Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Die Size, NAND, DRAM 3D Roadmaps

Die sizes of various NAND chips shown below is a good indication of potential cost advantage. However, if the smaller die is made on a more expensive fab manufacturing process, its die would not be cheaper. Only when the fab new process advance enough along the learning curve would the smaller die be cheaper .

The project roadmap for the transition to 3D manufacturing is at NAND, DRAM 3D-Transition Roadmaps

Insightful, timely, and accurate semiconductor consulting.
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Measuring Toshiba's 15nm 128Gbit MLC NAND Die Size

by Kristian Vättö on August 22, 2014 12:42 PM EST
At Flash Memory Summit, Toshiba was showcasing their latest 15nm 128Gbit MLC NAND wafer that has been developed in partnership with SanDisk. I simply could not resist to calculate the die size as Toshiba/SanDisk has not published it and die size is always the basis of any semiconductor cost analysis. 
Die Size
To estimate the die size, I used the same method as with Samsung's second generation V-NAND. Basically I just calculated the amount of dies in both X and Y axes of the wafer as that gives as an approximation of the die size since we know that the diameter of the wafer is 300mm. 
Bit Density
The 15nm node from Toshiba/SanDisk is extremely competitive. Its bit density is essentially equivalent to Samsung's V-NAND, so it is no wonder that Toshiba and SanDisk are betting heavily on their 15nm node before moving to 3D in early 2016. Compared to other 2D NAND dies, the 15nm node is a clear winner from bit density standpoint as Micron's 16nm MLC does not even come close.
Toshiba's and SanDisk's secret lies in two-sided sense amp and all bit line (ABL) architecture, which reduce the size of the peripheral circuits and sense amplifier, resulting in higher memory array efficiency. Based on my estimation, the array efficiency (i.e. how big portion of the die is dedicated to memory cells) is about 80%, which is typical for a 128Gbit capacity. Higher capacities tend to yield better array efficiency since the peripheral circuitry does not scale as well as the memory cells do, so increasing the die capacity is one of the key solutions in lowering the cost per gigabyte.
Since nobody has yet taken a cross-section of the 15nm die, it is hard to say for sure what Toshiba and SanDisk are doing to shrink the dimensions. There is no mention of high-K dielectrics, so that seems unlikely and if history is any guidance, then Toshiba/SanDisk is simply increasing the aspect ratio by making the floating gate taller to compensate for the smaller feature size and keep the overall floating gate volume similar. That also helps to maintain the gate coupling ratio because the control gate is still wrapped around the floating gate and with a taller floating gate the capacitance between the gates should remain sufficient despite the increasing proximity of the floating gates. 
The production of Toshiba/SanDisk 15nm NAND node is currently ramping up and SSDs based on the new node are expected in Q4'14.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi and China

Samsung face challenge due to lost business of Apple’s iPhones chips on one side (see October 2012 blog - Apple Cutting Out Samsung Chips )

While on the other side Samsung is squeezed by the rise of local cell phone vendors in china such as Xiaomi, Coolpad, Huawei, Lenovo, and ZTE (see Jan 2013 blog - Apples' Cook in China (MediaTek Impact). In addition see today's introduction of Xiaomi launches MIUI 6, makes Android look more like iOS 7

More on the fast rise of Xiaomi that "in the smartphone market in one of the world's biggest markets, research firm Canalys has revealed that Xiaomi was the market leader in its home territory of China, jumping ahead of Samsung for the first time in Q2 2014.
In the three months to the end of June, Xiaomi held a 14% market share in China with Samsung, Lenovo and CoolPad all trailing with 12% of the market while Huawei creeped into fifth spot with an 11% market share.

While it is not surprising to see Xiaomi at the top of the charts, the speed it has happened is surprising. In the first quarter of 2014, Samsung held an 18% market share while Xiaomi held just over 10%."  

Samsung respond by introducing a smartphone for china mobile as detailed in the article below.

