Articles: Memory

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Still, Elpida has a loyal (yet) ally, Powerchip, which is making profits and boosting the sales volumes (225% more compared to the September of 2002). In October, Powerchip laid the keystone into the foundation of its second 300mm fab. The supported manufacturing technological process is 0.10micron, the planned output – 40,000 wafers monthly. Powerchip is going to be the world’s fourth memory maker after the fab is launched – right after Samsung, Micron and Infineon.

High hopes… Elpida was once aiming at the first place, too, and where is it now? They do promise to boost the outcome of their 300mm Hiroshima fab to 15-16,000 wafers per month. That’s even ahead of the schedule they had revealed before. By the way, the announcement about the Hiroshima fab was made at the ceremony devoted to the beginning of the Powerchip fab construction, where Elpida’s orders will always be welcome.

Yeah, Taiwan is steadily gaining its ground, providing production facilities for nearly everyone. Infineon is going to invest $600 million into the island in the next three years. The biggest share of the money comes to the joint venture of Infineon and Nanya – Inotera Memories.

There are peninsulas in this world, which try to be independent of this island, however. The Koreans don’t want to be dependent on anyone. Samsung and Hynix both prefer to rely on their own forces solely. They do it well, though. Hynix is even in holiday spirits now: the results of the last quarter, summed up in October, indicate a sales growth of 27% against the previous quarter and an operational profit! And it seemed like Hynix had forgotten the word “profit” altogether, having erased it from its vocabulary. That’s the effect the protective duties can make…

From the technical point of view, Hynix has nothing new to offer. Well, no one seems to do nowadays. Intel is testing DDR2 products for compatibility with its upcoming platforms. October, Hynix’ 0.11micron 512Mbit chips passed the tests. This is no record, though. Elpida sampled 0.10micron 1Gbit DDR2 chips working at 533MHz instead of 400MHz in October. Mass production is scheduled to start in the beginning of the next year. Hynix works by the same schedule, too.

Well, who said users need 1Gbit? Considering the consumption rate, most of the users will be quite satisfied with a couple (two channels!) of 256-512MB modules on 256Mbit chips. That’s exactly what Micron successfully tested with Intel in October – 0.11micron DDR2 chips. The company is not sluggish in technology, having sampled 1Gbit DDR2-400 and DDR2-533 chips. It’s just not necessary for a mass computer system to have so much of memory.

There is only one traditional refuge, niche markets. Notebooks come first. Looking into the future, Micron is already sampling SO-DIMM DDR2 modules. They are intended for the next generation of Centrino – Sonoma – to arrive in the second half of 2004. The platform is going to be quite outstanding, and the memory should match it. So, DDR2 is the only option here. At that, it’s better to get the memory certified with Intel as soon as possible. That’s what Micron has been doing lately. But there is a lot of time left yet and others will surely catch up. Let’s wait for them.

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