Behind the scenes of the SSD revolutionary business opportunities: Hui Rong

Date: 2018-03-23

Hui Rong Technology, General Manager Jia Jiazhang: behind the scenes of SSD's revolutionary business opportunities

In the past year, the semiconductor industry's hottest topic, the word “storage” was absolutely unacceptable. The DRAM was out of stock, the advent of 3D NAND era, Taiwan and the United States and South Korea’s super giants robbed the Toshiba drama, and the mainland’s self-built memory technology ignited a cross-border judicial war. The bright guns and swords meet each other in order to grab memory chips, the key components of all electronic industries and even state secrets.

Behind the NAND Flash chip, one of the two main memories, there is a character whose core is very important. However, the key technology often overlooked by the outside world is the NAND Flash control chip. Its output value may only account for 5 to 10% of an SSD, but without it, NAND Flash chips are also useless for heroes. Some of these crucial technologies are carefully protected by the upstream NAND Flash manufacturers. However, there are still few independent NAND Flash control chip companies that silently promote the entire NAND Flash industry. Going forward, one of them is the SMI, which is listed on Nasdaq in the United States.

SMI's long-term commitment to the advancement of NAND Flash control chip technology is the driving force behind the ever-rising flash memory industry, with a flash memory card market share of approximately 25%, flash disk 20%, and embedded eMMC/eMCP. About 30% and 30% of independent consumer SSDs, the next step is to fully rush into the enterprise SSD market.

In order to better understand the needs of the enterprise-class SSD customers and the technical trends and specifications of the products, SMI also launched several NAND Flash-based spin-off investments, including the acquisition of a new supplier of mainland enterprise SSDs. Technology, and Biggesta with software-defined storage technology. DIGITIMES specifically interviewed SMI general manager Miao Jiazhang and chatted about the NAND Flash industry prospects. The following is an excerpt of the interview.

Q: The mainland has actively established a supply chain for the storage industry. The NAND Flash control chip will naturally not be absent. Facing the huge business opportunities and potential challenges ahead, what is the company's strategic plan?

A: SMI began to lay out the mainland market 15 years ago. We defined it as a supplier of NAND Flash control chips. We grow together with customers and partners in the mainland. We have a plan and a vision for the huge mainland market. Comprehensive planning.

In the field of industrial specification storage, we also entered the automotive industry in mainland China. After we acquired Baocun Technology, we started to enter the enterprise SSD industry in the mainland. Through the treasure deposit platform, we understand the needs of the market, know the core of the problem, how to solve the problem, further realize the layout solution market, understand the needs of customers, and understand the characteristics of the enterprise-class SSD market. Step by step, every breakthrough in SMI is based on a solid foundation.

Q: Buying Baocun's layout seems to be an important turning point for the company's development. Can you talk more about this company?

A: Since its acquisition, Baocun has surpassed expectations. Baocun is an enterprise-level SSD supplier. When we first met, their company was established for half a year. At the beginning, the two parties did not have business contacts, but they kept liaising. In the third year, they felt that the conditions were quite mature in all aspects. Storing needs a partner who understands NAND Flash technology, and SMI is also optimistic about the customers who can use Baocun to open the door of the enterprise market in mainland China. The two sides' concept is to hit it off.

SMI is a supplier of NAND Flash control chips. However, in the strategy of the enterprise-class SSD market, we will rethink the business model. We decided to step into the system and realize that it would be difficult for the pure control chip to survive in this area. SMI has cultivated a very valuable R&D team in the past 15 years. Existing product lines such as consumer SSDs, embedded mobile phone eMMCs, flash memory cards, and flash drives are enough to serve as the basic plate for company life. Therefore, we have It is decided that in the field of offensive enterprise SSDs, new business model thinking is needed.

In addition, the founders of Baocun are mostly from the United States such as Marvell, NVIDIA, etc., and SMI is in a very good fit in the corporate culture, goals, and technology. At that time, Bao Cun had its own customers and technology. It used FPGA as the control chip. The disadvantage was that it was costly. So SMI provided know-how for the ASIC.

Question: Last year, the mainland's "chip gate" incident also involved the SMI. After this incident, what is new about this market?

A: The mainland welcomes foreign businessmen, but does not want to see foreigners just go to make money. There is nothing left. It seems that they run away after grabbing the money. Therefore, there will be some protection policies. They hope that when foreign companies make money on the mainland, they must also The industry contributes and supports the development of the industry and balances each other.

In the past, certain mainland companies may have been wary of SMI, but they have known that SMI has been supporting many memory module factories since entering the mainland market for 15 years. The earliest cooperation was with Jiang Bolong of Shenzhen. The three companies of SMI, Samsung, and Jiang Bolong had a strategic cooperation for a long time.

When SMI entered the mainland market, it took a lot of time to select customers and conduct close technical exchanges with each other, including the establishment of Jin Taike, Daisong, Rainbow, Taipower, BIWIN, etc. Now, the market share of these module factories in the SSD field It has been very high and has become a new force in mainland China's memory module factory. We don't just go to the mainland to make money and run, and it contributes to the development of the entire mainland industrial chain.

Nowadays, the global memory industry is mostly in the hands of the United States, Japan, and South Korea. The mainland is struggling to develop its storage technology rather than trying to replace any one camp. It just wants to reach a balance. With the annual consumption of memory chips in the mainland, including the future development of big data, artificial intelligence, robots, etc., they all need memory chips. They cannot rely on imports forever. This is not a reciprocal relationship. Only they have mastered the technology. Self-sufficient production and manufacturing can achieve a balanced relationship.

The mainland is also gradually realizing that the threshold of NAND Flash control chip technology is high, and not only technology, but also the relationship between the upstream contacts and the industrial chain. All of these require time to accumulate, and cannot be used in one go, nor are investments made to produce instant results. effect.

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