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SMIC increases output for NOR flash, while XMC cuts production

Josephine Lien, Taipei; Jessie Shen, DIGITIMES, Wednesday 12 July 2017

Semiconductor Manufacturing International (SMIC) has landed more orders for NOR flash chips from GigaDevice Semiconductor and increased output, according to industry sources. On the other hand, Wuhan Xinxin Semiconductor Manufacturing (XMC) has to cut its production of NOR chips due to fewer wafers supplied by Sumco.

More output at SMIC and XMC's production cut have led to supply-side variability, the sources identified. Nevertheless, if end-market demand remains brisk, the supply of NOR flash will continue to fall short of demand, the sources said.

NOR flash demand has been robust with the outlook promising, as the memory is being adopted in AMOLED panels for smartphones, TDDI (touch with display driver integration) chips, industrial control and car electronics applications. The NOR flash market is forecast to rise at a CAGR of 15-16% from 2017 to 2020, when the market will reach US$4.7 billion, the sources cited unspecified research firms as saying.

On the supply side, Micron Technology and Cypress have phased out of the low- and mid-capacity NOR flash segment, while putting increased focus on high-margin products. Macronix International and Winbond Electronics are being identified as the major beneficiaries of the two vendors' exit, the sources indicated.

Nevertheless, China-based foundries' output for NOR flash memory has brought more variables to the market, the sources said.

GigaDevice has ramped up wafer starts at SMIC to over 10,000 units from several thousand units per month, the sources noted. Part of GigaDevice's additional orders placed with SMIC could have been transferred from XMC, which is experiencing a cutback in wafer shipments from Sumco, the sources said.

XMC has reduced its output for NOR flash products, as a result of lower wafer supply, the sources indicated. Sumco has reportedly given priority to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), Intel and Micron Technology, while cutting its wafer shipments to XMC.

Meanwhile, Powerchip Technology disclosed recently the company will restart its NOR flash production line amid tight supply of the memory. Powerchip will provide foundry services for NOR flash chips mainly at its Taiwan site.


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