The relatively slow performance of NAND-based SSDs should end their reputation as an enterprise performance-booster as soon as they're replaced by faster alternatives including 3D NAND, which probably won't ship in volume until 2017, Handy wrote in EETimes.
SanDisk has been spending admirably high amounts on research and development, however, not only to develop its own 3D NAND designs, but also more-advanced planar (2D) NAND ships it calls the "1Ynm" and "1Znm" generations of NAND chips. Handy expects these will help stretch out the useful life of NAND and make the transition to 3D NAND or something un-NAND-like altogether far more gradual, he wrote.
After years of spending most of its R&D budget on cost-cutting and efficiency measures -- and actually reducing its capital expenditures during 2012 and 2013 -- SanDisk is expected to increase its capital spending by 86 percent during 2014, according to ICInsights.
That $1.6 billion will put SanDisk among the 10 biggest spenders among semiconductor makers, but won't crowd Samsung and the $11.5 billion it plans to spend during 2014, according to the IC Insights report.
That extra spending got Samsung a workable 3D NAND product fast enough to start production in August of 2013, while SanDisk won't have a product on the market until 2015, according to MotleyFool.com.
Samsung's 24-layer, stacked-cell 40nm nodes are not as small or as efficient as the 19nm chips SanDisk is working on and that Micron Technology is close to debuting, according to MotleyFool.
The result is that SanDisk remains behind the technological curve compared to Samsung, but has nestled into several sweet spots in the storage market that are giving it remarkable success, especially for a company that was considered no more than an also-ran in the embedded-flash market just a few years ago.
SanDisk is no longer considered a chipmaker, in fact, but a storage provider, according to RBC analyst Doug Freedman, quoted in Reuters.
"And not just a storage company, but a high-quality storage company," Freedman said in the April 17 story about SanDisk's earnings. "There's a real differentiation in the market that is showing up between high-quality products and ‘just ship it because somebody will use it.' "