Average Smartphone NAND Storage Capacity will Top 60GB by 2018

Flash Memory storage has become an important component in smartphones not only for consumers as their needs for storage keeps on increasing with content creation, consumption but also for OEMs from BoM costs perspective and suppliers looking to meet this ever-growing demand from smartphones to cloud data centers. We have been researching in detail about the NAND storage technologies (See here) as well as DRAM (see here) trends and would like to highlight some latest demand trends and how can suppliers meet this ever growing demand from technology perspective.

The NAND Flash demand has been growing almost exponentially, much of which is attributed to the growth of the avg. capacity in smartphones. The average capacity in smartphones is estimated to cross 50GB per smartphone this year and estimated to cross 60GB mark per smartphone in Q4 2018.

Exhibit : Global Average Smartphone NAND Flash Capacity Trend (GB)

In contrast, industry has been facing supply crunch as the 2D NAND output is no longer sufficient to cater to current and future rise in demand for smartphones as well as SSD demand in personal computing devices. To meet the growing demand and increase NAND bit outputs, the storage memory suppliers are transitioning from 2D NAND to 3D NAND technology & manufacturing, a necessary technology transition. However, slower than expected ramp from various players has hurt supply positions in the short – midterm.

As a result, over the last eighteen months the NAND memory prices have risen in the range of 15% to 40% depending on the memory type and density. While the move to 64L 3D NAND (from 2D NAND or 32L/48L MLC 3D NAND) will ease supply a bit, the transition to and adoption of higher density TLC 3D NAND will be the key to ensure healthy supply & business continuity in the future.

The detailed whitepaper on this topic is available for download here