SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The duo of SanDisk Corp. and Toshiba Corp. are looking to regain the process technology lead in NAND--again.
The team of SanDisk-Toshiba are set to roll out a 24-nm NAND flash part in the second half of 2010, thereby regaining the lead from the duo of Intel Corp. and Micron Technology Inc., according to an analyst. SanDisk and Toshiba have a joint manufacturing venture in NAND in Japan.
In January, Intel and Micron regained the process technology lead in NAND flash, by rolling out the first in a family of 25-nm devices.
SanDisk-Toshiba will have both two-bit-per-cell (x2) and three-bit-per-cell (x3), 24-nm part, according to SanDisk's roadmap. In contrast, the Intel-Micron team are scaling with more traditional two-bit-per-cell (x2) devices.
''We expect SanDisk to be (about) 70 percent ramped on 32-nm exiting '10, with 24-nm ramp starting in late 2H,'' said Dunham Winoto, an analyst with Avian Securities LLC (Boston), in a report based on SanDisk's analyst meeting late last week. ''By comparison, Micron is 100 percent on 34-nm and to start ramping 25-nm in Q2, at least three-to-four quarters ahead on shrinks but behind on the ramp on 3-bits.''
Indeed, SanDisk-Toshiba and Intel-Micron have different views about the NAND market. At the event, ''SanDisk shared its process node roadmap, reiterating its belief that x3 combined with node shrink as the most optimal way to reduce unit cost. This is in contrast with Micron's strategy of relying more on shrinks and less on x3,'' Winoto said.
According to the analyst, there are two reasons for the discrepancies: 1) Micron likely has greater concentration of OEMs using embedded NAND; and 2) SanDisk owns more IP for x3.
Also at the event, SanDisk raised its capital spending for 2010 to $700-to-900 million, up from $370 million in
2009, the analyst said. This is below the $1.6 billion average capital spending figures from 2006-to-2008, it was noted.
The boost in 2010 spending is due to SanDisk's Fab 4 plant in Japan, which is jumping from 125,000 to 165,000 wafers per month, according to the report.
Like all NAND players, SanDisk is seeing a strong NAND market. ''The tone of the (SanDisk analyst) meeting was very upbeat, which is a difference from a year ago when the company had to endure what was probably the worst period in its entire history,'' Winoto said. ''Recall that the 1H of last year set the bottom of what was the worst NAND market with supply far outstripping demand that led to a downward price spiral that lasted nearly three years.''