Micron Technology CEO Mark Durcan spoke to AmCham Taipei guests on March 10 at a special Global Executive Insights luncheon, offering a wealth of knowledge about future trends in the global computer memory industry and a clear summary of why Taiwan plays such a large role in the sector. Durcan’s full presentation is available below.
Durcan stressed three major trends in the memory segment of the semiconductor industry:
1. Supplier consolidation:
Major semiconductor manufacturers continue to consolidate through mergers and acquisitions.
2. Diversification of end markets
During the dotcom boom and bust over 70% of memory was dedicated to PC applications. Today only 25% goes to PCs, while demand for memory in mobile devices and server/cloud applications soars. Significant growth for memory demand can also be seen in other advanced fields:
- Automotive: crash avoidance technology
- Medical: advanced diagnostics
- Graphics: augmented/virtual reality and gaming
3. Slowing supply growth
While demand growth for memory (measured in bits) continues to rise, the amount of new bits that can be produced each year by the industry through advances in existing technology is plateauing.
The result is a gradual shift away from supplying memory products to major OEMs, towards a diversified end market – and an increasing demand for more customized, innovative memory solutions for individual customers.
Due to the slowing technology-driven scaling of existing memory types (NAND and DRAM), Micron has begun to explore the development of new memory products, including:
3D NAND – a new configuration of existing NAND memory chips has tripled the capacity of existing NAND products, allowing 3.5TB to be stored in a space the size of a stick of gum while greatly reducing power consumption
3D Xpoint – An entirely new type of memory (the first in decades), Durcan claims that 3D Xpoint has the potential to dramatically transform computing architectures, boasting speeds and densities 1000x greater than those of NAND.
Micron, one of the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturers, produces 60% of it’s DRAM memory chips in Taiwan alone. Since 2008, Micron has invested US$8bn in Taiwan, with another $4bn pending the completion of their acquisition of Inotera. Durcan stressed repeatedly the importance of Taiwan to the success of Micron’s semiconductor business, highlighting several key factors that contribute to its optimal business environment:
- Advanced education programs produce a high quality talent pool, with experience in semiconductor technology and strong work ethic
- A Supportive and business-friendly government and regulatory environment.
- A strong, quality-focused technology manufacturing ecosystem that drives a cost-competitive environment, as well as a high-quality test and assembly infrastructure
- Proximity to large markets such as China, with engineers and other talent who speak the same language and live in the same time zone as customers from these markets
- Historically affordable energy costs
AmCham Taipei would like to thank Mark Durcan and Micron for their time and willingness to share their insight with the Taiwan business community at this AmCham Special Luncheon.