In April, the EE Times examined whether Samsung could be about to control the equipment output of Apple by putting the Cupertino company on a rationed supply of NAND flash as the non-volatile memory goes into short supply in 2013. The analysis argues that Apple may need to put down billions of dollars of cash to fund a guaranteed NAND flash supply plan, something that Samsung did in the middle of the last decade." But news out of Japan today shows that one of Apple's suppliers are building a new NAND Flash memory factory to handle 2D and 3D variants.This could be music to Apple's ears.
A new Nikkei Business Publication report today covered Toshiba's press release announcing the construction of a new clean room for "Fab 5 phase 2" at Hokkaichi Operations in Mie, Japan by the end of the summer. This matters because Toshiba is one of Apple's approved suppliers (PDF). Operations are to begin at the end of 2013 or early 2014.
Toshiba stated that the aim of the construction is to "secure manufacturing space for NAND flash memories fabricated with next generation process technology and for future 3D memories."
Toshiba mentioned two reasons why it decided to start the construction for the phase 2. First, there is an increasing demand for SSDs used in smartphones, tablet computers, corporate servers, etc. Second, the market is expected to grow in the middle and long term.
Toshiba stated that to respond to the increasing demand, they'll strengthen their business competitiveness not only by securing manufacturing space for 3D memories but also by continuing to develop and apply the most advanced process technologies.
SanDisk Corp, which runs Yokkaichi Operations together with Toshiba, also published a news release on the same day which stated that the products that will be manufactured in the phase 2 will be the next-generation 2D NAND memories and early generations of 3D NAND memories.
By Samsung putting Apple on a rationed supply of NAND flash for 2013, it appears that one of Apple's official suppliers is ready to step up to the plate and fill that gap for Apple while providing them with a future supply of 3D NAND Flash which is coming to market sometime in 2014 or 2015.