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SanDisk’s iNAND Extreme family of embedded eMMC storage devices for high-end mobile and tablets

July 3, 2011 Comments off

SanDisk Corp.’s embedded storage is in most of all top computing device brands. It recently launched the iNAND Extreme family of embedded eMMC storage devices for high-end mobile and tablets.

Gadi Ben-Gad, product marketing manager, SanDisk.

Gadi Ben-Gad, product marketing manager, SanDisk.

Gadi Ben-Gad, product marketing manager for SanDisk, said: “This very high performance line of iNAND products joins the existing iNAND and iNAND Ultra lines, which are very successful in the mobile, tablet and consumer electronics markets. The first generation of these products (iNAND Extreme) will be sampling in a few weeks.

“iNAND Extreme products offer up to 50MB/s write and 80MB/s read sequential performance and very high random performance designed for the next generation of high-end mobile and tablet devices. SanDisk continues to monitor market trends and requirements and diversifying the embedded offering in the market, to answer to the different requirements of the different mobile, tablet and consumer electronics segments.”

So, how will SanDisk play a strong role in these areas? According to Ben-Gad, SanDisk works closely with a broad and diverse set of mobile and tablet OEMs. The company also works very closely with the majority of the leading mobile chipset vendors and standardization bodies in the mobile/tablet ecosystem to ensure optimal integration and technological support.

He added: “SanDisk is a fully vertically integrated company with substantial expertise in NAND flash technology, system technology and product design with years of experience in designing embedded and removable mobile storage devices. SanDisk is very well-positioned to understand, develop and support the future storage requirements in mobile, tablet and consumer electronics devices.”

Finally, I must thank Ms. Jody Privette Young, LymanPR, for making this happen.

Flash will be bigger than you ever imagined in the coming decade: Dr. Eli Harari, SanDisk CEO


Next time you buy a new smartphone or mobile Internet device(MID)/handheld device/tablet PC/netbook with more storage capacity, you may want to thank SanDisk, as chances are that the internal flash memory inside your new smartphone or MID/handheld device/tablet PC/netbook  could have well come from this company!
Dr. Eli Harari, chairman and CEO, SanDisk.

Dr. Eli Harari, chairman and CEO, SanDisk.

No surprises for sure, but flash will be bigger than you ever imagined, in the coming decade, said Dr. Eli Harari, SanDisk chairman and CEO! He was speaking at a Thought Leadership Forum organized today by the India Semiconductor Association (ISA).

He said that flash memory is ubiquitous and growing. Today’s smartphone is equivalent to the ‘new PC’ and it allowed a route to flash SSD as well. The mobile Internet is still in the early stages of its innings and will go on to become even bigger than anyone could ever imagine.

Further, cloud computing, the last node on the network, would soon be in your pocket. Finally, it is getting hard to do highly scaled flash. Systems solutions are now becoming key. SanDisk, he added, is currently playing to its strengths.

Dr. Harari pointed out that predictions made by SanDisk way back in 1999 — flash would be going neck and neck with HDDs and SRAMs/DRAMs — had turned out to be true in 2010!

The period from 1990-99 were the early days for flash memory storage, finding applications in industrial, military, etc. It was also the period of the early development of digital film, as well as emergence of early PDAs. This period was marked by the early days of the Web.

The period from, 2000–2009 has been one of digitial consumer revolution. Flash is now a ubiquitous, strategic enabler for portable personal content. This period marked the early days of Mobile Internet. We also saw 3G networks take off, and iPhone and mobile applications taking off as well. Similarly, this period also witnessed the birth of the revolution called social networking.

On NAND, he said that 2005–2009 witnessed 45-55 percent annual cost reductions.
* SLC –> MLC (~90 percent of bits).
* 200mm –> 300mm, mega-fabs, automation, immersion lithography.
* Unprecedented productivity thru rapid technology transitions.

During the period 2010–2013, the segment will witness 25-35 percent annual cost reductions.
* MLC –> X3 (~50 percent of bits).
* NAND technology more challenging at 1x nm, 1y nm.
* EUV lithography will likely be required below 1x nm.

SanDisk is developing 3D read/write memory in scalable cross-point diode array. The joint development with Toshiba, is proceeding at Yokkaichi, Japan. While it is said to be making good progress with R/W layer, it is not yet ready for production.

At x8 equivalent, and given SanDisk’s knowhow in 3D diode arrays, D. Harari said 3D R/W is the most likely successor for NAND in the coming decade. This could usher a second SSD wave.

Read more…

On possible Samsung-SanDisk deal; AMD’s fab-lite path

September 6, 2008 Comments off

Last week, the global semiconductor industry has been hearing and reading about two big speculative stories:

a) A possible acquisition of SanDisk by Samsung, and
b) A possible chance of AMD taking the fab-lite route.

First on Samsung’s buyout (possible) of SanDisk! There have been rumors of a possibility of Samsung acquiring SanDisk. While it is still a possibility, it also leads to several interesting questions!

Should this deal happen, what will be the possible implications for the memory market? Will this also lead to a possible easing off on the pricing pressures on the memory supply chain? And well, what happens to the Toshiba-SanDisk alliance?

