A crowded slate of mobile devices incorporating high densities of NAND flash memory is now on the market in time for the approaching holiday season, stoking the hopes of memory manufacturers for strong shipments in the fourth quarter, according to an IHS iSuppli Memory On the Move market brief from information and analytics provider IHS.
Thanks to the steady progress of lithography shrinks, NAND flash storage density continues to rise in mobile devices, evident in a number of new and upcoming smartphones and tablets.
With the third quarter drawing to a close, mobile and smart devices are once again the center of attention from original equipment manufacturers and their customers readying products for the upcoming holiday season. As Ultrabooks struggle to overcome high pricing and low mindshare, and in light of the paucity of fresh and exciting new developments in TVs and video game consoles, it will be mobile devices—powered by mobile memory—that retain or monopolize the interest of consumers, IHS iSuppli believes.
The Lumia 920 from Nokia, for instance, doubles the 16 gigabytes (GB) of its predecessor, the Lumia 900. Meanwhile, new 64GB options are available for top-tier phones and tablets from several brands. These include the Galaxy Note II and the Galaxy S III, both from Samsung; the Xperia Tablet S from Sony; the forthcoming One X+ smartphone from HTC; and the Kindle Fire HD from Amazon.
Two opposing trends also are helping boost NAND consumption. On one end of the equation, recent Android-based Nexus phones from Google follow the trend seen in competing top-tier devices, in which phones carry high levels of embedded storage but no microSD card slot. On the other side of the equation, new Windows phones from Samsung and HTC add to high embedded densities and full support for microSD cards missing from Windows Phone 7.5—another clear nod of support for NAND in the new phones, since NAND is the primary type of flash memory used in microSD cards.
Perhaps the only exceptions to high-profile products coming with healthy storage increases are Apple’s iPhone 5 and the Nook HD from Barnes & Noble. The iPhone 5 has the same 16GB to 64GB options for memory, similar to the iPhone 4S; while the Nook HD features the identical 8GB to 16GB options, unchanged from the NAND storage density of the Nook Tablet.
Despite those omissions, the increased demand for NAND storage helped push up the IHS iSuppli NAND index by 3 percent in September—a notable increase that has not taken place since exactly one year ago, when holiday demand also accounted for a rise in the index, which measures chip-pricing trends.
Part of the drive toward increased embedded storage is the current wave of updates for mobile operating systems, paired together with superior hardware. Many refinements focus on multitasking, which requires increased dynamic random access memory (DRAM). Added features for camera phones also drive up picture storage requirements, in turn spurring the need for more memory in the phones.
One new mobile device generating interest in its implicit support of NAND is the smart camera. Started by Polaroid with its SC1630, these point-and-shoot cameras highlight Wi-Fi connectivity, along with smartphone-quality hardware and operating systems.
Other smart cameras are also available from Nikon, which has GPS and wireless 3G capabilities; and Samsung, which supports 4G to encourage immediate photo sharing. The smart camera models from all three companies include microSD card storage—a boon for NAND once again—plus 16 megapixels in resolution, which should encourage the use of bigger memory cards.
With mobile devices likely at the top of consumer shopping lists for the holidays, memory manufacturers are readying themselves for another strong fourth quarter. More sophisticated devices, operating systems and use cases are driving software complexity, which then requires ever-higher loading of flash memory, as well as DRAM.
Projections show record handset NAND output for the fourth quarter this year will reach nearly 1.8 billion gigabytes, up 7 percent from the previous quarter, and up a whopping 98 percent from last year.
Read More >> A Paniply of Holiday Demand for Mobile Memory