Two of Japan's top chip makers are increasing their mix of advanced DRAMs in bids to eke profits out of that lacklustre memory market, officials at the companies said recently.
Toshiba and NEC are shifting production to 128Mb DRAMs (dynamic random access memories) while levelling off their 64Mb production, the officials said.
It's unclear what effects, if any, end users will feel from the shift. The 128Mb DRAMs may enable board makers to pack more memory onto their add-in cards. Some 128Mb DRAMs also offer faster interfaces than earlier generation parts.
Falling prices of the 64Mb parts and general pricing pressure on DRAMs is forcing all vendors of the chips to coax their customers, mostly PC vendors, to move to higher-capacity DRAMs. Some vendors have tried to raise profitability by lifting prices recently on higher-end DRAMs. NEC, for instance, introduced 10 per cent price increases in September, a spokesman said.
NEC will increase its monthly 64Mb production to 10 million units in December, up from 8 million units per month in September. Production of 128Mb DRAMs will be raised to about 1 million units per month by around March of next year, the spokesman said. Current monthly production of the chips is about 600,000, he said.
"We are going to push 64Mb volume to the highest level by year-end and then try to direct customers to 128Mb," said a spokesman at NEC.
"We'll be ready [to sell volume levels of 128Mb DRAMs] in the first quarter of 1999," a spokesman at Toshiba said. "But the production volume has not been decided. We need to discuss with customers what their needs are."