Kioxia on Friday said that it would cut down production of 3D NAND memory at its fabs located at its Yokkaichi and Kitakami sites. As demand for PCs and many other devices is slowing due to high inflation rates, geopolitical tensions, and macroeconomic factors, producers of commodities like 3D NAND want to reduce inventories and avoid oversupply and have to cut down production.
Kioxia said that it would reduce its wafer start production volume by approximately 30%, starting from tomorrow. A 30% reduction of wafer starts does not automatically mean a 30% reduction of 3D NAND bit output as depending on exact process technologies used to process wafers, the effect on bit output can be quite different. Kioxia did not say for how long it plans to cut its 3D NAND wafer production.
Kioxia operates its fabs and shares their output together with Western Digital and while the American company has not issued any similar statements as of 10AM ET (September 30, 2022), we would expect it to follow suit.
Micron late on Thursday said it would slowdown production ramp of its latest 232-layer 3D NAND memory devices to reduce costs associated with the ramp and avoid 3D NAND bits oversupply on the market, which will inevitably affect prices of flash memory and storage devices like solid state drives (SSDs), including the best SSDs aimed at enthusiasts.
In fact, earlier this week analysts from TrendForce said that price of 3D TLC NAND and 3D QLC NAND wafers dropped by 30% ~ 35% in the third quarter compared to the second quarter and would decline by another 20% ~ 25% in the Q4 compared to Q3 because of slowing demand for new PCs, servers, and consumer electronics.
Given such drastic 3D NAND price reductions, it is not surprising that Kioxia is cutting down its output to reduce its inventory levels and avoid oversupply on the market, which leads to further price deterioration. It is unclear how other makers of 3D NAND will react, but in the end they have two options: keep production of flash memory at the current levels and grab market share from Kioxia by offering lower prices and potentially lose money, or reduce the output to keep supply and demand in balance to at least fix prices at current levels.