Both Western Digital and Kioxia, two of the largest providers of solid-state storage in the industry, are both reporting that materials used for creating the flash memory storage were contaminated at their plants in Yokkaichi and Kitakami, Japan.

More than 6.5 million exabytes (6.5 million terabytes) have been affected, but experts say the total number from both factories could reach more than 16 exabytes lost. That amounts to approximately 10% of the total amount of flash memory created every quarter.

If you’re a filmmaker or creative who depends on a mobile device or flash-based storage, this proverbial wrench could have long-term effects on your workflow. Especially if you use gear that requires high-speed cards for 8K, RAW, or high frame rate recording.  

The Silver Lining

One possible way that the industry can mitigate another shortage is if other companies like Samsung and Micron can boost production to make up for the expected shortfall. Flash memory is ubiquitous in the industry and is largely the same design from manufacturers. Therefore, electronics manufacturers can pivot from one supplier to another.

Kioxia will be able to fulfill current orders with existing inventory, but warn that shipments will be curtailed in the “near term.” 

The good news, though, is that the report from Kioxia says that the contamination is limited to 3D flash modules used in solid-state devices and most likely won’t affect supplies of more conventional 2D NAND flash memory found in portable memory such as compact flash and SD cards.

SD Card CollectionCredit: Samsung Memory

However, as we said before, some cameras require faster storage media for their high-quality recording formats. 3D flash modules are more than capable of meeting this demand. With this new shortage, things could get worse before they get better. 

The news of such an issue will likely trigger more buying to shore up availability, also leading to higher prices on top of what end users are being forced to pay out due to the existing shortage and inflation.

We’re not economists, but if output can’t match the higher demand, prices tend to go up.

“Flash memory prices will rise for sure,” Ace Research Institute analyst Hideki Yasuda told Bloomberg, “further adding fuel to the recent component price hike trend stemming from supply shortages.” 

Users should be prepared to pay even more for their flash memory for the foreseeable future. Creatives affected by these issues could resort to shooting at reduced resolution or quality—or they could shoot on film if they’re feeling extra inspired. `

Check out weekly specials, deals, and rebates: Pro Video GearPro Audio GearLighting