A couple of weeks back, iSuppli, had highlighted how Micron had managed to buck the weak NAND market conditions, and was closing the gap with Hynix in Q2, and that NAND recovery was likely only by H2-2009.

I managed to catch up again Nam Hyung Kim, Director & Chief Analyst, iSuppli Corp., and quizzed him on the possible acquisition of SanDisk by Samsung.

A caution: Remember, all of this is merely based on speculation!

On the possibility of Samsung’s takeover of SanDisk, he says: “Samsung at least said that they consider it. Thus, it is a possible deal. But who knows!”

Kim is more forthright on the implications for the memory market, should this deal happen, and I tend to agree with him.

Consolidation inevitable; no impact on prices
The chief analyst quips: “The NAND flash market is still premature and there are too many players in flash cards, USB Flash drives, SSD, etc. The industry consolidation should be inevitable in future.”

So, will this possible buyout at least ease some pricing pressures on memory supply chain? “I don’t expect this deal to impact the prices. Prices will depend on suppliers’ capacity plans. In the memory industry, the consolidation has never impacted the prices in a long run. (maybe, just a short-term impact). As you know, Micron acquired Lexar a few years ago, but no impact,” he adds.

Is there any possibility of SanDisk delaying its production ramps and investments at two of its fabs? And, what will happen should it do so?

Nam says: “SanDisk has already said that they would delay its investment and capacity plan given difficult market condition. This is a positive sign to the market as we expect slower supply growth than expected in future. However, in a long run, consolidation won’t impact the market up and down.”

Negative impact likely for Toshiba?
Lastly, what happens to the SanDisk-Toshiba alliance, should the Samsung buyout of SanDisk does happen?

Nam adds: “It is negative to Toshiba. The company [Toshiba] not only loses its technology partner, but also loses its investment partner. It should be burden for Toshiba to keep investing themselves to grow its business.”

Well, in SEMI’s Fab Forecast Report, there is mention of how Toshiba and SanDisk are among the big spenders in fabs, in Japan. Considering that Japanese semiconductor manufacturers are more cautious, it would be interesting to see how this deal, should it happen, affects the Toshiba-SanDisk alliance.

Now, AMD goes fab-lite?
While on fabs, this brings me to the other big story of last week — of AMD going the fab-lite route, possibly!

Magma’s Rajeev Madhavan had commented some time back that fab-lite is actually good for EDA. It means more design productivity. Leading firms such as TI, NVIDIA, Broadcom, etc., are Magma’s customers.

Late last year, Anil Gupta, MD, India Operations, ARM, had also commented on some other firms going fab-lite! Gupta pointed out Infineon, NXP, etc., had announced Fab-Lite strategies. Even Texas Instruments was moving to a Fab-Lite strategy. “IDMs are going to be the fabless units of today and tomorrow,” he added.

So much for those who’ve taken the fab-lite route, and industry endorsements.

On the fab-lite subject, iSuppli’s Kim will not speculate whether AMD would actually break up into into two entities: design and manufacturing, and also prefers to wait and watch.

How does fab-lite actually benefit? He comments: “Fab-lite has not been working well in the memory industry, which requires very tight control. It works, IF two companies (an IDM and a foundry) work very closely. For example, the industry leader, Samsung, produces all of the memory alone without any foundry relationship.”

Watch this space, folks!

90pc fab investments for 300mm capacity: SEMI

August 31, 2008 Comments off

Recently, SEMI (Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International) released its World Fab Forecast report. This report mentions that projected decline in world semiconductor fab equipment spending of 20 percent is likely for 2008. However, a rebound of over 20 percent in spending is expected in 2009, driven by over 70 fab projects.

The August 2008 edition of this report lists 53 fab equipping projects and up to 21 construction projects for fabs in 2009. It is sincerely hoped that at least one of the fabs likely from the Southeast Asian region is from India!

With the help of Scott Smith Senior Manager, Public Relations, SEMI, I was able to get in touch with Christian Gregor Dieseldorff, Senior Manager of Fab Information and Analysis at SEMI, in an attempt to find out more about the decline in global fab spends, these new fabs, and how these fabs can lead a turnaround in the global semiconductor industry. Thanks Scott!

So what are the chief reasons for the decline in fab spends during 2008? According to Dieseldorff, given the weaker economic conditions globally, coupled with higher energy and commodity prices and the financial crisis, the overall outlook for semiconductor growth in 2008 is for low-single digit growth in both revenues and units. As such, device makers have responded by cutting back their capital spending and pushing out fab projects or putting them on hold.

I was keen to find out the geographic breakup of these 70 new fabs that are likely yo come up in 2009.

Dieseldorff advised that these are not 70 new fabs coming up in 2009. Rather, the numbers reflect 300mm fabs only, and is a mix of on-going and new projects for fabs equipping and fab construction projects in 2009.

For equipping 300mm fabs, SEMI expects about: Americas 8, China 5, Europe and Mideast 4, Japan 7, South Korea 11, SE Asia 3 and Taiwan 15.

