Reply to post: a few thoughts

Is SanDisk about to become the big daddy of enterprise flash?


a few thoughts

Well, your article provoked a few thoughts from me.

First of all, Micron is producing NAND at 16nm right now and they are using it in some of their SSDs, in particular their most recent consumer drive, the MX100, which has gotten very good reviews and is a cost leader among consumer SSDs. 16nm chips still constitute less than half of their production, but that is better than Sandisk's 15nm, which isn't yet in production. Crossover should happen later this year.

Second, Micron definitely has ambitions to be in enterprise drives. But yes, they have a difficult road to travel with Intel, Samsung and Sandisk already well established there. However, based on what they have said in their CCs, they are pretty determined to eventually be a player--I suspect after they begin producing 3D chips at the end of 2015 or in 2016. Hard to see how they will do it before then.

Samsung has produced the first 3D enterprise drive, although I am not sure who is actually using it yet--we should find out more this week at the Flash Memory Summit. Toshiba--along with Sandisk--should be producing 3D drives in 2016, but, as with Micron, I am not sure where Toshiba will be before then. However, it is clear that Samsung wants to be a bigger player in enterprise, which is why they entered 3D production before anyone else. Whether that will turn out to be the right strategy or not, only time will tell.

Hynix probably has the most difficult road to travel, as apparently the only way they got to be competitive in NAND was by stealing trade secrets from Toshiba/Sandisk, which they are currently being sued for by both companies and an ex-employee has been charged in Japan with theft. It will cost them a lot of money, time and management distraction at the very least, and Sandisk is also asking for an injunction against their chips. A very messy situation.

Sandisk and WD made a deal to produce hybrid drives last year ( ) but I haven't heard of anything actually coming of it.

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