In the global NAND flash market, Samsung, Toshiba, Western Digital, Micron, SK Hynix and Intel account for the majority. NAND flash memory is also an important area that China has been catching up with in recent years, especially Yangtze Memory Technologies Co., Ltd. (YMTC), which invested US$24 billion in Wuhan to build China's largest storage chip base, and will mass produce 32-layer stack of 64Gb core flash memory by the end of this year.
In the face of the threat of Chinese manufacturers in the NAND market, what do these companies think?
Western Digital's CFO Mark Long recently attended the Citibank 2018 Global Technology Conference and answered questions from analysts, which related to how Western Digital views Chinese manufacturers entering the NAND field. For this question, Mark Long said that they are very concerned about all competitors, but it is clear that NAND's technical requirements are more difficult than people think, and new market players need a long time to get this ability. It is necessary to prove the correctness of this investment through returns and process progress. Chinese NAND manufacturers will not make any meaningful changes until 2020.
Mark Long believes that even if Chinese manufacturers have the ability to provide a large number of NAND chips, they are still technically backward. Western Digital will still maintain its advantage in technology and will produce superior products through this technological advantage.
According to the plan of the YTMC, they will mass-produce 32-layer stacked 3D NAND flash memory at the end of this year, with a core capacity of 64GB. Next year, it will mass produce a 64-layer stack of 128Gb core 3D NAND flash memory, and will also develop a 128-layer stack of 3D NAND. However, in terms of technology, Western Digital, Toshiba, Micron and other companies will mass produce 96-layer stacked 3D NAND flash memory by the end of this year, and the core capacity will increase to 1Tb to 1.33Tb. The 3D NAND flash memory of YTMC is technically two or three years behind.