For 300mm fab construction projects, SEMI expects about: Americas 3, China 2, Europe and Mideast 1, Japan 2, South Korea 3, SE Asia 2 and Taiwan 8.

What are the salient features of some of these new fabs likely to come up next year (for instance, new tech nodes)? Dieseldorff highlighted that about 90 percent of the investments are for 300mm capacity, and the amount of spending for advanced nodes, such as 65nm, is increasing.

“Also, device makers are building larger fabs, which are termed “mega fabs,” so, to potentially realize a greater return based on scales of economy,” he added.

How will these new fabs contribute to a better performance from the global semicon industry? This will be quite interesting to witness.

Dieseldorff said that over the past several years, demand for semiconductor devices has been quite strong, and so, the industry has had to bring on capacity to support this need, both in terms of needed capacity and technology. Even with the slower market growth in 2008, recent industry data shows healthy levels of fab capacity utilization, especially for the advanced technology generations and for 300mm manufacturing.

He added: “The expectation is that demand for semiconductors will strengthen once global economic conditions improve. So, the capacity addition that is coming online this year and the fab projects that are equipping and beginning construction in 2009 are necessary to meet the future demand.”

So how will all of this affect the overall memory market (e.g., 42pc increase in share for memory)? Dieseldorff shared his thought, a fact, known well to those in the semiconductor industry, that the memory market has been battered by declining average selling prices and a condition termed by some as “profitless prosperity.”

“Looking at demand forecasts specific to memory, tremendous growth is anticipated,” he forecasted.

However, the manufacturers in this device segment are battling it out for market share, and the general expectation is that consolidation will continue.

Also, joint-ventures and partnerships are becoming increasingly critical in the memory sector as manufacturers seek to leverage their existing resources to meet future technology and capacity requirements.

It would be interesting to find out why Taiwan and Korea are forecasted as likely to exceed Japan in fab spend?

According to Dieseldorff, in Korea, Samsung has been and is the key spender, and as a company, it will continue to invest so to have a dominant share in the memory sector.

He said: “In 2009, our expectation is for the DRAM manufacturers in Taiwan to boost spending after cutting back this year. We expect seven new 300 mm fab lines in Taiwan to come into production over the next two years.”

However, spending in Japan has been more measured and is likely to remain so. Toshiba, and its joint-venture partner, Sandisk are the big spenders in Japan, when it comes to new fab capacity. Other Japanese semiconductor manufacturers are more cautious and are focused more on technology spending.

Toshiba-Sandisk Fab 4 takeaways for Indian fabs

September 7, 2007 Comments off

The recent news regarding the opening of Toshiba-Sandisk Fab 4, the latest 300mm wafer fabrication facility for NAND flash memory at Toshiba’s Yokkaichi Operations, in Mie Prefecture, Japan, may have missed the eyeballs of many of us.

There are lot of takeaways for those looking to set up fabs in India. HSMC and SemIndia are building fabs in FabCity, Hyderabad.

Obviously, funding was never a problem for Toshiba and Sandisk. Toshiba funded the construction of the Fab 4 building, and Flash Alliance, Ltd, a Toshiba-SanDisk venture established in July 2006, 50.1 percent owned by Toshiba and 49.9 percent by SanDisk, is funding the advanced manufacturing equipment now being installed in the fab.

HSMC and SemIndia would have partners for its fabs. HSMC has roped in Infineon as a technology partner and licensed its 130nm technology, while SemIndia has AMD as a partner, besides having folks such as Flextronics and Broadcom, among others by its side.

Some other learnings from Toshiba-Sandisk’s Fab 4 are: it has been designed to minimize any impact on operations from natural disasters. Also, Fab 4 would employ 56nm process technology at start-up, and plans for the gradual transition to 43nm technology, starting from March 2008. Maybe, the proposed Indian fabs would need to look at both aspects. Yes, 130nm is a good area to start, but let’s look ahead at what the industry’s doing too. By the way, Toshiba-Sandisk Fab 4 was built in about a year’s time. So, the fabs coming up in India should perhaps, look at similar timelines.

May I mention here that recently, a member from an Israeli semicon delegation mentioned that it would not be a bad idea for India to have 200mm fabs, which would be able to make products for the aftermarket. However, India does not have a concept of aftermarket yet.

In between, there’s news that Hynix signed a contract to sell the equipment in its 200-mm fab in Wuxi, China to China Resources Holdings. Now, should this have any bearing on the idea of a 200mm fab? Or should Indian fabs focus on having 300mm fabs? It’s for them to decide!

It’s worth adding here that the India Semiconductor Association (ISA) has been doing great work in making lots of things happen, the latest being the MoU with the Taiwan Semiconductor Industry Association (TSIA). The MoU focuses on developing business ties and exchanges between companies in the semiconductor industry in the two countries.

Slow India has already missed the Intel bus. Also, there are TSMC and the others, like Tower, who have an eye on India. Should they choose to open shop here big time, there’s every chance that they might steal the thunder from these proposed Indian fabs.

If we are to be a world-class semicon hub, we simply cannot afford to be slow — in strategy and in its implementation. Decisions should be quick and effective!

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