A new year means a fresh start, and a fresh start entails putting 2011's skyrocketing HDD prices behind us, right? Not quite. Seagate released its quarterly financial results yesterday, and although the report left investors cheering -- Seagate pocketed $3.2 billion in revenue despite last year's catastrophic floods -- things are looking a bit bleaker for end users. Seagate fully expects the hard drive shortage to continue until the end of 2012 as manufacturers struggle to catch up to consumer demand.
Now is not the time to buy a mechanical hard drive, not unless you absolutely have to. As you know, the recent flooding in Thailand hit the hard drive industry pretty hard (from a technology standpoint -- obviously the biggest tragedy here is the impact it had on people's lives), and even just a 1TB hard drive is going to set you back about $150 street, almost triple what they selling for prior to the flood. Is the shortage really that bad?
The major hard disk drive manufacturers have already admitted that the massive flooding in Thailand will put a severe crimp in HDD prices and availability for the foreseeable future. (A lot of major HDD factories reside in Thailand, you see.) In fact, HDD prices have already begun to climb at many major online retailers. But could the fallout be even more widespread? A new report says that the lack of HDDs could cause as overall PC shortage this holiday season, as OEMs who plow through their existing HDD inventory won’t be able to replace the components.
A few days ago we were speculating, along with the rest of the web, that the massive flooding in Thailand could end up playing havoc with the mechanical drive industry. New images of Western Digital’s flagship production facility just barely above water have surfaced (no pun intended), along with dire predictions from CEO John Coyne. According to Coyne, the water damage will result in significantly reduced hard drive supplies going into 2012.
There's been a rumor floating around that Nvidia's Tegra 2 platform is suffering from a yield issue, one that news and rumor site Fudzilla claims it confirmed with a "few analysts." That's news to Nvidia, which denies there's anything to worry about.
"Nvidia got back to us denying the Tegra 2 yield issue but we heard that high quality screens might be difficult to get these days," Fudzilla says.
Fudzilla isn't necessarily convinced, saying if there is a yield issue, Nvidia "has the power to blame it on the high demand." Maybe so, but it's worth noting some Tegra 2 products have already started shipping, including Toshiba's Folio 100 tablet line and Point of View's Tegra 2 slates (in Nordic countries).
Get ready to step into the hot tub time machine and warp back to late 2005, when the Xbox 360 was new and in short supply. Now just over 5 years old, the console could again be in short supply in the coming months, and so could the Kinect, Microsoft warns.
According to InformationWeek, Microsoft moved 1.9 million Xbox 360 consoles in December alone, with the recently launched Kinect motion control system playing a big role in hitting that number. As a result, Microsoft unloaded inventory in December that was earmarked for January and February.
"In order to keep up with holiday demand in December for Xbox 360 and Kinect, Microsoft pulled units from its January and February production," a company spokesman said.
Microsoft launched the Kinect in November and sold more than 2.5 million units in the first 30 days. Pretty much everyone who wanted one was able to get one, but that won't necessarily be the case for the next couple of months.
Trying to follow the ups and downs of the DRAM market is a crap-shoot at best, but market research firm iSuppli is doing its best and now believes we're in for a shortage.
There are two reasons for this. First, iSuppli says bottlenecks in the availability of tooling equipment are cause for concern, and secondly, challenges relating to immersion yield could throw a wrench into the whole operation.
On that second point, iSuppli says resource constrained companies could have trouble funding the transition to beyond 50nm and end up reducing their total output. Elpida, for example, is in the midst of moving from 6xnm to 45nm, but if the company should run into any unexpected yield issues along the way, bit production could be significantly disrupted, iSuppli said.
Or this could all be much ado about nothing. Stay tuned.
Much ado has been made over the chip shortage that apparently affected Nvidia's Fermi architecture, but they're not the only ones dealing with a tight supply. According to DigiTimes, supply for AMD chipsets is also running tight. So much so, that AMD is letting foundry partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) tap into its 55nm capacity reserved for chipsets to help ease current GPU shortages.
You probably noticed that AMD's high-end HD 5870 and HD 5970 videocards were pretty tough to come by in the second half of 2009, which DigiTimes says was the result of low yields on TSMC's 40nm process. As a result, graphics card partners placed more orders for 55nm Radeon HD 4000 series parts than they otherwise would have.
TSMC's recent 40nm yields have been improving at a steady clip, which should help ease the tight supply of both 40nm and 55nm parts, but part of this is being offset by high demand, DigiTimes says. As it stands, AMD's chipset shortage will likely last throughout the third quarter, and possibly into the fourth.
Micron, a major player in the memory chip market who also sells its own line of computer memory kits under its Crucial branding, appears unfazed about the looming memory shortage industry analysts have been squawking about. Shortage or not, Micron isn't going to increase production, and instead is focusing on process geometry shrinks.
Micron isn't the only unwilling to ramp up production. Samsung's main chip guy, Oh-Hyun Kwon, warned DRAM makers against knee-jerk reactions into capacity expansion projects, and said more investments should be made towards advancing memory technology.
Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation (PSC) chairman Fran Huang sang a similar tune, telling DRAM makers they should take a cautious approach to expansion, lest the memory industry repeat the same mistakes all over again and saturate the market.
Citing sources from motherboard makers, news and rumor site DigiTimes says there's a shortage of mobo components, including multilayered ceramic chips (MLCCs), solid capacitors, LAN connectors, and other odds and ends. The reason, sources say, is because of recent labor shortages.
In response to the shortages, Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, and ECS have all begun "aggressively placing orders" in an attempt to avoid having the component shortages affect overall shipments.
The good news is that the labor situation is expected to improve after April, by which time the mobo market will have entered the slow season. The tight supply of components will also improve, but component makers fear that their performance will be affected in the second quarter as top-tier mobo makers halt any new orders to avoid a surplus in inventory.