Bye bye discs?

One of the earliest Nintendo NX rumours was that the system would abandon optical discs for game storage and may even move towards a totally download-based delivery mechanism. However, fresh speculation - promoted by comments made by Macronix, the company which traditionally supplies Nintendo with its ROM chips - suggests that the firm could opt to use cartridges or game cards for NX, like it does with the 3DS.

Japanese Financial website Money-Link is the source of the rumour, and has indicated that Macronix is expecting a bumper period of growth around the same time that Nintendo launches the NX:

Macronix's ROM chips are usually supplied to videogame console maker, Nintendo. Although the sales is in off season during the first quarter, the revenue is similar compared with the same period last year. Wu Miin suggested that as Nintendo had just announced it will release a new generation console in March next year, and the console will be launched at the same time in Japan, America and Europe, so ROM's sales is expected to increase in the latter half of this year, and it will have a large growth potential.

Any shift or change in Macronix's bottom line would traditionally be attributed to the Nintendo 3DS, but the company recently began testing on a newer line of 32nm ROM chips. The Nintendo 3DS uses 75nm (max 8GB storage) so it's fair to assume that these new cards won't be for the existing handheld - while it's little more than speculation, some are assuming that the newer cards are intended for NX.

Macronix chairman Wu Miin has added fuel to the fire with his comments:

Yesterday, non-volatile memory vendor Macronix (2337) announced that net loss per share of 0.25 yuan in the first quarter. Wu Miin, chairman of Macronix, stated that "the worst situation has passed". He expects that the company can potentially get rid of loss in the third quarter as the orders of an important customer, Nintendo, will have critical impact. The company targets a profit-loss balance annually.

In the past, Macronix sales performance usually peaked at third quarter, while declined at the fourth quarter. However, Wu Miin pointed out that because Nintendo has announced that the new platform will be launched in March next year, orders should be placed in advance. Therefore, the operating revenue of Macronix in the fourth quarter may be as good as the third quarter.

Wu Miin noted that before the launch of Nintendo's new platform, the sales of ROM is expected to remain unchanged in this year, but there is growth potential. In respect of NOR Flash business, market share in the global market has reached 21% last year, ranked second. It is expected to climb to first rank in a quarter next year. Macronix expects the sales of 75 nm, or below, NOR Flash process products will increase to 50% and more high-capacity products will be sold. Revenue of automobile sector will continue to increase.

Given that we still don't know what form - or forms - NX will take, it's interesting to note that Nintendo could potentially shift back towards ROM-based media. It's not a move that is totally without precedent; falling prices and improved storage capacity allowed Sony to shift from optical media on the PSP to small flash cards on the PS Vita. Also, if the rumours regarding a portable element of NX are true, it would make more sense for games to be supplied on cards as discs would be impractical on a mobile device. There's also the fact that the removal of an optical drive would reduce the manufacturing cost of each NX console - and Nintendo has been keen to point out that NX will not be sold at a loss.