LONDON – Toshiba Corp. has told customers it will have to halve its output of NAND flash memory ICs in May and June because of a shortage of blank wafers and other materials, according to a Digitimes report that referenced unnamed industry sources.
The production slowdown is due to the earthquake that struck northern Japan on March 11, 2011. Although Toshiba has not been badly affected in the aftermath of the quake Shin-Etsu, a leading supplier of 300-mm diameter raw wafers, has had its main production factory at Shirakawa closed.
Despite the impending production cut, system OEMs and memory module makers are not concerned about shortage over the near term, the report said.
It had already been predicted that a shortage of 300-mm wafers could affect memory production. In addition demand for NAND flash memory was already outstripping supply prior to the earthquake due to the popularity of tablet and netbook computers and mobile phones.
With demand high for other product types it is not clear that other NAND flash memory makers will be able to increase production to make up for any Toshiba shortfall. In addition, if Toshiba is limited by a lack of raw wafers it is possible that other manufacturers will be similarly constrained.
Apple is heavily exposed to NAND flash memory which it uses in its iPad and iPhone products. However, such is Apple's purchasing power that it is likely that smaller consumers will suffer before Apple does.
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