Insightful, timely, and accurate semiconductor consulting.
Semiconductor information and news at - 

Samsung Launches Galaxy Win Pro Smartphone for China Mobile Powered by Marvell's ARMADA Mobile PXA1088 Quad-Core Platform 

February 18, 2014, 8:06 a.m. ET

Marvell's field-proven unified multi-core 3G mobile platform solution enables Samsung's latest world phone, the Galaxy Win Pro, to serve China Mobile's vast subscriber base with global WCDMA roaming capability

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Feb. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Marvell (Nasdaq: MRVL) today announced the launch of the Galaxy Win Pro Smartphone for China Mobile powered by Marvell's ARMADA(R) Mobile PXA1088 Quad-Core Platform. Marvell's unified multi-core 3G mobile platform solution enables Samsung's Galaxy Win Pro, to serve China Mobile's vast subscriber base with global WCDMA roaming capability. The ARMADA Mobile PXA1088 single-chip platform is designed to drive high-quality and high-performance affordable solutions for mobile devices, furthering the "Smart Life and Smart Lifestyle." The Samsung Galaxy Win Pro is designed for China Mobile's expansive customer base and supports Global System for Mobile (GSM) and Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access (TD-SCDMA) Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) to enable customers to have seamless Internet access regardless of location. With the Samsung Galaxy Win Pro, traveling is made easy for China Mobile's subscribers since they do not have to carry or lease extra 3G phones for global roaming with WCDMA/HSPA+.

"I am very proud to see the launch of Samsung's Galaxy Win Pro, quad-core-based mass-market smartphone for the world's largest mobile operator, China Mobile. Samsung's global leadership in delivering such affordable mobile devices with outstanding performance has enriched the lives of billions of consumers around the world through better communication and education," said Weili Dai, President and Co-Founder of Marvell. "I am very proud of our close collaboration with all key partners in the mobile ecosystem in driving the 'Smart Life and Smart Lifestyle.' I am very thankful to Samsung for their collaboration and dedication and thankful to Marvell's global teams of talented engineers for the passion, innovation and tireless effort to the successful launch of this great Galaxy smartphone."

The Samsung Galaxy Win Pro is a TD-SCDMA/GSM and W-CDMA/GSM dual-mode design that uses Marvell's all-in-one unified mobile computing platform, including wireless modem and RF transceiver that provide 3G world phone support. This enables the Samsung Galaxy Win Pro to be the choice of China Mobile's subscribers who needs to travel overseas. In addition to Marvell's ARMADA Mobile PXA1088, the Galaxy Win Pro also features the latest Marvell's RF839 3G radio transceiver, Marvell's advanced Avastar(R) 88W8777 IEEE802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity, and L2000 GPS. It also features a 4.5-inch qHD high resolution display, a 5MP camera and 8GB MLC storage with 1GB LPDDR2 memory.

About the Marvell ARMADA Mobile PXA1088:
The Marvell PXA1088 is a highly integrated quad-core application and communications mobile System-on-Chip (SoC) designed to provide high-performance, low-power mobile computing; support for all global broadband 3G standards, enabling seamless global roaming; and the latest wireless connectivity technology. Marvell's PXA1088 platform incorporates the performance of a quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 with Marvell's mature and field-proven cellular modem, including support for High Speed Packet Access Plus (HSPA+), Time Division High Speed Packet Access Plus (TD-HSPA+) and Enhanced Data for GSM Environment (EDGE). The PXA1088 enables a breakthrough end user experience for multimedia and gaming applications with universal connectivity. Marvell's complete mobile platform solution includes Marvell's advanced Avastar 88W8777 WLAN + Bluetooth 4.0 + FM single-chip SoC and the 88L2000 GNSS Hybrid Location Processor, and an integrated power management and audio codec IC. Marvell's unified mobile platform, includes the PXA986, PXA988, PXA1088 and PXA1088LTE, thus enabling easy migration from dual-core to quad-core solutions and support for TD-SCDMA, WCDMA and LTE.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Top Semiconductor (1st Qtr 2014) Vendors

IC Insights have a new report about the top semiconductor ranking (see below).

"The ranking by IC Insights include three pure-play foundries (TSMC, GlobalFoundries, and UMC) and six fabless companies. It is interesting to note that the top four semiconductor suppliers all have different business models. Intel is essentially a pure-play IDM, Samsung a vertically integrated IC supplier, TSMC a pure-play foundry, and Qualcomm a fabless company, as observed by IC Insights."

As mentioned previously ( Top 25 2011 Semiconductor Sales Ranking) NAND market growth is not well document here. It is important to note that the semiconductor sales and growth rankings do not include SanDisk's $5.66B sales in 2011 and more than $6 Billion in 2013.

