Apple’s domination of NAND flash is so complete that even when the industry figures out a way to greatly improve their efficiency, they’ve got to sit around and wait for Cupertino to approve it.
Samsung and Toshiba have both developed NAND flash memory with manufacturing processes below 30nm, but are awaiting Apple’s approval as their biggest customer before they move forward. Mass production of these chips would not be feasible without the likes of Apple on board.
Sources for DigiTimes revealed:
Both Samsung Electronics’ and Toshiba’s 2Xnm-made products have not yet been certified by their biggest customer Apple.
Micron Technology and Intel were ahead of peers in volume producing chips using their jointly-developed 25nm technology in the first half of 2011, followed by Samsung’s ramp-up of 27nm, Toshiba’s 24nm and Hynix Semiconductor’s 26nm. This marked the beginning of a race among major NAND chip suppliers to transition to 20nm-class processes
The hold up for Apple’s approval is purportedly due to longer certification times owing to new industry standards that have more stringent requirements for performance, quality and reliability. While customers like Apple could previously validate NAND flash in three to six months, the process can now take up to nine months.
With the iPhone, iPod, iPad and the latest MacBook Air selling like hot cakes all over the globe, Apple is one of the world’s largest consumers of NAND flash, and the huge demand for these products has previously caused shortages for other companies.
While flash memory below 30nm means higher memory density – leading to faster devices with more capacity – and are great news for the consumer, we won’t see them in our products anytime soon without Apple’s thumbs up.