Memory makers just can't seem to a get a grip on supply and production and have now put themselves in a position where there's less than one month's worth of DRAM inventory left, says Pei-Lin Pai, a spokesperson for Nanya Technology. As a result of the chip shortage, first-tier PC makers are having a tough time getting the memory parts they need to fulfill orders.
This tighter supply has driven prices up in recent months, but even so, Pai says the majority of its PC clients haven't dropped any orders. Nanya has already raised prices for April by 10 percent, a good tick above the industry's average of 4-6 percent growth. DRAM pricing isn't likely to change much more, Pai says, and already customers have begun placing orders for the third quarter.
In the grand scheme of things, this tight supply isn't likely to have a huge impact on PC shipments, says Joanne Chien, senior analyst at DigiTimes Research. At the same time, high and rising prices could present an issue, as PC makers will have to decide how much of that cost to pass on to consumers and how much they can afford to swallow in lost profits.
It's been a turbulent couple of years in the memory market, and just when it looks like things might be stabilizing, we catch wind of a DRAM shortage or some other bit of troubling news.
Stepping up as unlikely heroes, Asus and Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS) have teamed up to form a joint venture intent on making sure there's a steady stream of DRAM products without all the price fluctuations. Called Asint, this new company will mostly source DRAM chips from Elpida Memory, or so says Chinese-language newspaper Economic Daily News.
According to the paper, Asus will hold a 60 percent stake in the venture, leaving 40 percent to SiS, but neither one of these companies say those numbers are accurate. SiS, who made it clear that they're not the source of the report, said their stake is just 20 percent, while Asus issued a filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange saying it holds a 16.67 percent stake. These numbers obviously don't add up, so maybe they won't end up saving the memory market after all.
For the past couple of years, a team of HP scientists have sat tucked away in a laboratory with the sole goal of pushing memristor research. What exactly is a memristor? Put simply, it's an electrical resistor with memory properties, and according to HP, memristors could push the speed of flash-based media tenfold or higher.
"This is sort of the missing element of the processor puzzle. It takes its place alongside the resistor, capacitor and inductor [as the fourth basic circuit element in chip engineering]. And it could change the way we do IT," said Stan Williams, HP senior fellow and Director of quantum Science Research.
Williams made those comments during the Flash Memory Summit in August 2009, and now less than a year later, Williams said they have discovered that the memristor "has more capabilities than we previously thought." No longer do Williams and Co. think memristors will just apply to storage devices, but they say "the memristor can perform logic, enabling computation to one day be performed in chips where data is stored, rather than on a specialized central processing unit."
If they're right, this could end up extending Moore's Law even after it's no longer possible to shrink transistors, Williams said.
We can remember when G.Skill wasn't really in the discussion when it came to high end modules, but that hasn't been the case for some time now. Case in point: the memory maker just released a DDR3 kit rated at 2500MHz, which ranks as the fastest memory around.
"G.Skill is dedicated to continuously developing the best performance memory modules on the market, to satisfy the demands of extreme overclockers and gamers. We are proud of the continual milestones we are still setting in the memory industry, and we believe the collaboration with Asus brings the best technology synergy for furture product development," said Tony Chou, Senior R&D Manager at G.Skill.
The collaboration Chou refers to involves strict testing of their new Trident memory on Asus' P7P55D-E Deluxe and P7P55D-E EVO motherboards. G.Skill also said the dual-channel kit has been specifically designed for Intel's Core i7 860 and 870 processors.
Unfortunately, the memory maker also left out a few details, including latencies, pricing information, and availability.
Do you really need 16GB or 24GB of RAM? For most users, the answer is 'probably not.' But could you picture pairing Intel's Core i7 980X processor with a 24GB DDR3 kit? Sure you could, and Corsair is ready to oblige.
The Fremont, CA-based memory maker announced a pair of new Dominator kits this week, both of which border on the excessive. According to Corsair, the new 16GB and 24GB kits have also been "rigorously qualified and tested" on Intel's X58 (24GB) and P55 (16GB) platforms. But who are these really for?
"We continue to see increasing demands for high density solutions from programmers, scientists, videographers, and other data-intensive users," stated John Beekley, VP of Technical Marketing at Corsair. "These new 1600MHz modules will enable a new level of processing speed for handling these large data sets."
