Memory: Rising prices, RDRAM on the way, and a new toyby Anand Lal Shimpi on September 13, 1999 8:27 PM EST
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Going along with the shortage theory, is the theory that the move to smaller than 0.25 micron fabrication processes (0.22 micron, 0.18 micron) is leaving a number of chips unfit for sale. This is a highly likely theory as venturing below the 0.25 micron mark is uncharted territory, even Intel has yet to prove whether or not they can produce high enough yields on their 0.18 micron Coppermine processors to make the switch profitable. How does this affect 0.25 micron parts that aren't going to be made using the new fab processes? Well, to upgrade the fab plants you naturally have to close down the fab, and what does that contribute to? A chip shortage.
And we have yet another possibility, this is a report I haven't heard too much about however one vendor is stating that they've been told of some very large OEM purchases (*cough* Dell/Compaq *cough* first they [Compaq] take our Athlons, now they take our memory) of memory thus removing the modules we all want from the hands they need to be in (ours of course). Most of these items of speculation seem to point at the same conclusion, a shortage, is that the case? I don't think anyone but the manufacturers themselves can offer an answer to that question, but just for your own information, I've managed to put together a quick graph of the price of a 128MB SDRAM module (PC100) from August 3, 1999 up to September 8, 1999 below from a particular vendor.
Not too appealing at all is it? So the big question is, what do you do if you are in the market for memory today? The best thing to do is to wait, the memory prices will go back down, it is only a matter of time.
Some of the most extreme reports indicate that the chips alone for a 128MB memory module are going for around $14 a piece (8x8 chips), multiply that number by 16 (the number of chips on a 128MB SDRAM module) and you get the cost of the 128MB of memory on a stick of SDRAM, this is not including the cost of the PCB nor the manufacturing costs either. Surprising, isn't it?
Stay away from memory right now, it is not a good time to buy, but I'm sure you are already well aware of that. After the initial batches of RDRAM begin making their way into the hands of the vendors/distributors from the manufacturers, we should see some order restored to the SDRAM market. Memory manufacturers currently in quite a bit of a bind in terms of what they can do right now, Intel is pressuring them to produce RDRAM, while the rest of the industry wants PC133 compliant SDRAM. What is a company to do?