Why Flash Storage Will Remain Dominant for Several Years

Intel/Micron's 3D XPoint Memory, with significant gigabyte shipments in 2020-2021, and with an assumed significant price advantage versus DRAM, is expected to reach $3.0 billion in revenues by 2028, the report says.

Flash.module

Despite the continued emergence of new types of storage media, flash memory will remain a dominant solid-state memory for at least the next several years, a new data storage market report has concluded.

Other conclusions:

  • Intel/Micron’s 3D X-Point technology (layered flash memory) is poised to impact DRAM (dynamic random-access memory) production, while STT MRAM (spin-transfer torque magnetic random-access memory ) will impact SRAM (static random-access memory), NOR and some DRAM.
  • Resistive RAM (ReRAM) is in line to be a potential replacement for flash memory sometime in the next decade. 
  • The rate of development and projected manufacturing ramp for emerging memory will result in lower prices, and the attractiveness of replacing volatile memory with non-volatile memory make these technologies very competitive.

These are all findings from "Emerging Memories Poised to Explode: An Emerging Memory Report," a study conducted by Coughlin Associates and Objective Analysis and released July 25. This comes just ahead of the annual Flash Memory Summit, set for the Santa Clara Convention Center Aug. 6 through 9.

“Moving to a non-volatile main memory and cache memory reduces power usage directly as well as enable new power saving modes, provide faster recovery from power off and enable stable computer architectures that retain their state even when power is turned off,” Tom Coughlin, author of the report, said.

“We project that 3D XPoint Memory, with significant gigabyte shipments in 2020-2021, and with an assumed significant price advantage versus DRAM, will reach $3.0 billion in revenues by 2028.”

MRAM and STT-RAM baseline revenues are expected to increase from about $36 million in 2017 to $3.3 billion by 2028, Coughlin said. Much of this revenue gain will be at the expense of SRAM, NOR flash and some DRAM, although STT-RAM is developing its own special place in the pantheon of shipping memory technologies

The demand for MRAM and STT-MRAM will drive demand for capital equipment to manufacture these devices. While MRAM and STT-MRAM can be built on standard CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) circuits supplied by large semiconductor fabricators, MRAM and STT MRAM do require specialized fabrication equipment for the MRAM layers that is similar to or the same as that used in manufacturing the magnetic read sensors in hard disk drives.

The increasing demand for nonvolatile memory based upon MRAM and STT MRAM will cause total manufacturing equipment revenue used for making the MRAM devices to rise from an estimated $29 million in 2017 to between $517 million to $792 million by 2028, with a baseline projected spending of $641 million, Coughlin said.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...