Have the Ides of March come for the memory market? Who’s playing Brutus? Who’s Caesar? A few weeks back, I touched on the subject of the memory market possibly being at its high point and that our volatile commodities could be headed toward a drop in activity and pricing. It appears that time is now. Macronix and Transcend revenues decreased for consecutive months, and Winbond followed suit in February.
I have not seen any gaps in shipments coming from factories. Most DDR3 lead times are currently running 8 – 12 weeks. Prices have declined only a small amount, but activity levels have been scarily weak. True, the end of Q1 is upon us, and I can only suspect that the weather issues that plagued the nation had an effect as well. One bright spot is still in the 512-MB SDRAM series that Micron announced long term support on through its partnership with Alliance Memory. Activity has not spiked but I am seeing more activity than normal. DDR2 activity was highlighted by 1GB, particularly the 64x16 product series that can be found in most automotive applications.
All the recent news about NAND flash centers around manufacturers expanding fabs. Investments are being made for longer term newer technology. Kingston is investing in Phison Electronics, which manufactures NAND flash controllers. Micron is expanding its Singapore NAND fab. Inotera just acquired production equipment for nearly $30 million USD. Finally, as I hinted to last month, Samsung has introduced a 128-GB embedded memory for smartphones. That should really keep Samsung’s momentum moving as it takes a stronghold in mobile applications.
Joe Stern is the memory product manager at America II Electronics. With more than 15 years’ experience at the company, Joe has spent the majority of his time on the purchasing and supply chain side of the business. Joe started his career at America II in 1999 in sales. He then transitioned to the purchasing team in 2001 as the memory commodity buyer and was soon promoted to senior memory buyer. During his time on the purchasing team, Joe became a subject matter expert in the memory field, leading new hire and product training, analyzing market conditions, and identifying opportunities to increase profitability all while continuing to support customer supply chains. In 2013, Joe was promoted to the product management team. In his current role as memory product manager, Joe works closely with his global sourcing team and is responsible for inventory position, internal marketing and promotion of key component manufacturers for global sales and purchasing.