Flash chip prices are falling thanks to over-supply and slow markets in Europe and the USA.
NAND contract prices eased in the second half of November, as reported in Digitimes. How come? The recent Thai floods paralysed the hard drive supply chain - and this was supposed to stimulate demand for NAND flash, as manufacturers look elsewhere to source components.
Bad call. Contract prices for mainstream multi-level cell chips declined by four to six per cent in the latter half of November, with weak shipments of NAND to the PC, smartphone and tablet markets to blame. DRAMeXchange, a market watcher, reports sluggish channel demand in Europe and the USA.
Over-supply could continue as the flash foundries transition to higher yield 2Xnm and 1Xnm processes. Booming tablet demand could soak up some excess inventory and thin and light NAND-loving ultrabook laptops are expected to make a big splash in 2012.
According to the market research firm IHS iSuppli, the ultrabook share of global notebook shipments will exceed 40 per cent in 2015 - so there may be some respite for flash makers, some time. ®