Recently, major storage manufacturers have successively announced their latest financial reports. Driven by factors such as favorable storage market demand, Samsung, SK Hynix, Micron, Western Digital, etc. have all handed in their outstanding transcripts.
01 Driven by storage demand, the performance of the original factory rose
Samsung Electronics (Samsung)
On October 28, Samsung Electronics announced its financial results for the third quarter ending September 30, 2021. Samsung’s revenue in the quarter reached 73.98 trillion won (approximately US$63 billion), an increase of 10% over the same period last year and a record high. Operating profit increased by 26% from the previous quarter to 15.82 trillion won (13.39 billion U.S. dollars), the second highest in history. Samsung said that memory continues to maintain favorable market conditions, and the foundry and Display businesses have achieved strong sales. These factors have driven performance growth.
Among them, Samsung’s storage department revenue was 20.83 trillion won (17.8 billion US dollars), an increase of 17% month-on-month and 46% year-on-year.
Samsung revealed that the overall price situation in the memory business is still favorable, especially with the support of the significant increase in server sales, the quarterly bit shipments set a new record. In terms of NAND, server SSD demand has recovered with the increase in investment by major server customers. Data centers have strong demand for high-capacity products, based on the high-capacity trend stimulated by the adoption of new CPUs. Due to the introduction of new models, the mobile market demand has been stable.
On October 26, SK Hynix released its financial report for the third quarter of fiscal year 2021 ending September 30, 2021. The company’s combined revenue for the third quarter of fiscal 2021 was 11.805 trillion won (10 billion U.S. dollars), an increase of 14% from the previous quarter and a year-on-year increase of 45%. Operating profit was 4.172 trillion won (3.53 billion U.S. dollars), and net profit was 3.315 trillion KRW (approximately 2.8 billion U.S. dollars).
SK Hynix has set a historically highest quarterly revenue since its establishment. The company said that increased demand for storage for servers and mobile applications and rising product prices are the main reasons for the quarterly revenue to set a record high. It is worth noting that SK Hynix’s NAND flash memory business finally turned a profit in the third quarter.
At the same time, SK Hynix increased the yield of mainstream products such as 1znm DRAM and 128-layer 4D NAND flash memory during the quarter, and expanded the production ratio of mainstream products.
Micron Technology (Micron)
On September 28, Micron Technology announced the fourth quarter of 2021 financial report. In the quarter, Micron achieved revenue of US$8.274 billion, a year-on-year increase of 36.6%. Net profit was US$2.72 billion, a year-on-year increase of 175.3%. Micron’s total revenue for fiscal 2021 was US$27.705 billion, a year-on-year increase of 29.3%, and its net profit was US$5.861 billion, a year-on-year increase of 118.1%. Micron’s fiscal year 2021 ended smoothly.
The industry believes that multiple factors have driven the performance of Micron Technology to rise, including the epidemic that promotes remote work and online learning to increase cloud storage requirements, and data center operators increase capacity to meet the surge in demand for cloud services.
On October 28, Western Digital announced its financial results for the first quarter of fiscal year 2022 (as of October 1, 2021). Western Digital’s revenue for the quarter was approximately US$5.1 billion, a year-on-year increase of 29%. Among them, Flash revenue was 2.5 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of 3% month-on-month and a year-on-year increase of 20%.
Divided by sector, Western Digital Cloud’s revenue in the quarter increased by 72%, customer revenue by 6%, and consumer revenue by 10% year-on-year. Western Digital believes that factors such as strong demand in different end markets, especially strong demand for cloud products, have driven the company’s performance to rise. On the client side, Western Digital’s flash memory business has also achieved growth, especially in mobile, gaming, automotive, Internet of Things and industrial applications.
02 Expansion, DDR5, HBM3… the original factory’s big moves
Behind the dazzling financial report, the original factory’s active layout of the industry has also attracted attention. This year, major OEMs continued to make efforts in the storage market, bringing many new products and technologies, and announced new progress in investment and production expansion.
Samsung Electronics (Samsung)
On March 10th, Samsung announced the launch of its first DRAM-less NVME 980 solid state drive for ordinary computer users, gamers and content entrepreneurs. The product provides sequential read and write speeds of up to 3500MB/s and 3000MB/s, and the random read and write performance reaches 500K and 400K.
In May, Samsung released the industry’s first CXL (Compute Express Link) memory expander. The official stated that it can expand the memory capacity and bandwidth beyond what can be achieved by today’s server systems. In October, Samsung launched CXL again. Launched an open source software solution: Scalable Memory Development Kit (SMDK) to expand the adoption of the CXL memory platform.
On August 24th, Samsung demonstrated its latest progress in processing in memory (PIM) technology at the Hot Chips 33 conference. Samsung successfully integrated PIM-based high-bandwidth memory (HBM-PIM) into a commercial accelerator system for the first time, and expanded the scope of PIM applications to DRAM modules and mobile memory, thereby accelerating the integration of memory and logic. Samsung plans to work with other industry leaders to standardize the PIM platform in the first half of next year to expand its AI memory product portfolio.
