On Friday, Western Digital disclosed that a factory operated by Toshiba Memory Corporation as part of the two companies’ joint production operations in Japan’s Yokkachi region had been affected by a power outage on June 15. According to to the storage manufacturer, the outage not only affected the facilities and tools used to make its flash storage, but six exabytes of Western Digital NAND that was in production was lost.
According to Reuters, the plant has been running at less-than-full capacity since the outage occurred, and won’t be able to resume full production until the middle of July. Western Digital says that this will affect the company’s bottom line during the first fiscal quarter, which runs July through September. Western DIgital had just finalized plans to invest in Toshiba’s “K1” factory that’s currently under construction in the Kitikami region of Japan in May. Construction on that facility won’t complete until fall, and WD expects that it will begin producing 96-layer 3D NAND chips in early 2020.
Between the in-production NAND that was lost and as a result of the diminished capacity, global supplies of flash memory could be reduced as much as 25% between August and October, according to a report from Blocks and Files. The six exabyte figure published by WD is just for that company’s production. The total damage to the global supply chain could be far greater. Wells Fargo analyst Aaron Raker told Blocks and Files that he believes around 60% of the factory’s production to be for Toshiba, dealing that company a nine exabyte loss, too.
The last time a big ol’ chunk of NAND was lost due to a power outage, Samsung lost around 3.5% of the world’s flash memory production for the year back in March of 2018. My back-of-the-napkin math suggests that this would be around twice that percentage in Toshiba and Western Digital’s case. As a result of the loss, TrendForce expects 2D NAND prices to rise and 3D NAND prices to start leveling off. If you’ve been eyeing a shiny new SSD and haven’t already jumped on it, there might be no time like the present.