Home > Apple, DRAM, Hynix, IC Insights, iPhone, iPod, memory, Z-RAM > Will Z-RAM lead DRAM rebound?

Will Z-RAM lead DRAM rebound?


Most of us have and use swanky mobile phones with enough memory to store videos, songs, clips, images, etc. And we certainly love playing with those wonderful devices. However, have we ever wondered where is all that memory coming from? There’s DRAM, and then, there’s Z-RAM.

Another news! It was reported recently that record sales of NAND-based iPhones and iPods were using up serious flash memory. Apple’s two biggest hits are likely to consume 25 percent of the global flash output! This could drive up prices of memory in the not too distant future. Now this is good news for memory makers.

Now let’s start with DRAM, which just got over a very difficult first half of the year. Evidence now suggests that the market, and free-falling ASPs, turned the corner in July and will begin an upward climb resulting in increases in quarterly growth through the balance of 2007, according to IC Insights. It reports that second-half optimism can be linked to the typical back-to-school and seasonal holiday demand, but other specific reasons include:

PC shipments are forecast to increase 12 percent in 2007, with the average PC forecast to contain 1.4GB of DRAM, an increase of 75 percent over 2006, when memory per PC averaged 800MB. The average system memory per PC is expected to grow from 1.3GB in 2Q07, to 1.4GB in 3Q07 and 1.6GB in 4Q07. Some DRAM vendors believe as many as 45 percent of PCs shipped in 4Q07 will contain 2GB of DRAM, the amount required for optimal performance using the Vista OS.

Strong specialty DRAM demand driven by handsets and game consoles will also help boost DRAM demand in H2-07. The Xbox 360 (512MB GDDR3 DRAM), PlayStation 3 (256MB XDR DRAM), and the Nintendo Wii (64MB GDDR3 DRAM) — require significant amount of memory. Meanwhile, increased DRAM content in new-generation handsets and other personal mobile products will generate more growth opportunities for DRAM suppliers. IC Insights forecasts an average 28MB of DRAM per cellular phone handset in 2007.

On the other side, a significant piece of news hit headlines recently. Hynix Semiconductor Inc. agreed to license Innovative Silicon Inc.’s (ISi), Z-RAM high-density memory intellectual property (IP) for use in its DRAM chips.

According to a release, Z-RAM-based DRAMs will use a singletransistor bitcell — rather than a combination of transistors and capacitor elements — representing the first fundamental DRAM bitcell change since the invention of the DRAM in the early 1970s. Hynix has received the first-mover opportunity to bring Z-RAM to the DRAM market. To ensure this advantage,the two companies have committed considerable engineering resources to work side-by-side on the program.

Z-RAM was initially developed as the world’s lowest-cost embedded memory technology for logic-based ICs such as mobile chipsets, microprocessors, networking and other consumer applications The technology was first licensed, in December 2005, by AMD for upcoming microprocessor designs. Now, the engagement with Hynix positions Z-RAM to become the lowest-cost memory technology in the greater than $30bn memory market. This is surely good news for the memory segment.

So, is supply-demand balance appears to be returning to the DRAM market in the second half of the year? And will Z-RAM lead a rebound? Time will tell!

End note: Recently, there was this power outage in Seoul, Korea, which knocked off quite a few chip production lines at Samsung. As I press this blog, I’ve come across the news that Samsung will likely deliver only 85 percent of promised NAND flash to its major customers. Is the pain going to extend?

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