The semiconductor industry analysts at TrendForce have highlighted a likely seismic shock on the way to the NAND Flash market — the firm’s investigations indicate that manufacturer inventories are reaching a “breaking point” because the usual “peak season” demand surge failed to materialize this year. Thus, TrendForce has revised its already-gloomy predictions of a 15-20% decline in flash pricing down to 30-35%. These estimates are all the more jarring as they are expected to occur in a single quarter, the current Q3 2022. Moreover, with NAND flash ICs being a key cost component of SSDs, we should expect price cuts to seep through to consumer SATA and NVMe SSD models.
The expected price collapse is a pretty good example of the boom and bust cycle we see in the semiconductor space. As TrendForce notes, manufacturers saw rapid flash consumption growth from consumers and enterprises building server systems during the pandemic. This led manufacturers to expand aggressively while they increased bit capacity output with 128+ layer technologies.
All the gung-ho optimism and investment now looks set to go nowhere (for a while) as demand for NAND-consuming devices like smartphones and laptops has fallen considerably. Part of the reason behind the drop will be the post-pandemic mood, but we are also dealing with a war in Europe, double-digit inflation, and energy price hikes making people more careful with their disposable income. Some will even have seen disposable income vanish as prices of basic necessities eat into budgets.
TrendForce also foresees some level of market consolidation due to the NAND Flash pricing situation. In other words, it reckons some flash makers will buy up others during the downturn.
A Further 20% Price Slide in Q4 2022?
Moving into Q4 2022, TrendForce expects manufacturers to strive to maintain market share at all costs, exacerbating oversupply and the need to make irresistible deals with NAND Flash consumers. It doesn’t say when it sees this rapid downward trend bottoming out, but that flash pricing will likely continue the downward pricing trend into next year.
In brief, things look good if you are in the market for a replacement or expansion SSD. Prices should drop for those with patience, and not much patience should be needed to get more for your money. Checking out various price history websites, we see that a downward SSD pricing trend has been well established for several months (see above Samsung example). According to the industry report, pricing is only going one way for the next half year or so.
While you save your pennies, it is probably worth a look at our frequently updated Best SSDs 2022 guide so you will have a good idea about the best price/performers in the SATA and NVMe segments in the market right now.