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DRAM forecasts draw conflicting opinions

Posted: 12 Aug 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DRAM forecast  DRAM trends  fab equipment 

"Most of the year's growth is forecasted to occur in the second half of the year, with each of the final two quarters of 2010 expected to post sequential bit growth of approximately 11 per cent," Howard said. "In comparison, bit growth in the first two quarters of 2010 topped out at far below the 10 per cent mark. Such high levels of growth, concentrated in a six-month period, will strain the production capabilities of DRAM suppliers."

However, two issues potentially might negatively impact second-half DRAM availability, according to iSuppli. As reported, ASML cannot ship enough 193nm immersion scanners in the market as a whole. Nikon is behind the curve in the arena.

"While ASML appears capable this year of delivering an additional 33 immersion scanners, it will not be enough to resolve the bottleneck," iSuppli believes.

Secondly, without 193nm immersion scanners, DRAM makers will have trouble scaling beyond 50nm. Samsung, Hynix and Micron have obtained 193nm immersion scanners and other tools to move beyond 50nm.

"However, for resource-constrained companies or for those currently negotiating the transition, difficulties accompanying such a move might reduce their total output, negatively impacting the industry's overall bit growth in the process," according to the firm.

For example, Elpida Memory Inc. is expected to move from 6xnm processes to 45nm—"a considerable lithographic jump that presents confounding yield problems," according to the firm.

Still, the question is clear: How far can DRAM makers scale their products? The DRAM will scale "as far as people have the money to do it," said Bob Merritt, an analyst at Convergent Semiconductors LLC. "It's becoming more and more expensive. It will become a cost-prohibitive slope."

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Worldwide vendors' DRAM revenue (Click on image to enlarge.)

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