Late 2010 to Bring Memory Chip Shortage: Report

Micron memory fabrication in progress
Source: Micron

Memory chips for computers are likely to be in short supply by the second half of next year as consumers demand more capacity and companies embark on a delayed drive to replace PCs, industry tracker DRAMeXchange believes.

Prices for DRAM chips, the most common type of computer memory, have stabilized over the past two months after rising for most of the year as recession-struck chipmakers slashed capacity and capital spending, causing shortages.

DRAMeXchange forecast on Thursday that shipments of PCs would rise 13 percent next year, driven by notebooks, with 22.5 percent growth to 160 million units, and pared-down netbooks, set to rise 22 percent to 35 million units.

“DRAM will likely face a serious shortage in 2H10 triggered by the hot PC sales,” DRAMeXchange said. “The DRAM price decline will likely be eased in 2Q10. That is, DRAM vendors will have a great opportunity to remain in profit for the whole year.”

Top U.S. memory chipmaker Micron (NYSE: MU) on Tuesday delivered its first quarterly profit in nearly three years as rising prices lifted sales beyond expectations.

DRAMeXchange forecast that 2010 capital expenditure by DRAM vendors would rise 80 percent from this year’s record low to $7.85 billion, rising to $10 billion to $12 billion by 2011 or 2012.

Industry leader Samsung would spend $2.6 billion, it predicted. Fellow Korean chipmaker Hynix said on Thursday it planned 2.3 trillion won ($2.2 billion) in capital expenditure next year.

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