Rising demand for smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices has already hurt the traditional flash memory card and drive business, and suppliers of the device controllers have been affected negatively, the observers indicated. Instead, solid-state drives (SSD) and eMMC devices are identified as tomorrow’s promising areas.
Taiwan-based firms used to grab an 80-90% share of the stand-alone NAND flash device controller market, and their strength in the flash card and drive market segment also helped them attract investment from international vendors such as Intel, Samsung Electronics and Toshiba, the observers said. However, this situation has reversed in recent years.
Phison Electronics and Silicon Motion Technology, the two major players in Taiwan’s NAND flash controller industry, have both put increased focus on solutions targeted at SSDs and industrial applications. Flash memory cards and drives are no longer their primary target market.
In addition, ASMedia Technology plans to stop offering controller solutions for USB 3.0 flash drives despite a market consensus that the transition to USB 3.0 is expected to spur growth for NAND flash drives.
Meanwhile, sources at Integrated Technology Express (ITE) have revealed that the firm is looking to spin off its NAND flash controller business into a separate entity, while Skymedi reportedly is shifting its focus to touchscreen controller ICs. Solid State System (3S) has made its foray into the market for MEMS microphones and has gradually turned its focus away from the NAND flash controller segment.