In a rather surprising move, Kioxia this week announced plans to expand its Kitakami production site with a new production facility called K2. This is the second fab announcement from Kioxia in less than two months, indicating the company is confident of the growing demand for 3D NAND memory in the coming years. If Kioxia’s expansion plans proceed as scheduled, two new fabs will go online sometime in 2023~2024.
Kioxia and its partner Western Digital are ramping up 96-layer BiCS 3D NAND memory production at their K1 fab near Kitakami, Iwate Prefecture, Japan. Fab K1 is the largest jointly operated manufacturing facility by size in the world (according to the companies), and its cleanroom is being built over four similarly-sized phases. The companies initiated commercial production of 3D NAND at K1 Phase 1 earlier this year, and volumes are expected to have increased in the interim. Meanwhile, K1 will add three more cleanroom phases over time.
As it turns out, Kioxia wants to produce 3D NAND and will therefore start to prepare a 136,000 square meter area adjacent to the current site for its Fab K2. The prep work will start in the spring of 2021 and is expected to be completed by the spring of 2022. If Kioxia decides to start constructing the shell in early 2022, then the building will be completed by early 2023 and ready for equipment move-in. Typically, it takes 1 – 1.5 years to equip a cleanroom and start commercial production, so K2 may start operations in 2024 if Kioxia follows its typical fab building schedule.
It should be noted that Kioxia has yet to announce exact schedules for its K2 facility. The Japanese company will also have to negotiate terms of joint investments in the new facility with its partner Western Digital.
Kioxia’s and Western Digital’s Fab K1 covers about 150,000 square meters, including various supporting and administrative buildings and the production facility itself. Fab K2 will cover a smaller area, but since it will not need its own administrative building, the production facility will likely be similar to K1.
In the third quarter of 2020, Kioxia and Western Digital controlled 35.2% of 3D NAND flash supplies and were slightly ahead of Samsung, which had a 33.1% revenue share, according to TrendForce.