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Apple to Buy 3D NAND Memory from Chinese YMTC

Xtacking 3.0 promo image
(Image credit: YMTC)

Apple has reportedly approved 3D NAND flash produced by Yangtze Memory Technologies Corp. and will now use it for its upcoming iPhone 14 smartphones. The move represents a strong win for YMTC and will ensure steady supply of flash memory for Apple's next-generation products. 

For now, Yangtze Memory will supply Apple 3D NAND for its upcoming iPhone 14 handsets, reports BusinessKorea. Smartphones are Apple's most popular products, so Apple needs boatload of DRAM and NAND for its smartphones. But eventually Apple could adopt YMTC's memory for other products as well. For example, YMTC has extremely competitive products incoming, such as its latest family of six-plane 3D NAND chips featuring the company's Xtacking 3.0 architecture and a 2400 MT/s interface speed. These chips could eventually enable some of the best SSDs

It is going to take a while for YMTC's latest products to mature and get into Apple's other products. But considering specifications offered by the company's latest 3D NAND devices as well as Apple's expertise in 3D NAND and controllers, YMTC's have all chances to land into iPads or Macs at some point. 

Being one of the world's largest consumers of 3D NAND flash, Apple tends to procure memory from different vendors, including Kioxia, Samsung, and SK Hynix. Adding YMTC to the supply chain means that Apple will now have more choice from characteristics and performance points of view as well as better positions to negotiate prices as many products supplied by the four manufacturers are more or less identical. 

From YMTC standpoint, winning a supply contract with Apple is a big deal as so far the company has primarily shipped its 3D NAND as well as solid-state drives to Chinese vendors. 

Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • cyrusfox
    I don't understand at all how they can possibly be cost competitive with the big NAND makers (Hynix + Solidigm, Samsung, Micron, Kioxia).

    The issue I see is they are stacking 2 wafers together, one with the CMOS logic, the other with the memory array. That is double the wafer cost of all the competitors. What are the benefits of separating memory cells from logic? Faster cadence of improvements on either component? From what I understand xtacking bonding/stacking a whole wafer, I could easily see the benefit if we are stacking individual dies.

    Getting the apple seal of approval is a big deal though, and congrats to them.
    Reply
  • 4m12020
    cyrusfox said:
    I don't understand at all how they can possibly be cost competitive with the big NAND makers (Hynix + Solidigm, Samsung, Micron, Kioxia).

    YMTC isn't cost competitive, but their government has subsidized them to the tune of $24B to date. This funding has enabled YMTC to exist and build fabs where a normal free market company would have folded long ago. They also have predatory pricing and undercut the industry so they can take market share (which is illegal). This type of mercantilism really distorts the market and is a huge threat to South Korea as a country.

    People cry foul against these export bans against China because it doesn't uphold true free market principles, but the reason the export bans exist is because China isn't upholding free market principles.
    Reply
  • Support_Lemon
    4m12020 said:
    China isn't upholding free market principles.
    How else can China compete? Allowing their economy to develop organically won't work in a million years. They are no different from the Japanese in the 1970s/80s, and the Koreans/Taiwanese in the 80s/90s. Heavy handed subsidies, and state intervention built the Asian Tigers. China is simply copying their neighbors (South Korean companies like Samsung and SK Hynix received copious amounts of subsidies when they first started out, it was never an even playing field for Chinese companies).
    Reply
  • setx
    It's pretty funny how ignorant people here about current state of NAND production: https://semianalysis.substack.com/p/2022-nand-process-technology-comparison
    Reply
  • zval
    cyrusfox said:
    I don't understand at all how they can possibly be cost competitive with the big NAND makers

    If YMTC somehow manages to simplify other processes, wafer-to-wafer bonding could become cost-effective. The cost of the pure silicon wafer only accounts for a small portion of the total cost. According to a video by Dr. Ian Cutress, the cost of a raw silicon wafer is around 100-400 USD, while the total manufacturing cost for a 14nm wafer is more than 10,000 USD. So even if YMTC uses 2x raw silicon wafers, the raw material cost is still well less than 10% of the total cost.

    The benefit of wafer-to-wafer bonding will become more apparent as the number of vertical stacking layers increases, according to YMTC's recent presentation at FMS 2022. Interesingly, Samsung also puts wafer-to-wafer bonding in their NAND process roadmap for 2025:

    https://semiwiki.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Samsung-Keynote-Figure-3-768x469.jpg
    Reply
  • 4m12020
    Support_Lemon said:
    How else can China compete?
    They don’t “compete” on NAND…that’s the problem, they undercut everyone. It’s illegal to implement predatory pricing in every industry. That’s not competition, it’s economic warfare. They’ll have equipment bans imposed on them and will have to develop that industry while their NAND business will be forced to shutdown. And their government will say it’s unfair.
    Reply
  • escksu
    4m12020 said:
    They don’t “compete” on NAND…that’s the problem, they undercut everyone. It’s illegal to implement predatory pricing in every industry. That’s not competition, it’s economic warfare. They’ll have equipment bans imposed on them and will have to develop that industry while their NAND business will be forced to shutdown. And their government will say it’s unfair.

    Illegal?? Whose law?? I do agree its illegal within a country but thats about it. Its a free world out there and anyone is free to undercut anyone and everyone. Of course you are free not to buy.
    Reply
  • 4m12020
    escksu said:
    Illegal?? Whose law?? I do agree its illegal within a country but thats about it. Its a free world out there and anyone is free to undercut anyone and everyone. Of course you are free not to buy.

    The WTO GATT
    Reply
  • traxxmy
    4m12020 said:
    YMTC isn't cost competitive, but their government has subsidized them to the tune of $24B to date. This funding has enabled YMTC to exist and build fabs where a normal free market company would have folded long ago. They also have predatory pricing and undercut the industry so they can take market share (which is illegal). This type of mercantilism really distorts the market and is a huge threat to South Korea as a country.

    People cry foul against these export bans against China because it doesn't uphold true free market principles, but the reason the export bans exist is because China isn't upholding free market principles.

    Atleast they provide subsidised product which lower the products price and be competitive unlike US that only know to play cheat by create law out of no where to blacklist company and stifling innovation
    Reply
  • traxxmy
    4m12020 said:
    They don’t “compete” on NAND…that’s the problem, they undercut everyone. It’s illegal to implement predatory pricing in every industry. That’s not competition, it’s economic warfare. They’ll have equipment bans imposed on them and will have to develop that industry while their NAND business will be forced to shutdown. And their government will say it’s unfair.

    Do USA even DARE "compete" in first place.
    Reply