Contamination forces NAND flash storage prices up

According to Western Digital Corp (WDC), this contamination will result in a shortage of at least 6.5 exabytes of flash storage.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

The double-barrel impact of a global pandemic and supply chain constraints have been putting pressure on tech firms, but storage company Western Digital Corp (WDC) is also reeling from another problem.


The company has discovered that certain materials have become contaminated at two of its flash storage manufacturing plants in Japan. These were being operated as part of a joint venture with Kioxia Holdings Corp.

While it is unclear as to what the contamination is, WDC is saying that this will have a dramatic impact on flash production and is predicting that there will be a shortage of at least 6.5 exabytes of flash storage.

To put that into context, one exabyte is a billion gigabytes.

WDC and Kioxia are working together to resolve the issue and bring production back to normal as quickly as possible.

But what effect will this have on pricing?

Analysts at TrendForce claim that "damaged bits account for 13 percent of the group's output in 1Q22 and approximately 3 percent of the total output for the year," and that this may cause the price of NAND flash to increase 5 - 10 percent during Q2.

But how much of an effect this will have on real-world pricing is up for debate.

WDC's storage manufacturing is focused heavily on SSDs and eMMC for PCs, and since demand is expected to be revised downwards for these in Q2, this would have usually driven prices down. This production hit is likely to mean that prices remain somewhat stable.

WDC and Kioxia were holding merger talks last year, but those seem to have since hit a standstill.

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