Wed, Apr 01, 2009 - Page 12 News List

DRAMeXchange warns of shortage in the second half

LOW OUTPUT: The chip researcher said that with factory utilization at a low 50 percent, memory chips could be in short supply when demand picks up

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTE

Slower growth in the output of computer memory chips may cause a supply constraint in the second half of this year, Taipei-based DRAMeXchange Technology Inc (集邦科技) said in a report released yesterday.

Chip prices could rise to chipmakers’ cost level of approximately US$1.50 per unit as manufacturers keep factory utilization low amid growing financial difficulties, DRAMeXchange said.

After suffering from the industry’s two-year downturn, computer memory chipmakers could maintain utilization at 50 percent or even lower by the end of the year, resulting in chip output growing only 2.43 percent this year from last year, rather than 17.8 percent as DRAMeXchange previously estimated.

This could cause a shortage in the second half of the year as chip demand may grow at a revised 13.84 percent annual pace this year, the researcher said, echoing the latest outlook about the industry made by Powerchip Semiconductor Corp (力晶半導體), the nation’s top computer memory chipmaker, last week.

Powerchip said it expected to see a serious shortage sometime in the third or the fourth quarter.

The spot price for mainstream DRAM chips may rebound in the second half of the year to between US$1.20 and US$1.50 per unit, which is the breakeven point for most DRAM companies, DRAMeXchange forecast.

Despite the recent rise in spot prices, shares of major DRAM companies fell yesterday amid investor disappointment at Taiwan Memory Co’s (TMC, 台灣記憶體公司) decision to postpone the planned announcement of its strategic partner to today.

Powerchip dropped 4.13 percent to close at NT$4.41, while Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技), the nation’s second-largest maker of computer memory chips, saw its shares drop to their lower limit at NT$7.75.

The government launched TMC last month to help restructure the ailing DRAM industry. The company said it would announce today the result of its talks with Micron Technology Inc of the US and Elpida Memory Inc of Japan for possible technological tie-up.

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