Category Archives: Memory Industry News

The USB memory industry has finally settled from a 2 year long high…

Since the fall of 2016 the NAND Flash and DRAM memory industry saw increases in supply commodities rise over 40% thus raising prices across the board for computer peripherals, portable devices, computer, laptops, and USB flash drives, both retail and promotional.  This was due, mainly to a massive crossover in the manufacturing process of NAND Flash memory as a brand new architecture (3D NAND) was introduced, causing factories to shut down nearly half of all production, as they made room for the new equipment.  What was supposed to be a small adjustment period of 2-3 months turned into a 2 year battle.

 

Early adoption of the new technology was a difficult road to hoe. In late 2014, when 3D NAND architecture was first introduced, major companies such as Intel, Micron, Samsung and Toshiba had announced that this new technology would allow manufacturing of an MLC-like memory chip which could cary as many as 96 layers vertically within the same horizontal (X,Y) space. Companies boasted that this new technology could potentially offer memory sizes to multiply upwards of 10x current limits on a single chip, and perform read/write tasks at over triple (3x) the speed.

 

It took until late 2016 for factories to ramp up their technology to begin the most basic manufacturing of this new transformative technology, which was sure to enhance the USB Flash market, even at entry-level production which was set to use a 48-layer 3D NAND product (Toshiba / Sandisk), but many problems and complications caused an alter-effect with would see prices rise significantly, while supply ran short world-wide.  It seems companies were more focussed on developing further towards the 96 layer goal, with the first 64-layer 3D NAND flash chips being produced in 2017.

 

The race to techno-supremacy is often littered with entire industries serving as cannon fodder. As these companies competed for the fastest and largest laptop sized SSD hard drives, service to the USB flash drive market suffered.  Add to that a silicon wafer shortage which came up only a few short months later, this spelled certain disaster. It’s been a long and arduous road…

 

Fast forward to 2018. 3D NAND flash is now widely used in many multi-layer configurations, account for over 60% of all bit layer production, and most recently Toshiba Memory, alongside of Western Digital have opened an entirely new 3D NAND Flash fabrication plant in China. Prices have been slowly (very slowly), but steadily coming down, the supply chain seems much healthier, and forecasts are good into the first 2 quarters of next year (2019) that prices will continue to remain within this or better ranges.

 

So basically, if you buy USB drives, whether it be for digital media presentation, or for promotional purposes (or both!), now is a much better time to buy than months ago, and the horizon looks healthy. Get your quotes updated today and see.

 

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3D NAND flash output set to expand in 2H17

3D NAND memory chips

 

Josephine Lien, Taipei; Jessie Shen, DIGITIMES [Tuesday 18 April 2017]

 

The global output of 3D NAND flash memory chips is set to expand substantially in the second half of 2017, and will exceed that of 2D NAND chips in the fourth quarter of the year, according to industry sources.

Major NAND flash suppliers including Samsung Electronics, Micron Technology and Toshiba have rolled out 64-layer 3D NAND flash products, said the sources. SK Hynix has even introduced what the company claims is the industry’s first 72-layer 3D NAND flash chips.

Nevertheless, yield rates for these major suppliers’ 3D NAND technology have been unstable since 2017, the sources pointed out. Meanwhile, as the chipmakers put increased focus on transitioning to 3D NAND, their output for 2D NAND has reduced substantially. As a result, the global supply of NAND flash memory has been tight since 2017, but the chip shortage is expected to ease in the second half of 2017, the sources said.

Samsung, which has relatively stable yield rates for 3D NAND technology, is expected to scale up its output of 3D NAND chips significantly between May and June, the sources indicated. The vendor will likely start operating a new plant in Pyeongtaek in July to further expand its 3D NAND production capacity.

Meanwhile, yield rates for other NAND flash vendors’ 3D NAND technology are set to improve substantially boosting their chip shipments in the second half of 2017, the sources indicated. Micron, for example, will start producing 64-layer 3D NAND chips in the second quarter with mass shipments ready for the second half of the year.

