Sandisk revealed that it will be transitioning its 24 nm flash production to a new 19 nm generation to remain cost competitive in the industry.
24 nm flash accounted for about 60 percent of the production in the third quarter; Q4 is likely to see an increase in 24 nm manufacturing while 19 nm is ramping up and should enable the company to deliver higher-capacity both 2-bit-per-cell MLC as well as 3-bit-per-cell X3 memory in 2012.
Sandisk expects its 2012 captive bit growth rate to be "somewhat higher than in 2011" due to the aggressive transition to 19 nm flash. Its growth will strongly depend on this move as well as the yields it can achieve on this new step, the company told analysts, during the recent Q3 earnings conference call. Sandisk noted that the total 2011 investment to enable 24 nm and 19 nm production will be between $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion.
CEO Sanjay Mehrotra confirmed that the 19 nm generation will follow the 24 nm product trend and make its way into general flash memory products as well as SSDs. However, it appears that Sandisk is especially shooting for an opportunity in the ultramobile market in the near future as Mehrotra described both tablets and smartphones as "strong" growth drivers. "I think you'll see that tablets are going to use large amount of flash in the future, and the numbers for tablets as a category are continuing to grow strongly and same thing applies for flash," he said.