On October 12, Samsung announced the mass production of 14nm EUV DDR5 DRAM. After Samsung launched its first EUV DRAM in March last year, Samsung increased the number of EUV layers to 5, achieving its highest unit capacity. According to Samsung, the 14-nanometer process can help reduce power consumption by nearly 20% compared with the previous-generation DRAM process.
According to the latest DDR5 standard, Samsung’s 14-nanometer DRAM will help release speeds that were not available in previous DDR5 products: up to 7.2Gbps, more than twice as fast as DDR4’s 3.2Gbps.
Samsung also plans to expand its 14nm DDR5 product portfolio to support data center, supercomputer and enterprise server applications. In addition, Samsung plans to increase its 14-nanometer DRAM chip density to 24Gb to better meet the rapidly growing data demand.
Also in October, Samsung announced the chip process technology roadmap at the Fifth Foundry Forum (SFF). Samsung stated that GAA (All-around Gate Transistor Process) is ready for customers to adopt. Mass production of 3nm in 2022, 2025 It is expected to mass produce 2 nanometers annually. In addition, Samsung revealed that it is advancing the 14-nanometer process to support 3.3V high-voltage or flash-type embedded MRAM (eMRAM) to increase writing speed and density.
On February 1 this year, SK Hynix announced the completion of the new M16 plant. The plant was opened in November 2018 with a total investment of 3.5 trillion won and will mainly produce DRAM products. SK Hynix is equipped with EUV (extreme ultraviolet) lithography machine for the first time in M16. The company plans to use EUV lithography machine to produce the fourth generation of 1a nano-level DRAM products from the second half of this year.
On March 8, SK Hynix announced that it has begun mass production of 18GB LPDDR5 mobile DRAM products with the highest capacity in the industry. The product processing speed is as high as 6400Mb/s, which is about 20% higher than the mobile DRAM (LPDDR5, 5500Mb/s) currently installed in smartphones.
On July 12th, SK Hynix announced that it has begun mass production of 8Gigabit (Gb) LPDDR4 mobile DRAM products using the fourth-generation 10nm (1a) process. This is SK Hynix’s first mass-produced DRAM using EUV technology. It stably supports the highest speed (4266Mbps) of the LPDDR4 mobile DRAM specification, and its power consumption is also reduced by about 20% compared to the previous generation. SK Hynix also plans to introduce the 1a nano-level process into the world’s first DDR5 DRAM, which was launched in October last year, starting early next year.
On October 20th, SK Hynix announced the development of the industry’s first HBM3 DRAM (fourth-generation high-bandwidth memory technology), which can process 819GB of data per second, and can repair DRAM cell data by itself through built-in ECC verification Error, so the reliability of the product is also greatly improved. This time HBM3 will be available in 16GB and 24GB capacities. Among them, 24GB is the largest capacity in the industry.
On October 29, SK Hynix announced that it would acquire Key Foundry, a South Korean-based foundry company, for 576 billion won ($493 million). Key Foundry is an 8-inch wafer foundry in South Korea. It was separated from MagnaChip semiconductor in September last year. It has a monthly capacity of 82,000 8-inch wafers and can produce products for consumer, communications, computer, automotive and industrial applications. chip. SK Hynix said it expects that the acquisition will double its current 8-inch foundry production capacity.
Micron Technology (Micron)
On January 27 this year, Micron announced the mass shipment of DRAM products based on 1α (1-alpha) nodes, offering densities from 8Gb to 16Gb, which will help Micron’s existing DDR4 and LPDDR4 series products extend the life cycle. Micron will fully introduce the 1α node into its DRAM product line this year to better support a wide range of DRAM applications.
In June, Micron announced the bulk shipment of LPDDR4x and DDR4 products based on the 1α node. It also announced the shipment of PCIe 4.0 solid-state drives equipped with 176-layer NAND.
In July, Micron successfully applied the above-mentioned NAND technology and performance to the field of smartphones, and announced the mass shipment of the world’s first universal flash memory UFS 3.1 mobile solution based on 176-layer NAND technology. It is reported that this product is tailor-made for high-end flagship mobile phones and can achieve up to 75% improvement in sequential write and random read performance compared with previous generation products.
On October 20, Micron announced plans to invest US$150 billion in memory manufacturing and research and development (R&D) over the next ten years, including increasing the production capacity of its fabs to meet the growing demand for memory. Earlier, Micron was reported to be planning to build a new DRAM chip factory in Hiroshima, Japan, which is expected to be put into operation in 2024 to meet the needs of mid- to long-term data centers and other applications.
In February of this year, Kioxia and Western Digital announced that the two companies had developed the sixth-generation 162-layer 3D flash memory technology. Compared with the previous generation, the new 3D flash memory technology reduces the cost per bit and increases the number of bits that can be manufactured per wafer by 70%.