With major chipmakers gearing up for mass shipments, the global output of 3D NAND chips is expected to exceed that of 2D chips in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the sources.

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Could ReRAM Replace NAND Flash?

New innovations are constantly being discovered that increase convenience and help us use the technologies we have come to rely on. The brilliant minds at Crossbar are taking it to the next level as they are working on a NAND flash replacement. While NAND operates by trapping electrons within a cell, the new technology will create resistance within the circuit, allowing a new way for consumers to store date. Crossbar has big plans on marketing their innovation at foundries already in existence.

Hindrances in NAND

While NAND flash has offered consumers a number of conveniences, since its nodes shrink, this causes the cells to decrease in size, thus an end result of the degradation of total lifespan and overall endurance. Furthermore, NAND technology has been made to clock more quickly, but this causes a noticeable affect on performance. Crossbar is ready to deliver a solution to many of these problems with the introduction of new and improved ReRam technology.

Speed and Precision You Can Count On

In a day and age when speed and precision count more than ever, ReRam technology will provide the answer so many consumers are looking for. In its development, Crossbar has addressed several issues currently experienced using NAND including:

  • The need to erase prior to programming, increasing speeds by multiple metrics
  • Excessive power consumption

 

When to Expect Commercialization

While many consumers are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to introduce ReRam technology into their daily lives, its introduction into the marketplace is still a ways off in the future. While testing and design tactics have been ongoing, there is still work to be done to ensure a quality product is being offered.

Furthermore, companies including Intel and Samsung have already made sizable investments into NAND technology. History has proven that it can take years for faster technologies to become integrated into widespread use. However, when it does begin to hit the market, users will enjoy:

  • Higher efficiency
  • Improved system performance
  • Increased retention
  • Ease of integration and scale
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Intel to Utilize NAND Technology

It has been announced that, in 2015, Intel will be joining Samsung in the use of NAND die stacking. This three dimensional stacking technique allows for chip layers to be stacked in vertical instead of horizontal planar structures. As they enter into this innovative field of technology, the company has big plans for its utilization.

Upping the Ante

NAND flash development has proven highly beneficial in reducing the cost per bit as well as increasing chip capacity. With this technology, Intel will be able to allow their flash memory to compete with alternatives like hard discs, and there is definitely demand for the technology. Among the uses for NAND include:

  • MP3 files
  • Digital cameras
  • USB drives
  • NAND flash

As Intel prepares to make their big announcement, it is speculated that they have followed Samsung’s lead in the utilization of a larger process node. Since the reliability of the device decreases along with the node size, this could help their launch of the use of NAND to be a success.

A Variety of User-End Features to Take Advantage Of

Technology can be complicated, but, all jargon aside, there are a number of exciting features for the end user to be excited about in regards to Intel’s utilization of NAND technology including:

  • High-performance memory
  • Maximum-value memory
  • Dual-plane mode which nearly doubles memory
  • Cache mode which enhances performance

Enhancing User Experience

Intel is dedicated to enhancing the overall user experience, and they have big plans for their upcoming use of NAND technology to achieve this goal. With over 20 years of industry experience in flash memory, they have plans for the expansion of NAND through its integration into Intel Architecture computing platforms. The end result will be improved battery life and a boost in performance. They are well prepared to meet growing demands as they plan to open multiple new manufacturing facilities over the next several years where state-of-the-art equipment will be in place and ready to implement NAND technology.

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Have Some Fun with Your USB Flash Drive

 

transformer_usb_flash_drive_16g_ravageUSB flash drives are everywhere you turn. They have become a necessary part of a society where mobile devices rule the world. They can store information, help us download programs, keep our pictures safer than a photo album… They are basically indispensable. But… do you want to have some real fun with your USB flash drive?

