Data Storage: 2011 Flash Memory Summit Takeaway: Huge Demand to Continue Through 2015
Demand Drivers Indicate Good Long-term Growth
With 222 million iOS units already sold and 1.1 billion flash-enabled smartphones (a 240 percent growth rate growth over five years) expected to be in use worldwide by 2015, "these staggering numbers are starting to affect the population of the world," SanDisk CTO Yoram Cedar said in his keynote address on Aug. 9.
Predictable Supply of Flash for Next Five Years
Analysts report that demand and supply appear to be in balance for the NAND flash industry going forward, with the industry expected to readily cover sharply higher need and better chips. This bodes well for the entire smartphone and tablet industries.
Mobile Catching Up With Enterprise Flash Deployments
A full 33 percent of all NAND flash bits in the overall market will be stored in personal and business mobile devices, with the majority in enterprise storage and removable storage devices.
Tablets Came From Nowhere, Now Theyre Where Its At
Two years ago, there was barely a mention of tablets as a market that would become a major player, but by 2015 there will be about 327 million of them moving NAND flash-based bits around the world. That represents a 500 percent growth spurt over six years (2010 to 2015) representing 15 percent of all flash-based storage.
Enterprise SSDs Also Looking at Big-Time Growth in Next Five Years
Manufacturers of NAND flash-based disks for portable PCs and enterprise data centers, such as Samsung, Seagate, WD, Micron, Toshiba and SanDisk, are being told by analysts that they can expect a 7X increase in sales from now through 2015, or a total of about 133 million units sold per year.
Significant Storage in Removable Devices
About 26 percent of all NAND flash-enabled storage is contained in removable mass-storage devices, such as memory cards for cameras, videocams, portable desk storage cartridges, thumb drives and others.
NAND Flash Continues as a Disruptive Player in Storage
For years, digital storage on solid-state devices has been moving aside film, compact discs and tape (for three well-known examples) as the final storing place for most personal and business documents. The full-court press on those earlier technologies is only going to continue.
Jumbo Storage in Phones Cannot Be Done Without Flash
Mobile phone makers have made 32GB of storage common option, but it wasn't that long ago that this much storage for photos, music and video was a mere pipe dream. Fast-moving development in extending the capacity of NAND flash has brought this about.
Social Networking Pushing More Use of Flash
With all the on-demand texting, emailing, snapshot photos and videos and music being posted to sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Chatter, Yammer and YouTube, users of flash-enabled smartphones and tablets are already spoiled about how fast they can post all this information. Speed is flash's main stock in trade, and once a user has it, it's tough to change to anything elseunless that "anything else" is even faster.
3D RAM on the Drawing Boards
At this point, going from flat chips to three-dimensional chipssimilar to what Intel is doing with its processor chipsis a work in progress and has been for a few years, but the promise is that it will scale incredibly well and cause a major breakthrough in NAND flash capacity. This is still several year away, however.