Apple is alleged to have decided to quietly drop plans to use NAND flash storage provided by China’s Yangtze Memory Technologies Corp (YMTC) in future iPhones.Taiwan report Digi Times Apple claims it’s looking at Samsung, not the YMTC. This is because his NAND suppliers in China were officially blacklisted by the US in his December, which is expected to result in a new wave of tech sanctions.
Reports from industry sources (that is, give the news a little credit) indicate that Apple intended to limit the use of YMTC flash storage chips to iPhones sold to the Chinese market. This means that about 10% of iPhones use his YMTC NAND, while the rest of the world mostly bought iPhones with Kioxia and SK hynix NAND. Additional supplies from the YMTC help Apple keep component prices low and provide a buffer against occasional industry issues (fires, earthquakes, floods, pandemics, etc.).
YMTC’s loss is Samsung’s gain, an insider told DigiTimes. The South Korean electronics giant, already a major supplier of DRAM for the iPhone, will start supplying 128-176 layer NAND to Apple next year through its Xi’an (China) fab. By the way, Samsung Xian produces his 40% of Samsung’s total NAND shipments, and unlike Kioxia and SK hynix, Samsung hasn’t made any announcements about lowering flash storage capex. . Perhaps they were hoping Apple would change their minds.
We reported on the budding relationship between Apple and the YMTC back in September, but now the first frost of winter seems to have killed the buds. As an outsider, I don’t know how much Apple has saved by moving to Chinese NAND for its Chinese iPhones, but the market is very depressed in Q4 2022, and the latest major suppliers Micron is trying to raise prices by limiting production.
DigiTimes shares some more interesting YMTC news. First, barring imminent sanctions, YMTC was projected to capture 20% of the global NAND flash market. Second, the sanctions eat into her YMTC progress. It is currently producing 128-layer NAND flash in China, but its planned progress to 232-layer NAND is being seriously hampered by chip machine makers complying with sanctions.
With sanctions and related trade barriers in place, suppliers to Chinese companies and domestic chip companies are grappling with alternative ways to move forward. For example; we recently reported on the progress of node tuning in China. Nvidia is using a reconfigured A100 GPU of his, dubbed the A800, to sidestep performance sanctions on the chip.