Take Your Basic, Boring Flash Drive and…

You can buy custom-made USB flash drives in various memory capacities.  And that’s awesome if you need a promotional item, gifts for a large number of people, etc.  But what if you have a common, everyday USB drive and you want to kick it up a notch?  There are some awesome ideas for doing exactly that all over YouTube.  It’s inexpensive for the most part and only requires couple of household items/supplies.

Five Creative Ideas for a Custom USB Flash Drive

The following are just a handful of suggestions concerning what can be done to spice up the life of your tired old USB flash drive.  Immediately following this list is the link to how they will look when finished: a Lego piece, a circuit board design, a pink eraser, a seemingly ‘broken’ USB cord and an old floppy disk.  Click here.

The inside of the flash drive is what’s important.  Basically you are simply taking that out of its old boring container and putting it into a new and exciting design.

 

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Don’t Stick That in There – You Don’t Know Where It’s Been!

 

usb-stick-1280px-922px0There is a form of computer terrorism making the rounds that involves the use of USB plug-ins.  Now before you get all worked up, no one is saying that USB plug-ins are a bad thing.  On the contrary, they are an extremely good thing.  But as with most everything in this world, it just takes one moron to turn something good into something bad.  And sadly, the trend usually catches on.  The following is a little something for the astute computer user to watch for.

Hey, Look What I Found… A USB Plug-In!

Now, if you’re at an Expo or have been handed a promotional USB plug-in by someone reputable, that’s not a problem.  “I found” might be good when it comes to a $20 bill, but not so much when it comes to a USB drive.  Apparently, someone uploaded a less than desirable program onto a bunch of USB flash drives and then scattered them all over a public building.  What ensued was nothing short of organized chaos when people picked them up and absently plugged them into their work computer.  A natural reaction.  Sadly, these USB flash drives proceeded to download their undesirable program onto these work computers.  Oops.

Don’t Be Taken In

Again, USB flash drives are a very popular promotional item and when used as such can be extremely beneficial to the receiver and to the company giving them away.  Leave it to one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch and in this case, unless you’re sure where that USB flash drive is coming, from you may want to avoid using it.  It’s the age old adage – if something seems too good to be true… It probably is.  Finding a $20 bill – awesome.  Finding a seemingly harmless, discarded USB drive and plugging it in, even if it’s way cool looking – guess again.

ALERT!!  Did you believe this story?  Well it is only partially true.  In actuality this was a stunt pulled by the powers that be in homeland security.  An experiment or test if you will.  Sadly, most people failed the exam.

 

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Don’t Throw Out Your Old USB Cables

 

usb_tYes, it’s true, modern technology has finally found a way to end the frustratingly monotonous occurrence that plagues most anyone that has ever used a USB cable for anything.  When was the last time you tried to plug in a USB cable and actually got it right on the first attempt?  No, not upside down.  The new Type C USB cable will end everyone’s frustration in that category.  But will it give cause to new frustration?

The Type C USB Cord – New and Improved?

Yes, in essence, this new USB cable is going to be an improvement over the old, never changing, 1990s model.  It will be reversible, load data faster, withstand higher wattages and reportedly be adaptable to all future updates.  That’s all well and good but guess what… You can’t use it in your current mobile device.  That’s right.  This new USB cable will require a new USB port.  And you know what that means…

Can You Afford All New Mobile Devices?

Of course you only have to get all new mobile devices if you want to use the new and improved Type C USB cable.  The question arose “what will happen with all of the old USB cords?”  Manufacturers are claiming that the new USB port will not completely and totally replace the old USB port but will be an added feature on newly designed mobile devices.  This means you can still use your old USB cords, even in the devices that contain new USB ports.

You might want to stop at your nearest store and snatch up all the USB cables that you can carry.  You find them these days as impulse items at the checkout counters for next to nothing.  Something’s going to change very soon when it comes to the pricing of USB cables… Mark my words.  Of course you can always make your own adaptable USB cable.

