DRAM Prices on the Rise

2013-03-12 DRAM Spot PricesThere’s been a lot of talk recently about increasing DRAM prices.  Although this trend has been ongoing since late November (see chart) it has only recently garnered the attention of the press.

What is going on, and how is it likely to play out?  The prices in the chart represent the lowest spot market prices reported by market tracker InSpectrum for the past year.  These prices typically remain below contract prices as long as there is an oversupply, and stay above contract prices during a shortage.

According to InSpectrum’s figures, today’s lowest spot market DRAM prices are about double Continue reading “DRAM Prices on the Rise”

Why Do Memories Have Those Odd Names?

Where do all those memory names come from???From time to time I am asked: “Why is NAND flash called NAND?” or “Why do we say RAM?” and similar questions.  A lot of this has to do with history, and a lot of terminology which is now obsolete.  To understand these strange names, you have to understand the history of memories.  The Computer History Museum (CHM) in Silicon Valley is a great help in this vein.

Since the Memory Guy has been in Silicon Valley since 1977, a lot of this information is stored in my head.  Let me try to share it with you in a way that I hope will make more sense, and will help outsiders to understand these odd names.

Here’s the history of memory nomenclature, as I understand it: Continue reading “Why Do Memories Have Those Odd Names?”

Macronix Solves Flash Wear Problem

Macronix Headquarters, Hsinchu TaiwanThe December issue of the IEEE Spectrum includes a fascinating article about a 100 million cycle flash memory developed by Macronix.  The company will present this design at at IEDM this month.

In brief: Macronix’ researchers buried a heater in the array to heat the tunnel dielectric, annealing out the disruptions & traps that might cause a bit to fail.

A prototype has so far been tested more than 100 million cycles and it shows no sign of impending failure.  Researchers believe that it is likely to reach one billion or more cycles, but such testing will take several months.  This just may be able to Continue reading “Macronix Solves Flash Wear Problem”

History of Memory Slideshow in EE Times

EE TimesEE Times has published a very interesting slideshow called: A Brief History of Memory by Kristin Lewotsky.  This is recommended reading for all who peruse of The Memory Guy blog.  Even the comments are good reading, with one commenter sharing a history of ferroelectrics that dates back to the 1950s.

It’s interesting to see the Continue reading “History of Memory Slideshow in EE Times”

Why Most NAND Rankings Ignore SanDisk

SanDisk Doesn't Show Up in NAND Market Share FiguresEvery so often I run into someone who asks about the discrepancy between various analysts’ NAND market share rankings and SanDisk’s shipments.  After all, SanDisk is a leading producer of flash memory and has captive manufacture through its joint venture with Toshiba.  Yet, most market share rankings leave SanDisk out.

What’s going on here?

Owing to a long-standing convention SanDisk’s NAND chips aren’t counted since they are sold as “Systems” (with a controller.)  The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) set that rule up, and most analysts Continue reading “Why Most NAND Rankings Ignore SanDisk”

Spansion Introduces 8Gb NOR Flash

Just in case anyone thought that NOR flash was not going to get any denser, Spansion announced a single-chip 8Gb parallel NOR today.  This product, built using Spansion’s MirrorBit technology on a 45nm line is not only the densest monolithic NOR chip on the market, it’s also the NOR flash with the finest process technology.

Spansion’s GL-T product is aimed at applications that need high densities at read speeds faster than those that NAND flash can deliver.  Spansion tells The Memory Guy that read performance is 95MB/s and program performance is 1.8 MB/s.

Sampling will commence in December, with production in the first quarter of 2013.

Everspin Samples First STT MRAM

Everspin today announced that select customers have been sampled the world’s first “ST-RAM” a 64Mb chip using STT MRAM technology, rather than Everspin’s existing production toggle MRAM technology.

For the past decade or so memory researchers have been looking to Spin Transfer Torque (sometimes called “Spin Torque Transfer”) MRAMs as a way of getting to tighter processes than conventional toggle MRAM.  It seems that current densities in toggle MRAM rise too high as the process shrinks – at some point the process could no longer scale since chips would burn themselves out during programming.  The ST-RAM paves Everspin’s path toward Continue reading “Everspin Samples First STT MRAM”

Is there a NAND Shortage? Not quite.

NAND Weekly Spot Price per GB - Up Slightly SInce JulyThe trade press has recently carried reports of a NAND shortage which The Memory Guy finds to be very premature.  True, NAND prices are not at their lowest point – today NAND can be found for 38 cents per gigabyte, up from a low of 31 cents in July.  But does this constitute a shortage?  No, not really.

One of the key indicators of a shortage is a crossover between spot and contract pricing – during an oversupply spot pricing is lower than contract pricing since OEMs and suppliers both place excess product on the market and compete on price.  During a shortage the opposite is true – suppliers don’t have any Continue reading “Is there a NAND Shortage? Not quite.”

Does the ‘Windows Bump’ Really Exist?

Windows Introductions vs DRAM Bit GrowthDRAM manufacturers often refer to “The Windows Bump” – a phenomenon that is believed to occur after every release of a new version of the Windows operating system.  According to this theory DRAM demand increases for a period following an introduction.

An example: in a recent article Kingston VP Scott Chen said that an increase in sales for Windows 8 might help raise DRAM demand, leading to more stable prices.

Demand is expected to pick up on the upcoming launch of Windows 8 tablets and Ultrabook PCs later in the second half of 2012.

Does the Windows Bump really exist?  The Memory Guy thought Continue reading “Does the ‘Windows Bump’ Really Exist?”