Both kits sport latencies of 9-9-9-24 and are available now. The 16GB kit runs $1,000, while the 24GB kit checks in at $1,450, and both include Corsair's Airflow fan.
Have you turned on your Xbox 360 console today? If so, you may have noticed that you're now able to save data to removable USB memory drives, just as Microsoft promised a couple of weeks ago.
In early May, you'll be able to snag Microsoft's own-branded memory sticks from outlets like Gamestop, but the question is whether you'd even want to in the first place. According to Gamestop's pre-order pricing, an 8GB memory stick will run you $40, while you can expect to pay $70 for a 16GB flash drive. The good news here is that you can use any USB flash drive, "so long as you're aware that the maximum amount of data moved or stored is 16GB on any one device," Kotaku reports.
Microsoft has been aggressively upping the storage ante for its Xbox 360 console of late. Two weeks ago, the Redmond outfit released a 250GB standalone hard drive with transfer kit after previously saying the company had no plans to do so. Could Blu-ray be next? Don't hold your breath.
Toshiba said it is investing heavily in chip-making equipment that will enable the world's No. 2 NAND flash memory maker to produce microchips built on a sub-25nm manufacturing process.
The shrink to below 25nm will pave the way for higher capacities on smaller slices of silicon that are cheaper to produce, so it's a win all around. Toshiba's current product is stuck at 32nm and 43nm, and the company will spend $160 million this year in order to build a test production line for the smaller chips.
According to Japanese newspaper Nikkei Business Daily, Toshiba will soon begin churning out NAND chips with circuitry widths in the upper 20 nanometer range in the second half of this year. NAND chips with circuitry widths in the lower 20 nanometer range could begin as early as 2012.
The ever-volatile DRAM market continues to battle its share of supply and demand issues, the latest of which could affect smartphones and other gadgets with embedded RAM. Citing un-named industry sources, DigiTimes says prices for 512Mbit DDR, which are used for multi-chip package (MCP) memory products found mainly in mobile handsets, have shot up over 40 percent the past month due to tight supply.
The average spot price for 512Mb (64Mbitx8) SDRAM has gone from $1.53 a month ago to over $2.20 currently, the sources said. But mobile handsets aren't the only sector being affected.
Demand for 64Mb and 32Mb DDR memory in DVD players, hard drives, consumer electronics, and even home appliances have started to exceed supply.
Part of the reason for the widespread supply and demand issues can be traced to Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC)'s withdrawal from the SDRAM foundry business. Prior to discontinuing the line earlier this year, SMIC used to allocate capacity of around 20,000 wafers for production of SDRAM chips.
We'd all love to deck out our rigs with high-capacity, high-performance SSDs, but for most, it just isn't practical. That doesn't mean the benefits of an SSD are lost on the mainstream market, and if you're willing to settle for a lower capacity drive, there are some compelling options finally starting to appear.
As a result, there's a rush among SSD makers to cater to entry-level and mainstream consumers, and Kingston thinks it has a leg up on the competition. Citing un-named industry sources, DigiTimes says Kingston has shipped about 30,000 low-priced SSDs, prompting other companies to release low-priced units of their own.
If you ask Kingston, its 30GB SSD is the better option over Intel's new 40GB X25-V, and if looking strictly at street pricing, they're right, even if just barely. Intel's 40GB X25-V streets for about $125, or about $3.12 per GB. Kingston's 30GB SSDNow V Series streets for $92, or about $3.07 per GB. Kingston's drive is also rated a little bit faster with up to 180MB/s read and 50MB/s write speeds, compared to 170MB/s and 35MB/s, respectively.
Of course, hard drives still trump SSDs in capacity and price per GB, which begs the question, is anyone interested in these so-called value oriented SSDs? Hit the jump and sound off!
Following a brief power outage at one of Samsung's production bases in Kiheung on Wednesday, there was some concern over what impact it would have on the company's production. Looking to put everyone's mind at ease, Samsung says the one hour blackout will not have a significant impact.
That's good news in what's already a tight DRAM market. The blackout hit Samsung's 12-inch Fab 13 and Fab 14 facilities, which are mainly responsible for DRAM and NAND flash production. Fab 13 churns out about 120,000 wafers every month, while Fab 14 pushes out about 130,000.
This isn't the first time a power outage has rocked Kiheung. In 2007, a serious blackout forced Samsung to temporarily shut down six of its production lines, most of which wreaked havoc on the company's NAND flash products.