NAND flash market to see growth in 2011

NAND flash memory is expected to enjoy another year of double digit growth due to its high usage in consumer electronics such as tablets and smartphones.

According to iSuppli research, NAND flash will see a continuation of its fortunes following a record 38 percent climb last year.  It is forecast that NAND flash revenue will reach $22.0 billion, representing an 18 percent jump from last year’s $18.7bn.

It is thought that the rise in revenue will be accompanied by an even larger increase in NAND bit growth, estimated to increase 72 percent in 2011 to 19.3 billion gigabytes.

“Buoyed by the success of Apple’s iPad, NAND flash will likely enjoy explosive growth in 2011 with the arrival of tablet products from other players such as Samsung, Dell and Research In Motion,” said Michael Yang, senior analyst for memory and storage at IHS.

Traditionally the biggest segment for NAND demand has been commodity flash, used in USB flash drives and SD memory cards. However it is expected that this area will give way to embedded applications as used in mobile handsets.

Given the optimism surrounding the market, and the likelihood of overspending on manufacturing on the part of suppliers, risks to the industry could surface by the close of 2011 when supply is likely to surge ahead of demand.

A slight downturn is predicted for 2012, when the market will recover by 11 percent in 2013 and then rise again the year after.

In terms of the embedded market Micron is said to have become even more prominent due to its acquisition of Numonyx.  Micron gained market share in 2010 to become the world’s third largest NAND supplier, behind Samsung and Toshiba.

Kingston Technology will also make an impact with its joint venture alongside Phison Electronics.  The two firms will supply mobile memory products for smartphones and tablets, having teamed up to compete more effectively against market leader Samsung.

It is said that for both segments of NAND flash, embedded and commodity, the key to success will lie in the development of controller technology. According to iSuppli next-generation flash memory will require 60-bit to 80-bit error correction code (ECC) engines, compared to 2-bit ECC just four years ago.