Samsung Electronics is widening its lead with competitors in the solid-state drive (SSD) market, which is considered a growing field in the NAND memory semiconductor industry, dominating the market.
According to market research firm IHS and industry resources on Apr. 12, Samsung Electronics stood atop in the global SSD market with a 38 percent share in terms of sales last year, greatly surpassing Intel by 14 percent. The company generated US$5.4 billion (6.17 trillion won) in sales in the SSD market last year.
A NAND flash memory chip stores data even when the power is cut off. Recently, it is rapidly replacing the demand of DRAMs used in lab tops and PCs. Also, SSD products are expanding its business area to massive server market. Samsung Electronics has practically established the one-top system in the SSD market. In 2013, Samsung recorded a 26 percent share in the SSD market with sales of US$2.05 billion (2.35 trillion won), and had a mere 8 percent gap with Intel posting an 18 percent market share and US$1.47 billion (1.68 trillion won) in sales. However, the company is holding the firm lead since 2014 after focusing on developing 3D Vertical NAND technologies. On the other hand, Intel, its biggest competitor, was completely defeated in the technology development competition with Samsung and its market share is plunging. SanDisk, Micron and Toshiba, which placed third through fifth in the market, also saw its market share decreasing last year.
Samsung Electronics’ V-NAND technology is a high efficiency semiconductor that significantly improves the speed, durability and productivity with vertical design and lowers power consumption. The company succeeded in developing the world’s first V-NAND products in 2013 and mass producing the 3rd generation 48-layer products in last Aug, over two years ahead of its competitors in memory chip technology. Other competitors are now preparing the mass production of the 2nd generation products.
Industry watchers think that SSD products of domestic firms, including Samsung, will play an important role in losing China which has recently pursued a policy to promote semiconductor businesses. China announced the plan to invest 27 trillion won (US$23.61 billion) and help state-run semiconductor firm XMC build a NAND flash chip-centered semiconductor production plants in Wuhan, Hubei Province. Also, Tsinghua Unigroup Chairman Zhao Weiguo said in an interview with foreign media last month, “The company plans to attract investments worth US$30 billion (34.31 trillion won) from China’s local governments and private equity funds (PEF) and focus on memory businesses, including M&A of semiconductor companies and investment in facilities,” plainly showing its will to bring down South Korea. The group’s investment plan this time is also focused on NAND flash chips rather than DRAMs.
An official from the industry said, “The DRAM market is already dominated by Korean firms, such as Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, and it is seeing a slowdown in growth. So, it is no wonder that China will focus on the NAND sector. Both Micron, which Tsinghua Unigroup recently failed to take over, and SanDisk, which the group succeeded in the acquisition indirectly, are the strong in the SSD market. However, SSD is the area in which Samsung Electronics is far ahead in the semiconductor sector. It is almost impossible for China to catch up Samsung in the SSD sector with its own technology or acquisition strategy.”