Back in the 1980s, Toshiba, one of front-runners among Japan's semiconductor companies, dominated the global market together with NEC and Hitachi.
Although it washed its hands from DRAM chips in 2001 due to challenge posed by Korean chip makers, Toshiba still has industry-leading technologies in NAND flash chips.
In contrast, SK Hynix has a weakness in the NAND area. This is why the share of NANDs in its memory chip business remained low at 25 percent last year, far lower than Samsung Electronics' 40 percent.
Toshiba is set to launch 64-stack 3D NAND mass-production sooner or later. SK Hynix recently announced that it developed a 72-stack NAND but it would take time to start mass-production. The Toshiba-Hynix partnership could bring a major shakeup to the global NAND market which is dominated by Samsung Electronics.
Including the share of Western Digital, Toshiba has a 34.7-percent share in the global NAND market, a level similar to Samsung's 35.2 percent. If SK Hynix' 10.1-percent share is added, the Toshiba-Western Digital-SK Hynix alliance would have the world's largest share of 44.7 percent.