Samsung plans to double the production capacity of NAND flash memory in China. To achieve that, the South Korean electronics giant will invest $7 billion in the next three years. The investment will be used to build a second production line in the Chinese city of Xi’an.
Once completed, Samsung should be able to produce 220,000 wafers per month which will be used for the production of 3D NAND flash memory. The Japanese website Nikkei notes that the investment is also a demonstration of Samsung’s commitment to China. It should also contribute to a positive attitude of the Chinese authorities towards Samsung. Last year, a Chinese government organization targeted Samsung and some other memory manufacturers in a price fixing probe. Because Chinese smartphone manufacturers purchase large quantities of NAND and DRAM memory, the Chinese government is closely watching the memory market.
Currently, NAND flash memory prices go down. It was expected prices would go up again after a power-loss event in a Samsung Fab where 60,000 wafers were lost. However, so far there has been no sign the event has any influence on NAND prices
Samsung is not the only South Korean company that supplies Chinese smartphone manufacturers with memory. Also, SK Hynix ships large quantities of chips to China. Last year both Samsung and SK Hynix exported for $66.4 billion of semiconductors to the world’s most populated country, a new record.
Nevertheless, China heavily invests in its own memory production capacity. The state owned Tsinghua Unigroup has stated it will invest more than $100 billion in the next 10 years. This should make sure China has to depend less on other countries for its memory supplies. However, dependence on South Korean companies will likely continue for a while, Chinese chip makers are currently only able to produce 2D NAND and their R&D on 3D NAND lags behind that of the South Korean chip giants.
Besides Samsung, also Toshiba today announced it will invest in the production of 3D NAND flash. The company will invest $1.31 billion in fab 6, located in Yokkaichi, Japan. The fab should boost the output of Toshiba’s 96-layer 3D NAND flash.