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BW Businessworld

More Capacity, Lower Prices

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Sanjay Mehrotra, CEO of flash memory manufacturer SanDisk, talks about trends in flash memory space in a chat with BW’s Swati Garg.

Flash memory prices have fallen dramatically. Will the trend continue?
The price of flash memory on a per gigabyte basis has come down by 50,000 per cent over the past 20 years. It is the rapid pace of technological evolution that has led to a decline in the cost of production. This has unleashed mega markets as well. One of our focus areas is to scale existing flash memory technology and also ensure that when this technology is unable to scale any further, because of the laws of physics, then we have other technologies that can help develop memory chips that will continue the trend of lower prices and more capacity.
So how does this impact your R&D strategy in terms of areas of focus?
We have a three-pronged R&D strategy now: first, to scale Natflash memory as far as we can. Second, to focus on 3D memory. And third, in the 2020 time frame, we want to develop a technology that will take you to the terabit frame — 8-fold or higher in memory chip capacity vis-a-vis current capacities. 

Can you please elaborate on 3D memory?
Today’s memory, on the layer of wafer, is one layer of memory cell; 3D memory means placing multiple layers on a given piece of silicon. This gives one the ability to produce more depth on a given piece of wafer enabling you to produce high capacity chips while lowering the cost of production. 
What have been your key growth drivers?
The key drivers of growth for SanDisk are in the mobile space, in client computing, app devices, ultra thin notebooks and enterprise in flash storage. The two big growth factors are mobile and computing. The traditional markets for growth are flash memory cards for imaging.  
While we have continued with our focus on the retail side, we have also focused on diversifying our business on the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) side. Here, we are a supplier to all handset and tablet manufacturers with our flash products that may either be embedded inside these products or in flash memory cards that may be bundled along.  
Where do you think the growth in margins will come from?
We want to focus on products with a higher margin. Products such as flash memory storage going into enterprise application tend to provide higher margins. We expect a healthier demand supply mix because demand continues to grow. 

Twitter: (at)swatigarg
(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 17-06-2013)