In the 3D NAND flash market led by Samsung Electronics, the alliance between Intel and Micron is emerging as strong competitors against Samsung Electronics.
According to market research firm DRAMeXchange on May 30, Intel and Micron started mass production of 3D NAND flash products at the Singapore plant in the first quarter this year. They can produce only 3,000 semiconductor wafers per month at the moment, but the production capacity will skyrocket to 40,000 within the year. Once the Dalian plant in China starts full-scale operation at the end of the year, their 3D NAND production capacity will surpass that of Samsung Electronics.
It corresponds with the semiconductor industry’s analysis that 3D NAND manufacturing technology of Intel and Micron are stabilizing faster than expected.
Since Samsung Electronics has practically decided not to make the second stage of 3D NAND flash investment in the Xi’an plant as the industry expected earlier, its 3D NAND average production capacity per month will be around 20,000 to 40,000, said DRAMeXchange. The figure accounts for 9 to 18 percent of Samsung Electronics’ total NAND flash production.
Starting with Intel and Micron, on the other hand, its competitors, including Toshiba and SK Hynix, are beefing up their production capacities. So, the experts’ analysis that Samsung Electronics’ 3D NAND production technology is over three years ahead of other memory manufacturers is now meaningless.
SK Hynix, which began the 3D NAND shipment in the second quarter this year, will significantly increase its output in the second half of the year. The company currently produces 2,000 sheets on a monthly basis but it plans to raise its production capacity by 10 times to 20,000 wafer sheets in the fourth quarter.
On the other hand, some industry watchers say that Samsung Electronics is focusing on improving its mass productivity, rather than building additional production facilities, in order to brace for 3D NAND “chicken game” which will be accelerated from next year. In particular, the company is expected to aggressively establish production lines next year when the production cost of 3D NAND products will be lower than that of 2D NAND products.