Micron: Flash in the Plan

Semiconductor player Micron Technology is jumping into the NAND Flash memory market for memory cards, USB devices and other mass storage applications.

The company expects its first NAND product, a 2Gb component, to hit the market by year’s end. Officials said with the Flash card market starting to transition from 128MB to 256MB density, and NAND as the volume leader, the 2Gb density enables Micron to offer the right NAND Flash density at the right time to meet these core removable storage market requirements.

Micron, though best known as a traditional DRAM manufacturer, is moving to capitalize on the growing demand for high-performance, low-cost flash memory in mobile applications and devices — and is also placing its bets that NAND is a more popular form of flash memory, compared to NOR flash.

The move also comes as Flash memory and NAND flash in particular are enjoying solid growth outlooks in their segments of the semiconductor market. In May, Web-Feet Research estimated that Flash memory and DRAM manufacturers would experience huge demand from 2004 through 2006.

The firm reckoned that growth rates in 2004 alone would top 209 percent, followed by 191 percent in 2005 and a cooling down to 150 percent by 2006. The firm also said to look for new memory products to hit the market in two years, which
would feature a combination of NOR and NAND cells.

Throughout the past year, Micron has restructured many of its operations in order to stem a spate of red in its earnings, and to adjust to the changes in the memory marketplace. In this market announcement, Micron said it would diversify with products including NAND, CellularRAM devices, RLDRAM II devices and CMOS image sensors.

Indeed, Micron added, NAND compliments Micron’s existing product portfolio and further enables the company to support customers as a pure semiconductor manufacturer.

Jan du Preez, Micron’s vice president of networking and communication, said the company’s entry to the NAND market is aggressive, starting with the introduction of its first device on 90nm followed by process migrations to 72nm and then 58nm. The NAND plan reflects multiple configurations and density migrations up to 16Gb.

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