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Flash Memory Summit or Fire Memory Summit – Trendfocus

Fire in exhibit hall shuts down entire show floor but new products and technologies abound.

This report, Periodic Installment – August 11, 2017 Flash Memory Summit 2017, was written by analysts of Trendfocus, Inc.

FMS 2017 – Flash Memory Summit or Fire Memory Summit?
[Congratulations to the author of this excellent title. Editor]
Fire in the exhibit hall shuts down entire show floor; however, new products and technologies abound

During FMS week, there were several NAND related announcements.

Samsung, the world’s leader in the NAND space, announced a 1Tb V-NAND in an effort to keep up with next-generation data processing and storage systems requirements. The 1Tb NAND will be based on 96 layers (fifth generation) and will be available in QLC. Its new product will support data rates up to 1.2Gb/s. The 1Tb part will be available in 2018.

Lite-On Storage announced plans to incorporate Toshiba’s TSV (Through Silicon Via) NAND technology in future products. In product testing, TSV based NAND in SSDs resulted in 20% lower power consumption and provided a 30% performance boost against comparable SSDs.

Western Digital showcased its new QLC X4 architecture. WD’s X4 is based on 64 layer, BiCS3 3D NAND technology. The X4 will deliver 768GB on a single chip, a boost of 50% from the 512GB X3 TLC chip. Additionally, WD announced its next generation BiCS4 NAND based on 96 layers. Sampling to OEM customers is scheduled for later this year and volume production is expected to start next year.

Micron announced QuantX brand, which is its version of Intel’s Optane. QuantX is a set of solutions that will incorporate 3D XPoint memory.

NAND Supply: The message has not changed since the beginning of the year. Supply remains tight, and is impacting SSD prices. 3D NAND transition is gaining traction and the target of >50% 3D bit output exiting the year is still valid for nearly all suppliers. However, total NAND bits shipping in 2017 are falling behind expectations, and the market is now in jeopardy of topping 30% growth in 2017. More realistic values are in the mid-20% range now. On the demand front, SSD continue to lead all applications, but mobile solutions continue to gain share. With new smartphones upping storage capacities, NAND demand has been robust. Due to the strong demand and tight supply conditions, NAND prices continue to inch upward.

DRAM Supply: Many of the NAND products also require DRAM, and with limited suppliers and strong demand in this space, supply has been extremely tight since last year. However, unlike the NAND market, DRAM suppliers are not adding new capacity, so this situation is not expected to drastically improve in the near future.

On the SSD side, Toshiba announced two next generation enterprise SSDs with 64 layer 3D NAND. The TMC (Toshiba Memory company) PM5 12Gb/s SAS series and the CM5 NVM Express series. Both new products will serve Toshiba well, with the PM5 helping to continue Toshiba’s successful run in the SAS SSD world as the company continues to gain share each quarter. Toshiba’s PM5 is competitive at both server and storage OEM customers. The PM5 will offer up to 30TB of storage in various endurance levels. This product will also offer the industry’s first multi-link SAS offering, with up to 4 ports for data increased throughput.

The CM5 NVMe offering is Toshiba’s first PCIe dual port offering. The CM5 offers up to 800K random read IO/s and 240K random write IO/s. Also, this new SSD offering utilizes its optional Toshiba’s Persistent Memory Region (PMR) capability. PMR enables users to augment system memory with DRAM located on the SSD without the burden of expensive non-volatile DIMSS (NV-DIMMS).

Development for these products are expected to be completed sometime in Q4’17.

Micron announced a new NVMe solid state storage family of products. The new Micron 9200 Series, utilizing 3D NAND is Micron’s second generation of NVMe products, and Micron hopes to capitalize on the fast growing PCIe market. With capacities up to 10TB for this product family, Micron is at the leading edge for capacity offered in the PCIe NVMe space. Micron’s 9200 SSDs are expected to have general market available by the end of this month.

Seagate announced its 64TB NVMe SSD and new Nytro SSDs. The Nytro 5000 is an M.2 NVMe SSD and the Nytro 3000 is Seagate’s latest SAS SSD. Each of these new drives have been designed to address the specific needs of of the cloud and data center markets. Seagate is targeting these lucrative segments with its 64TB NVMe AIC with up to 13GB/s of throughput. Although this form factor will see declining volumes long term, there are still some business opportunities. In addition, the Nytro 5000 M.2 NVMe SSD is its next-gen version in the Nytro family. With capacities up to 2TB, this is also the leading edge of M.2 capacities. The Nytro 3000 SAS SSD is the next-generation version of the 1200.2. This offering comes in capacities up to 15TB, well beyond the sweet spot of SAS capacities shipping in the market today. Both products are expected to be in the market sometime next year.

Silicon Motion announced a number of new controller solutions, including the new ultra-high speed SM2262EN and SM2262 for client, the SM2263 for mainstream and the SM2263XT DRAM-less controller, which supports the BGA form factor. With the SM2262 and SM2263 series, SMI now offers PCIe Gen 3 x 4 NVMe with the latest 3D NAND technologies from the main Flash supplies in the industry. With the SM2262EN controller model, SMI is targeting mainstream client applications. The SM2263XT, a DRAM-less controller solution, helps to reduce BoM cost (and size), enabling implementation into BGA SSD type devices – very suitable for applications such as 2-in-1 systems, Chromebooks and mobile devices.

Comments, Analysis:
With some of these great product announcement, what also became clear at this year’s Flash Memory Summit is that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel as it relates to supply and pricing. Supply shortage still remains, but definitely to a lesser extent than is was in CQ1 and CQ2. Price increases continued through 2CQ17, but there are some rumblings that the increases are starting to level off, with (hopefully) some (very) slight takedowns in some segments by 4CQ17. The rationale has been that even though shortages may remain in many instances, any further price increases could have negative ramifications on long term customer relations. SSD vendors have had a fantastic run over the past four quarters with price increases and healthy margins, but maybe the time has come to consider a more cohesive and cooperative long term strategy with its customers.