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TrendForce:1H'March Contract Prices Rise as NAND Flash Manufacturers Continue to Restrict Supply to Channel Businesses

20 March 2013 Semiconductors

According to DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce, affected by the NAND Flash manufacturer's restricted supplies toward the channel market clients, the NAND Flash contract prices for the first half of March have increased, and prices for low density MLC and TLC products have each gone up by more than 10%. As high-growth products such as smartphones, tablet PCs, and ultrabooks continue to spur growth within the industry, the NAND Flash market's bit demand is expected to increase by 47.7% YoY. The decreases experienced by the NAND Flash average selling price, on the other hand, is forecasted to be less severe than in previous years, given the NAND Flash vendors' efforts to adjust supplies and the delays to the 16nm-class process migrations. With all factors taken into account, TrendForce forecasts that the value of the 2013 NAND Flash market will increase by approximately 25.5% YoY and approach $US 25.39 billion. On the whole, stable growth is expected for the entire NAND Flash industry.

The two most noteworthy clients in the NAND Flash industry are the system OEMs and the channel vendors. Our NAND Flash contract pricing survey focuses mainly on memory cards and UFDs. In recent periods, the NAND Flash vendors have consistently been allocating production capacity from TLC to MLC products, with particular emphasis placed on the production of high-density MLC. As TrendForce's research data indicates, the proportion of TLC products has decreased from 25% last quarter to approximately 23% in 1Q13. The proportion of MLC products, on the other hand, rose from 70% to 72%. It should be noted that a portion of the TLC products mentioned above include those used by Samsung to manufacture its TLC eMMC and SSDs. As such, the actual TLC production that can be provided to channel businesses is actually lower than it appears.

In the spot market, the impact of the NAND Flash maker's supply tightening strategies appears to be as noticeable as that in the contract market. According to DRAMeXchange, from Chinese New Year to 1H'March, the price increases for 16Gb MLC, 32Gb MLC, 32Gb TLC are all above 20%. The reason NAND Flash makers prefer OEM clients is not only because of the more stable demand for eMMC and SSDs, but also because of the better financial prospects.

As the density for the 20nm-class MLC products increases to 64Gb/128Gb, NAND Flash vendors will either gradually decrease the supply of low density MLC, or stop its production altogether. The contract price uptrend, for the most part, can be said to be the result of the NAND Flash vendor's supply tightening strategies. TrendForce predicts that these vendors will continue to strengthen their supply restriction efforts in order to counter the effects of slow season effects in the second quarter.


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