Samsung Electronics Co. recorded its largest-ever sales of NAND flash memory chips in the first quarter this year. Samsung’s unrivaled technology to produce the third generation 48-layer V-NAND flash memory chips has led to the increase in sales, according to industry watchers.
According to market research firm IHS Inc. on July 12, the company posted sales of US$2.62 billion (3 trillion won) in the NAND flash sector alone in the first quarter this year. The figure was 3.1 percent increase from the previous quarter of US$2.54 billion (2.91 trillion won), almost double the global NAND flash market’s on-quarter growth rate of 1.6 percent.
The NAND flash memory is a semiconductor which stores data even power is cut off, rapidly replacing the demand of dynamic random access memory (DRAM). Currently, almost 30 percent of laptop computers in the market are mounted with solid-state drives (SSD), the representative production using NAND flash memory.
Samsung Electronics’ global share in the NAND flash market increased 0.6 percentage point from 42 percent in the previous quarter to 42.6 percent in the first three months of this year.
Although Japan’s Toshiba Corp. raised its market share by 4 percentage point from 24 percent in the previous quarter to 28 percent, Samsung still has an absolute advantage with an overwhelming margin of more than 14 percentage point. The U.S. Micron Technology Inc. took third place with 18.8 percent and Korea’s SK Hynix Inc. fourth with 10.6 percent.
Samsung Electronics has maintained its top place in terms of NAND flash market share for 14 years in a row since 2002. Industry sources expect that Samsung would lead the NAND flash market for a while due the fact that its technology to produce the 48-layer V-NAND flash memory chips is unrivaled in the global market.
Samsung, however, is faced with escalating challenge from competition. Toshiba applies triple-level-cell (TLC) technology to more than 40 percent of its NAND flash memories and is conducting a pilot production of 48-layer 3D NAND flash. It announced its plan to increase the capital expenditure (CAPEX) in the NAND flash sector alone by more than 20 percent.
The world’s biggest chipmaker Intel Corp. is also converting its semiconductor fabrication plant in Dalian, China, to manufacture 3D NAND flash memories. In addition, China’s state-owned semiconductor producers are increasing the investment in NAND flash memory chips. XMC recently announced its 27 trillion won (US$23.52 billion) investment plan to build a 3D NAND flash chip manufacturing factory in Wuhan, Hubei Province.