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DRAM Production Cuts Take Effect, Likely to Lead to a Rebound for DRAM Prices

According to DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce, given the persistent oversupply situation in the global DRAM market, along with the -5% YoY shipment growth for PCs, October contract prices have dropped below $16 USD, and are continuing to approach the $15 USD mark. The trends pose as yet another test to the cost structures of DRAM makers. With prices approaching or dropping below cash cost, manufacturers are faced with the option of either undergoing production cuts or shifting their focus towards non-DRAM products.

Other than ProMOS, which chose to quit the DRAM market due to financial woes, manufacturers like Elpida and Rexchip have taken the initiative to lower their output levels in August. Powerchip, beginning September, took a similar initiative by adjusting P3 wafer levels, whereas in the following month, Nanya and Inotera made the official announcement to implement 20% production cuts. For the South Korean DRAM manufacturers, whose cost structures appear to be superior to those of other competitors, no production cuts have been announced nor taken, although efforts to control output ratios have been intensified. At the same time that production of commodity DRAM is being lowered, an increasing amount of emphasis is being placed on the production of the more profitable mobile and server DRAMs.

Micron 20 nm NAND Flash Powers Skyhawk Enterprise SSD

Micron Technology, Inc. today announced another new storage industry milestone—the integration of its 20nm NAND flash storage media into a high-endurance, high-capacity enterprise system. San Jose-based Skyera is using Micron's 20nm, 128 gigabit (Gb) multilevel cell (MLC) NAND flash storage media to pack an astounding 44 terabytes (TB) into a single, compact enterprise storage system for big data, cloud computing, and virtualization applications. Skyera's Skyhawk system uses more than 3,000 Micron flash storage components, creating a high-capacity, high-performance storage solution that fits into a 1U form factor—about the size of a pizza box.

Both the end system and the components have earned industry awards for innovation. The Skyhawk storage system‘s impressive capabilities earned it Best of Show at this year’s Flash Memory Summit in August. In February, UBM TechInsights recognized Micron‘s groundbreaking 20nm MLC NAND (developed jointly with Intel); giving it their top honor—Semiconductor of the Year. This 20nm process technology is critical to creating storage media with the capacity, endurance, and cost-effectiveness required for enterprise storage on this scale—and Micron’s device is the only MLC NAND available in a 128 Gb density.

Micron Technology Reports Results for the Fourth Quarter and 2012 Fiscal Year

Micron Technology, Inc., today announced results of operations for its fourth quarter and 2012 fiscal year, which ended August 30, 2012. For the fourth quarter, the company had a net loss attributable to Micron shareholders of $243 million, or $0.24 per diluted share, on net sales of $2.0 billion.

The results for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 compare to a net loss of $320 million, or $0.32 per diluted share, on net sales of $2.2 billion for the third quarter of fiscal 2012, and a net loss of $135 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, on net sales of $2.1 billion for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011.

Micron Announces Availability of 30 nm DDR3L-RS Products

Micron Technology, Inc., one of the world's leading providers of advanced semiconductor solutions, today announced high-volume availability of 30-nanometer (nm) reduced-power DDR3L-RS SDRAM for ultrathin computing devices and tablets. The 2-gigabit (Gb) and 4 Gb solutions reduce power consumption in standby to provide longer battery life, while maintaining the high performance and cost effectiveness of PC DRAM.

"Micron has been one of the leaders in the development and commercialization of DDR3L-RS and the introduction of its 30 nm product is confirmation of this," said Mike Howard, senior principal analyst, DRAM and Memory at IHS iSuppli. "DDR3L-RS is an excellent option for customers who have tight power budgets and need high performance at a competitive price. We expect many of the next-generation ultrathin platforms to take advantage of DDR3L-RS."

Lexar Introduces High-Performance microSDHC UHS-I and microSDXC UHS-I Memory Cards

Lexar, a leading global brand of flash memory products, today introduced the Lexar High-Performance microSDHC UHS-I and microSDXC UHS-I memory cards for smartphones, tablets, and sports camcorders. The UHS-I cards carry a Class 10 speed classification, and deliver read transfer speeds up to 300x (45MB per second), allowing users to quickly capture, store, play back, and transfer their favorite media files, including 1080p full-HD and 3D video.

Designed for adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies, these cards enable outdoor enthusiasts to capture up to eight hours of their greatest moments in HD and share it with friends faster. Users can also store up to 24,800 photos or 14,200 songs, and when paired with the included USB 3.0 reader, get fast transfer rates from their memory card to their PC or Mac computer.

Toshiba Cuts NAND Flash Prices by up to 25 Percent

Apparently, Toshiba's strategy of inflating NAND flash pricing by cutting down production by 30 percent, stimulating similar reductions across the industry, backfired. Taking advantage of Toshiba's production cuts, Micron Technology ramped up its production, gaining market share. The Idahoan company's increased market share at Toshiba's expense ensured that SSD makers with Toshiba NAND flash create variants of their products with Micron's chips. Toshiba's latest move, according to a TweakTown report, is to scale its NAND flash production back up, and cut NAND flash prices down by 20 - 25 percent. Such a price-cut could result in further SSD price-cuts across the board, as the industry would end up with large inventories of Toshiba- and Micron-branded NAND flash chips.

Source: TweakTown

Intel to Standardize SSD Specifications for Ultrabook

Intel plans to standardize SSD specifications for its Ultrabook platform, which would steer it toward slimmer, faster Ultrabooks. The company plans to invite a large number of industry players, including NAND flash memory makers SanDisk, Micron, and Samsung, for discussions into what is known as Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF), a new SSD form-factor derived from mSATA (think Apple's SSD form-factor found in the MacBook Air).

