With the dust settled, the feud wiped clean with manufacturing partner Western Digital, and a $17.7 billion cash infusion from investor Bain Capital, Toshiba is ready to let loose with new memory technologies coming from new manufacturing facilities.
Toshiba currently has Fab 6 (a manufacturing facility) under construction with a completion date estimated for Q4 2018. That hasn't slowed the company from lining up a new facility in Kitakami, Japan. Toshiba announced plans to invest ¥7 billion ($1.062 billion) in site preparation and initial construction for Fab 7. The news follows other announcements this year to increase memory manufacturing at its Yokkaichi facility.
Western Digital plans to enter into an agreement with Toshiba to work together in the new Kitakami facility. Toshiba and Western Digital's joint venture will push forward (as it should) to take on rivals Samsung, Intel Micron Flash Technologies, and Sk Hynix.
This has been a record year for new NAND memory investment. We've seen all of the NAND manufacturers start, complete, or announce new facilities in 2017. The flash shortage certainly helped to pump up profits in 2017 and it looks like the companies will put that money to good use.
The current state of the market is 64-layer memory, but that will soon be a passing as companies prepare for the next chapter that will scale to 96-layers and beyond. We're already starting to see the shortage subside and retail product pricing decline. New innovative products are coming to market using higher bit per die NAND, like the Toshiba XG5 and Crucial MX500.
The new facilities will enable companies to bring new technologies to market even faster. Instead of retrofitting fabs that are up and running, the new production (and time to ramp up) can take place in a new location. This will bring 4-bit per cell (QLC) NAND to market even faster. We even expect to see working prototype at CES with QLC memory at CES 2018.
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