If you’ve been thinking about getting a higher capacity SSD for your computer, an SSD for your console, or buying a few USB sticks, you would be wise to do it right now. As in, as soon as you finish reading this article, drop what you’re doing and purchase some NAND memory, because it’s about to get more expensive, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
As you might recall, last week it was announced that almost seven million terabytes of memory were destroyed by contamination at two factories run by Western Digital (WDC) and its partner Kioxia. At the time, it was assumed that the loss of that much flash memory would cause disruptions in the global NAND markets, possibly triggering a global rise in prices. Now that has been confirmed, with WDC sending a letter to its partners advising them “costs have increased significantly in the short term” and that the company was going to “immediately increase the price of all Flash products,” according to Tom’s Hardware.
The accident resulted in the loss of an enormous amount of NAND flash memory — enough to cause a global shortage given the numbers involved. At the time of the accident it was reported that WDC was responsible for 6.5 exabytes of memory loss, but it was unknown how much its partner Kioxia had lost. Together the two companies produce about 35 percent of all NAND flash globally. Analysts surmised that once the entire amount of NAND lost was all tallied up, it would probably be more like 14 exabytes of NAND flash. It also takes approximately two to three months to actually make a fully functional NAND chip, so any type of delay such as this can have ripple effects into the future.
When the accident happened, industry analyst Trendforce predicted a price increase would ensue, assuming prices would go up between 5 to 10 percent. WDC has now confirmed that is happening, but a new development is that Digitimes is reporting that other flash vendors will also raise their prices as well alongside WDC. Though no reason is given for why they are also raising their prices, it is safe to assume it’s simply a situation of less supply and high demand would lead to an increase in price, at least in the short term. However, inflation and supply chain difficulties have also increased prices globally on most if not all semiconductor-related products. Amazingly, up until now, the flash storage market has mostly been unaffected by all the issues in adjacent verticals. Prices are near or at all-time lows, so as we said in the intro, if you’ve been putting off buying a new SSD or any type of flash storage, it’s time to pull the trigger.