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Comment: DRAM bailout won't stem decline

Posted: 05 Mar 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:memory chip industry  DRAM chips  technology manufacturing  Taiwan's DRAM makers 

There are four big global DRAM players, none Taiwanese: Samsung has nearly one-third of the DRAM market, followed by Hynix, then Elpida and Micron. Together, they account for 75 per cent of sales. Taiwan's DRAM makers fill out the bottom rungs of the global top 10 of DRAM makers and collectively have less than a 15 per cent market share measured in terms of revenue.

The bankruptcy earlier this year of Qimonda, the world's fourth largest memory chip maker, gave the global industry hope that the resulting capacity would relieve remaining players around the globe.

Qimonda failed after the German state of Saxony, nicknamed "Silicon Saxony" for its concentration of high-tech manufacturing, considered, then rejected a plan to provide loans to save the local employer.

The landscape of the computer industry is changing quickly as computers and mobile phones converge in function. Taiwan's leading firms have been racing to expand their role in the mobile market as personal computer matures. Investing more in computer-focused DRAM makers is the wrong bet for the future.

Quitting memory chips need not be the end of the road. In response to bruising Japanese competition, Intel Corp exited the industry more than 20 years ago in order to focus on the microprocessor market, a bet that led it eventually to become the world's biggest chipmaker.

-Eric Auchard

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