Apple’s flash storage supplier suffers major contamination, NAND chip prices expected to see a spike

One of Apple’s primary flash storage suppliers recently had to cut production at its production facilities in Japan after contamination was discovered in raw materials. The rest of the industry is likely to be impacted by price hikes and stress on the supply chain.

Apple flash storage

6.5 million terabytes of flash storage ruined because of contamination, rest of the industry likely to be impacted

Western Digital and Kioxia (formerly known as Toshiba) are some of the world’s leading SSD suppliers with their joint production adding up to 30 percent of the entire NAND flash storage market. Research firm TrendForce expects the price of NAND to spike up to 10 percent starting in the second quarter of 2022.

In addition, according to TrendForce, the combined WDC/Kioxia NAND Flash market share in the 3Q21 was as high as 32.5%. The consequences of this latest incident may push the price of NAND Flash in Q2 to spike 5~10%.

Western Digital says that it has lost 6.5 exabytes (6.5 million terabytes) worth of BiCS 3D NAND flash storage due to the use of contaminated materials at two of its plants in Japan in January. According to a report from Bloomberg, Western Digital’s loss combined with Kioxia’s would be about 16 exabytes lost.

An Ace Research Institute analyst, Hideki Yasuda, also said that flash storage prices will rise as a result of the contamination. This will ultimately combine with other industry price increases due to shortages in the supply chain.

However, Samsung and Micron could help relieve some of the strain of the industry with their own flash memory production. A reduction in supply from two major suppliers will also cause increased demand for Samsung.

Western Digital and Kioxia did not offer an estimate for when production will resume at the affected plants.

Apple uses Kioxia NAND chips in many of its products, including the iPhone 13 lineup, the iPad Pro, and the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro. If any existing Apple products manufactured with Kioxia storage in January will need to be recalled is currently unknown.

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About the Author

Asma is an editor at iThinkDifferent with a strong focus on social media, Apple news, streaming services, guides, mobile gaming, app reviews, and more. When not blogging, Asma loves to play with her cat, draw, and binge on Netflix shows.

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