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NAND flash gaining on NOR

Mar 30, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

The flash memory market grew substantially in 2005, driven by demand from consumer and communications applications, according to IC Insights. Interestingly, the NOR and NAND segments headed in opposite directions, with NOR sales declining 13 percent to $8.0 billion, while the NAND segment grew 64 percent to $10.6 billion, the research firm says.

Both NOR and NAND unit shipments rose significantly in 2005, with NOR growing nine percent to 4.1 billion units, and NAND rising a whopping 88 percent, to 1.2 billion unit shipments for the year, IC Insights says.

Combined, the NOR/NAND flash market reached $18.6 billion in 2005, a 19 percent increase from the $15.6 billion figure reported by IC Insights for 2004.

Samsung retained its position as the top flash supplier, with some 35 percent of the market. Samsung markets primarily NAND flash chips, and was selected to supply flash chips for Apple's iPods “nano” model in the second half of 2005. Its 2005 sales grew 47 percent, to $6.6B, IC Insights says.

As an aside, Samsung also owns about a third of the DRAM chip market. Three Samsung executives last week pled guilty to DRAM price fixing, and will spend time in jail here.

Rounding out IC Insights's list of top flash suppliers are Toshiba, also a NAND supplier (13 percent market share), Intel (12 percent), AMD/Spansion (10 percent), and STMicroelectronics (7 percent). The latter three primarly focus on NOR technology, but both Intel and STMicroelectronics are taking steps to become players in the NAND segment, beginning this year, IC Insights says.

Additional details are available in IC Insight's “The McClean Report,” available for $2,190 for a single-user copy, or $5,490 for a multi-user corporate license.

NOR and NAND flash are named for terms that describe two types of logic gates in integrated circuits.

NOR is relatively expensive, and can read and randomly access data very quickly. It has traditionally been used to store bootloaders, as well as operating systems and application code in embedded devices.

NAND offers higher densities, lower cost, and faster write and erase times, as well as a longer re-write life expectancy — all features that have made it popular in cameras, MP3 players, and removable storage devices of various types.

A more complete comparison of NOR and NAND flash tradeoffs can be found in this Datalight whitepaper. A Datalight whitepaper on the “future of NAND flash memory” is also available.

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