Insightful, timely, and accurate semiconductor consulting.
Semiconductor information and news at - 

Top 20 semiconductor vendors in 1Q2014

Date: 03/08/2014
The top-20 semiconductor ranking in Q1 2014 is quite a mix of companies with different product focus. The ranking by IC Insights include three pure-play foundries (TSMC, GlobalFoundries, and UMC) and six fabless companies. It is interesting to note that the top four semiconductor suppliers all have different business models. Intel is essentially a pure-play IDM, Samsung a vertically integrated IC supplier, TSMC a pure-play foundry, and Qualcomm a fabless company, as observed by IC Insights.

The further finding shared by IC Insights include:

IC foundries are included in the top 20 ranking because IC Insights has always viewed the ranking as a top supplier list, not as a market share ranking, and realizes that in some cases semiconductor sales are double counted. With many of our clients being vendors to the semiconductor industry (supplying equipment, chemicals, gases, etc.), excluding large IC manufacturers like the foundries would leave significant “holes” in the list of top semiconductor suppliers. Foundries and fabless companies are clearly identified in Figure 1. In the April Update to The McClean Report, market share rankings of IC suppliers by product type were presented and foundries were excluded from these listings.

It should be noted that not all foundry sales should be excluded when attempting to create marketshare data. For example, although Samsung had a large amount of foundry sales in the first quarter, most of its sales were to Apple. Apple does not re-sell these devices, so counting these foundry sales as Samsung semiconductor sales does not introduce double counting.

Overall, the list shown in Figure 1 is provided as a guideline to identify which companies are the leading semiconductor suppliers, whether they are IDMs, fabless companies, or foundries.

top semiconductor 20 2014

Figure 1

Outside of the top five spots, there were numerous changes within the 1Q14 top-20 semiconductor supplier ranking. As shown, MediaTek jumped up four positions in 1Q14 as compared to 1Q13 into 12th place. MediaTek continues to experience extremely strong demand for its devices in the booming low-end smartphone business in China and other Asia-Pacific locations. Moreover, MediaTek and MStar finalized their merger on February 1, 2014. Annual post-merger sales for MediaTek are expected to be well over $6 billion.

After Avago’s purchase of LSI Corp. on May 6, 2014, the combined annual semiconductor sales run-rate of the two companies is likely to be over $5 billion. Also, last year’s Micron/Elpida merger essentially created a new “giant” semiconductor company with Micron’s sales expected to be over $17 billion this year!

It should be noted that the sales of Micron and Elpida (merged on July 1, 2013), MediaTek and MStar, and Avago and LSI use the combined sales of the two companies for both 1Q13 and 1Q14, regardless of when the merger actually occurred. This was done in an attempt to make the company’s 1Q14/1Q13 sales growth rates more directly comparable and give a clearer picture of the merged company’s sizes going forward.

Another potential merger to keep a watch for in the future is Fujitsu and Panasonic. In February of this year, the two Japan-based companies signed a memorandum of understanding to combine the two companies’ system LSI businesses and form a new fabless semiconductor company. IC Insights estimates that the combined 1Q14 semiconductor sales of these two companies was about $1.25 billion (down from $1.44 billion in 1Q13), which would have ranked the “merged” company as the sixteenth largest semiconductor company in the first quarter of this year.

In total, the top 20 semiconductor companies’ sales increased by 9% in 1Q14 as compared to 1Q13, which was two points higher than IC Insights’ current 7% forecast for total worldwide semiconductor market growth this year. As shown, it took total semiconductor sales of just over $1.0 billion to make the 1Q14 top 20 ranking.

Figure 2 shows that there was a 58-percentage-point range of year-over-year growth rates among the 1Q14 worldwide top 20 semiconductor suppliers—from +48% for MediaTek/MStar to -10% for ST (it should be noted that excluding the legacy ST-Ericsson products, ST’s 1Q14/1Q13 sales increased 1%).

top semiconductor 20 2014

Figure 2

The success of the fabless and fab-lite business models and the continued strong growth of the memory market are evident when examining the top 20 semiconductor suppliers that logged double-digit growth in 1Q14. As shown, 10 of the top 11 1Q14 performers were either memory suppliers (SK Hynix, Micron, and Samsung) or fabless/fab-lite companies (MediaTek, AMD, Infineon, Freescale, Avago/LSI, NXP, and Nvidia).