December 1999 Industry Update

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DRAM Update

Spot prices have drifted down slowly in the past month, with some reports of prices below $10 for the first time since early August. The ‘soft’ prices have been blamed partly on a lower-than-expected demand and on the usual seasonal slowdown that happens this time of year. The slower demand diminished the effects of any shortages that might have occurred due to the earthquake in October.

Contract prices remained high, with prices from $10 to over $11. Memory manufacturers are reportedly adjusting production of 8×8 parts to keep prices over $10. Most manufacturers expect contract prices to remain in the $9 to $10 range through Q1. Sources have indicated that Samsung is sitting on a fair amount of inventory, hoping to get premium prices, so this could result in a small glut in Q1 ’00 if they decide to not sit on them too long.

Rambus production began again in earnest last month, in conjunction with the i820 release. Samsung expects to grab the majority of the market, particularly since Micron is does not appear anxious to get in. In addition, sources say that Intel has disqualified all Rambus memory suppliers in their qualifications, with the exception of Samsung. Reportedly, the testing was system-level and suppliers were failing due to excessive noise. These sources indicate that Toshiba proposed a mask revision to fix the problem, but Intel rejected it as too time-consuming. Intel is reportedly working on a PCB fix.

VIA is now pushing the PC2000 standard, which is DDR SDRAM. DDR, which means Double Data Rate, allows the data to be transmitted on both the rising and falling edges of the clock. While the internal DRAM speeds (and thus the latency) are the same as PC133, relatively large internal buffers allow the data to be sent out more quickly, resulting in an effective transfer rate of 266MHz. Micron has some DDR SDRAM on their roadmap for the near future, as do several other manufacturers. Once chipset support is widely available, this memory will compete head-to-head with DRDRAM.

See You Next Year…

We can now jump on the bandwagon, and say that this will likely be the last Industry Update of the Millennium (except, the Millennium officially ends at the end of 2000, but why fight the marketing people?). We hope that you have found these updates useful and interesting. As always, if you have reliable information, or see information published elsewhere that might be useful, please let us know by emailing

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