NAND: The Newest Threat To DRAM Manufacturers?

Brad Chacos

Like Jennifer's Lopez's marriage, DRAM manufacturers are going through a bit of a rough patch. DRAM insiders were popping Cristal when the industry saw a 77 percent surge in revenues between 2009 and 2010, but thanks to a dramatic death-spiral in DRAM prices, those same executives could soon be snuggling up to Wall Street bankers and MD 20/20 in the gutter. Today, a report surfaced that indicates that things could get worse before they get better for DRAM manufacturers; some experts theorize that PC owners may shift away from DRAM into the open arms of NAND flash memory.

Market research group Objective Analysis examined a wide assortment of memory configurations and PC benchmarks, Computerworld reports , and they've concluded that adding a "dollar's worth of NAND flash improves PC performance more than adding a dollar's worth of DRAM." That's bad news for DRAM manufacturers, who are already considering cutting back production to artificially inflate prices . On the other hand, the cost of NAND memory continues to drop, and the industry expects to see a 79 percent increase in worldwide supply in 2011.

"An appropriate balance of NAND, DRAM, and an HDD yields superior performance per dollar to a simple DRAM/HDD system," Jim Handy, the author of Objective Analysis' report, told Computerworld. "A well-designed NAND/DRAM combination brings SSD-like performance to a system at little or no price increase over a standard system based on the conventional DRAM-plus-HDD platform."

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