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SanDisk eyes year-end production halt

Company is evaluating production stoppage over the holidays at its manufacturing facilities in Japan.

SanDisk is evaluating a production halt over the holidays at its manufacturing facilities in Japan, reflecting an overall slowdown in the flash memory chip industry.

SanDisk solid-state drives that use NAND flash memory
SanDisk solid-state drives that use NAND flash memory SanDisk

"The joint venture is evaluating plans for operations over the holiday season, including a possible stoppage of some production lines," a SanDisk spokesman said Friday. "We constantly consider manufacturing schedules in light of market requirements and this is particularly true during the holiday season," he added.

Milpitas, Calif.-based SanDisk and Toshiba have joint production lines for NAND flash chip manufacturing in Japan.

This follows a Bloomberg report that said Toshiba is considering a "partial stoppage" of flash memory production in Japan over the holidays.

Though the Japanese company is being cagey about how it couches the stoppage, these production halts appear longer and broader than typical holiday slowdowns.

Toshiba and SanDisk have a 36 percent share of the global NAND flash market, according to a JPMorgan report cited by Bloomberg. Samsung is the market leader with 43 percent.

A recent report from iSuppli said that this year "is the first time in the history of the NAND flash market that revenue will decline on an annual basis."

Micron Technology, which has a joint NAND flash production venture with Intel, said in October that it was stopping production at its Boise, Idaho, facility and cutting its workforce.

Prices of the benchmark NAND flash memory chip have plummeted 70 percent this year, according to DRAMexchange, cited by Bloomberg.

In related news, other Japanese chipmakers including Renesas Technology, NEC, and Fujitsu may extend the time they halt holiday production too, according to Bloomberg.