Within hours of visiting Crucial at CES, my phone was ringing off the hook. The people that I consult for wanted to know the inside scoop, 960GB in a $600 SSD with better than acceptable performance for their needs, companies wanted to know why and where - they were ready to place orders. Fast forward six months and they've placed orders, as has everyone else. Micron needed 20nm flash and it needed it fast. One of the biggest buyers, the government and over the past few weeks we found what they need all of this high performance storage for.
This story doesn't start with Micron or in 2013 for that matter. In a move to increase prices, last July Toshiba announced plans to cut NAND flash production by 30%. By September, OCZ Technology warned investors of a lower forecast citing a shortage of NAND chips used to build storage devices. In March 2013, Peter K. Hazen, Director of SSD Marketing, NVM Solutions Group sent a letter to customers with the excerpt below.
Intel remains very committed to our SSD business. As a leading NAND flash memory manufacturer with our IM Flash Technologies partner Micron, our NAND supply continues to grow every quarter and as a result we expect to have twice the SSD output in 2013 as we did in 2012. Through internal and industry forecasts, we originally felt this would be sufficient to meet our customers' demand.
Unfortunately, even 2x supply growth is not sufficient. Even in the first half of this year, we expect to ship more than 2x the units in Q1 and Q2 than the same quarters last year, but it is not enough to meet our aggregate customer demand. We recognize that this can be disruptive to your business and we are working with our customers worldwide to minimize the impact and maximize the output. This will also mean we will not necessarily be doubling output on every product line, but will focus output on the datacenter and professional client product lines to help satisfy demand on products that our customers have designed in, and will reduce the volume on products for segments that are more transactional in nature.
Intel has and will continue to launch new SSD products in 2013 that utilize the smallest, most cost-effective NAND available (20nm), and these products are the key to increasing capacity as we are able to ship more SSDs per wafer than prior generations. Please support the migrations to these new products as well as take advantage of their greater performance and new features, while still maintaining industry-leading quality and endurance.
From that point, things must have gone horribly wrong or amazingly well depending on what side of the fence you're on. Let's take a look at what the NAND flash shortage of 2013 means for manufacturers of consumer SSDs and what it means to you as well.