As for Samsung, they have been focusing on the current memory products this summer, because it is the No.1 force driving the company’s revenues and losses. In June the company started manufacturing 90nm 1Gbit DDR and DDR2 chips having once again proven its technological leadership in the memory market. In July Samsung started mass production of DDR20667 chips. Of course, these chips were also produced with 90nm technology and were available in 256Mbit and 512Mbit versions, which were the most popular. These chips were intended for the i945 based platform in the first place, however, there are some rumors that i945 will hardly be as highly demanded as it was expected to be. So, Samsung has to be a little bit more careful: the industry is overall pretty skeptical about the prospects of DDR2 for this year 2005.
Elpida certainly responded to the beginning of mass production of 90nm 1Gbit chip, although in a quite prospective manner. Namely they announced that they had just completed the development of 2Gbit 80nm DDr2 chips. The matter is though, that they will only start producing in spring 2006 at the earliest, when Samsung will undoubtedly roll out something as well. I would also like to say that although Micron started shipping first samples of 2Gbit DDR2 chips in the end of June, they claim the mass shipments to be scheduled for an even later time than those of Elpida: for Q4 2006.
All other big fishes in the memory business didn’t introduce anything new on the technology front this time: most of them were busy reorganizing their finances and production capacities. For example, Hynix is planning to pay back its 2-billion dollar stabilization loan this summer, which immediately caused tremendous protest from FTC and European Union, Hynix’ main competitors. This scandal about the state support policies still echoes in the industry: in the very end of June the world Trade Organization called back its previous decision and claimed that the sanctions applied to Hynix chips exported to the USA had been fair and correct.
The only way-out in this situation is to strengthen partnerships with other companies and to sell the chips under their brand name. the rumors say that the partnership of Hynix and STMicro has become so close, that the latter is already thinking of buying about 10% of Hynix’ stock in their joint fab in mainland China. By the way, since the memory production keeps growing, Hynix started to pay more and more attention to the chips testing facilities and increases their capacities in this field. As a result, this may have a highly positive effect on the market: the shortage will grow lower and the prices of independent companies offering memory testing services will drop down significantly.