In September, Western Digital announced at the Shanghai HDD Reimagine Conference that it launched a new flash-enhanced disk architecture design, which will be used in Western Digital’s enterprise-level hard drive series products and storage platforms.
This new disk architecture design based on OptiNAND technology integrates Western Digital’s innovative capabilities in HDD (hard disk drive) and flash memory, optimizes HDD, and integrates HDD with iNAND embedded flash memory devices.
Western Digital has delivered samples of the new nine-disk and 20TB ePMR flash enhanced hard drive using OptiNAND technology to some customers. Western Digital revealed that the architecture design will be used in Western Digital’s enterprise-level hard drive series products and storage platforms.
In October, Western Digital announced that it would start mass shipments of 20TB hard drives using OptiNAND technology in November.
In February, Kioxia and Western Digital announced that they had developed the sixth-generation 162-layer 3D flash memory technology. In March, Kioxia said that it had begun building a new plant in Yokkaichi, Japan to support the sixth-generation 3D flash memory production.
Kioxia revealed that the first phase of the construction of the new plant is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2022. The construction will be divided into two phases to ensure the continuous production and shipment of cutting-edge flash memory products to meet the continuous market demand.
In September, Kioxia demonstrated its next-generation high-performance SSD solution based on PCIe 5.0. Compared with the mainstream PCIe 4.0 SSD in the market at 7 GB/s sequential read speed, the PCIe 5.0 SSD demonstrated by Kioxia has been read sequentially. It has doubled to more than 14 GB/s, and sequential write is also 7GB/s. Kioxia plans to launch the first PCIe 5.0 x4 SSD in the fourth quarter of 2021.
After Intel decided to sell its NAND flash memory business to SK Hynix, the company’s storage business focused on Optane.
This year Intel has released a number of Optane products, such as Optane persistent memory 200 series, Optane solid state drive SSD P5800X, NAND solid state drive SSD D5-P5316, Optane SSD P1600X, etc., further strengthening the memory and storage product portfolio.
In addition, in August this year, Intel revealed that its next-generation client architecture core processor Alder Lake supports DDR5 and PCIe 5.0. In October, Intel Alder Lake was officially released. With the advent of Alder Lake, there have been many module manufacturers recently. Announced the launch of DDR5 products.
03 What does the original factory think about the follow-up development of the storage market?
Looking forward to the fourth quarter and 2022, the original factory has expressed a more optimistic view in the latest financial report.
Samsung revealed that in the fourth quarter the company will focus on meeting demand for memory and system semiconductor products, even if some customers’ component shortages may affect demand. The company will also maintain a stable profitability in the finished product business by strengthening its leadership position and lineup in the high-end market segment.
Looking ahead to 2022, Samsung plans to increase cost competitiveness in its memory business by mass-producing 14nm DRAM and 7th generation V-NAND, as well as next-generation products based on industry-leading extreme ultraviolet (EUV) technology. At the same time, Samsung will continue to expand 15nm DRAM and 128-layer V-NAND, actively respond to the server market, and seize the demand for secure NAND solutions.
SK Hynix predicts that the demand for the memory market will grow steadily in the future. In the future, the company will focus on and ensure profitability while flexibly responding to changes in the market environment. In addition, SK Hynix expects to complete the acquisition of Intel’s NAND flash memory business within this year. The competitiveness of the company’s NAND business unit, which has recently turned a profit, will be strengthened.
Micron expects that memory demand in 2022 will be driven by growing data centers, server deployments, 5G mobile phone shipments, and continued strength in the automotive and industrial markets. However, from the perspective of short-term demand, PC OEM customers are experiencing shortages of other parts, which affects the purchase of memory chips; in addition, Micron’s own supply chain is also facing a shortage of some IC products, which will also affect the shipment of memory products.
Western Digital predicts that the company’s flash memory business revenue will increase sequentially in the next quarter.
04 Demand growth will be less than supply, and the storage market will enter a price decline cycle in 2022?
Although the original manufacturer is optimistic about the subsequent development of the storage market, the supply and demand changes in the storage market are still worthy of the industry’s attention.
The latest survey released by TrendForce, a global market research organization, predicts that the supply bit growth rate of DRAM in 2022 will be about 17.9%. However, due to the high level of buyer inventory and the demand bit growth rate of only 16.3% in 2022, Lower than the growth rate of the supply side, the DRAM industry in 2022 will shift from short supply to oversupply and enter a cycle of falling prices.
In terms of NAND Flash, TrendForce estimates that the annual growth rate of supply bits is about 31.8%; and the annual growth rate of demand bits is 30.8%. As demand growth converges, and the fierce competition from suppliers for high-level products will cause In 2022, the overall NAND Flash market will also enter a price decline cycle.
The supply and demand in the storage market reversed, and DRAM and NAND Flash will enter a cycle of price declines. Under this situation, where will storage companies go? Stay tuned to TrendForce’s upcoming “MTS2022 Storage Industry Trend Summit” to help you find answers.
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