 

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USB Cables As Impulse Items

 

usbtypecconnectorSurely you’ve seen them at the checkout counter.  Lately, I was in a CVS drugstore picking up a few odds and ends and I spotted USB cables at the checkout for just a few dollars each.  Naturally, I had to grab one because I actually was having problems with one of my USB cables used to charge my cell phone.  With the new Type C USB cable ready to launch later this year, will the old USB cable still be seen as an impulse item?

How Will Pricing Compare?

It’s hard to believe that these new USB cables will be as inexpensive, affordable, cheap, what have you, as the current USB cables.  Something new and improved is never cheap, as a rule.  It’s going to be quite some time before all of your mobile devices incorporate the new USB ports, so what will that do to the sales of the old USB cables?  Will there be a surge in sales to snatch them all up before they become extinct?  Will people stop buying them altogether?

Don’t Be so Quick To Discard Your Old USB

A new USB cord means new USB ports.  New USB ports means that all of the devices you now have in your possession are going to be obsolete – at least when it comes to using the new and improved USB cables.  Cell phones, laptops and smart tablets have not yet gone the way of existing USB cords – that is, found at the checkout counter as impulse items.  Though with everyone needing to buy new mobile devices in order to accommodate the new cords, will the sale of devices containing the old USB ports plummet?

It seems nothing can ever be simple.  Though the new Type C USB cable will be compatible with all updates, our current devices are anything but compatible with this updated USB cord. So now what?

 

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Cool! A Reversible USB… Not so Fast…

 

usb-3-1-type-c-800x533Many of us will be happy to hear that the new Type C reversible USB will end the frustration of attempting to plug-in USB cables the wrong way, upside down, right side up, etc.  Additionally, they will be happy to know that download times will be reduced, wattage tolerance will be increased and the new USB cable will be completely and totally compatible with updates.  That’s the good news.

Are There Clouds Building on the Horizon?

As good as the above stated news is, there’s going to be a downside – isn’t there always?  Somebody’s always got to rain on your parade.  And sure enough, here come the clouds.  Compatibility is a major concern when it comes to the various mobile devices in your collection.  And whereas the new USB cables will be compatible with all products containing the new USB ports, and future updates, that is  actually exactly where the problem lies.  The new USB ports.  What’s the problem?  New USB cables – old USB ports!

Ready to Change out All Your Mobile Devices?

No, neither am I – not even for new and improved USB cable.  Manufacturers of mobile devices are going to have to change all of the ports on their current devices; and of course the new devices yet to come will include the new improved, and smaller, USB port. We are talking cell phones, laptops, smart tablets, etc. That some mighty pricey endeavor, I don’t care who you are.

Relax, the new Type C USB cord/cable isn’t even going to be available to the public until later on this year.  But it does pose the question of how convenient something actually is when it means changing all of your existing equipment.  Will someone come out with a Type C USB adapter do you suppose? And what if you plug it in upside down?

 

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Can’t We All Just Get Along?

 

th (2)USB, Micro USB, upside down plug-Ins, incompatibility with updates, limited (low) wattage tolerance, slow download speeds… Stop the madness!  Can’t somebody make a USB that rises to the occasion of today’s demands?  Good news techies – someone finally has!

The New and Improved Type C USB

Yes, you’ve come a long way baby – That is of course referring to the old 1990s rendition of the USB cord.  As much as it may have changed the world of technology back then, it has become a more or less frustrating piece of equipment that we have tolerated for lack of something better.  But something better is on the horizon.  Not just the horizon in fact… It’s here – in a manner of speaking.  It will be referred to as the Type C USB and it is going to change USBs as you know them.

Created but Not yet Produced

This amazing new little item – and I do mean little (the size of current micro USBs) – is not yet in mass production.  Hopefully you’ll see it by the end of this year.  This USB will be reversible, increase download speeds, tolerate higher wattages and play well with others when it comes to future upgrades.

Of course even once it’s mass-produced, it’s going to take the manufacturers of today’s mobile devices a while to change their USB ports to accommodate the new USB plug-ins.  Sheesh!  It’s always something.

 

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