Intel is in a bit of a hurry with its NGFF SSD plans because the current mSATA form-factor poses limitations, including limited PCB area, in which a limited number of ONFI channels can be wired out. NGFF most likely is mSATA with greater PCB area, allowing the same number of ONFI channels as 2.5-inch SSDs, with the latest generation of controllers and toggle-NAND flash memory. NGFF doesn't increase the thickness of the SSD compared to mSATA, but merely elongates it (again, similar in form to Apple's SSD specifications). Five length standards are being discussed between Intel and Ultrabook partners.Source: DigiTimes

Seagate Appoints Gary Gentry to Lead Solid State Drive Business

Seagate Technology plc (NASDAQ: STX) today announced that Gary Gentry has rejoined Seagate to lead its solid state drive (SSD) business as senior vice president, SSD. Mr. Gentry will have responsibility for driving Seagate leadership in the SSD space, with time-to-market, competitive product offerings. He will be located in Longmont, Colorado and will report directly to Rocky Pimentel, chief sales and marketing officer.

Mr. Gentry has over 25 years of experience in the storage industry, including most recently as the general manager of the Enterprise SSD Division of Micron Corporation. Prior to rejoining Seagate, he held leadership positions focusing on solid-state technologies at Spansion Corporation and Storage Genetics. He also served as chief marketing officer for Maxtor, and provided strategic consulting to Hitachi Global Storage Systems. While at Seagate he held various management positions including vice president, strategic marketing and planning.

Micron Announces Availability of Phase Change Memory for Mobile Devices

Micron Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq:MU), one of the world's leading providers of advanced semiconductor solutions, today announced an industry first with high-volume availability of its 45-nanometer (nm) Phase Change Memory (PCM) for mobile devices, featuring 1-gigabit (Gb) PCM plus 512-megabit (Mb) LPDDR2 in a multichip package. As the first company in the world currently offering PCM solutions in volume production, Micron is providing chipset vendors, enablers, and handset manufacturers with a proven product that meets the expanding needs of today's wireless market and paves the way for enhanced features and capabilities.

PCM provides enhanced boot time, simplifies software development and boosts performance with overwrite capability. It also provides very low power consumption and extremely high reliability. In addition, the design-optimizing shared interface between LPDDR2 and PCM is fully compliant with JEDEC industry standards.

Micron and Elpida Announce Sponsor Agreement

Micron Technology, Inc., and Elpida Memory, Inc.'s ("Elpida") trustees announced today that the parties have signed a definitive sponsor agreement for Micron to acquire and support Elpida. The agreement has been entered into in connection with Elpida's corporate reorganization proceedings conducted under the jurisdiction of the Tokyo District Court.

Under the agreement, 200 billion Yen (approximately USD $2.5 billion assuming 80 Yen/USD) total consideration, less certain reorganization proceeding expenses, will be used to satisfy the reorganization claims of Elpida's secured and unsecured creditors. Micron will acquire 100 percent of the equity of Elpida for 60 billion Yen (approximately USD $750 million) to be paid in cash at closing. In addition, 140 billion Yen (approximately USD $1.75 billion) in future annual installment payments through 2019 will be paid from cash flow generated from Micron's payment for foundry services provided by Elpida, as a Micron subsidiary. As a result of these payments, all pre-petition debt obligations of Elpida will be fully discharged under the corporate reorganization proceedings. The agreement also calls for Micron to provide certain financing support for Elpida capital expenditures, subject to specified conditions, and to maintain Elpida's operations and employees.

Micron Boosts DDR3 Offering With 2 Gb and 4 Gb, 1 GHz/DDR3-2133

Micron Technology, Inc., one of the world's leading providers of advanced semiconductor solutions, today introduced a new class of 1 GHz, 2-gigabit (Gb) and 4 Gb, 30-nanometer (nm) DDR3 devices, strengthening the company's comprehensive DDR3 portfolio. Designed for the high- performance networking and discrete graphics markets, the new devices feature industry-leading low power use while delivering speeds up to 2133 megatransfers per second (MT/s).

Micron supports its customers in highly competitive market segments with a broad portfolio of DRAM and nonvolatile memory devices that meet the demand for high-performance, cost-efficient memory solutions. "Micron has been successful in creating a complete DRAM portfolio, and this product offering rounds out the broadest DRAM offering in the industry," said Mike Howard, senior principal analyst, DRAM and Memory at iSuppli.

RunCore Debuts New 2.5-inch 7mm SSD

RunCore, the leading manufacturer of high-performance and rugged solid state drives (SSDs), today introduced their new Pro VI 2.5-inch 7 mm SSD for Ultrabooks, offering higher and more stable performance than previous 7 mm SSDs.

According to latest results of various research institutions, it is estimated that more than a million Ultrabooks will be bought within 2012 as the retail price is expected to drop into the $799 to $899 range. Recently SSD pricing has already been declining, encourageing PC suppliers to use SSDs in their products, in particular Ultrabooks. In addition to the Pro V Ultra SSD, RunCore once again introduce another new 7 mm SSD – Pro VI 2.5-inch 7 mm SSD - to enrich their product lineup for Ultrabooks.

Micron Emerges as Front-Runner To Buy Out Elpida

Following a rapid turn of events, Micron Technology has emerged as a front-runner in the race to buy out ailing Japanese DRAM major Elpida. Elpida revealed Micron as the winner of the second round of bidding for the right to negotiate exclusively to buy it. DRAMeXchange predicts that Micron may offer up to 300 billion JPY (US $3.75 billion) for the deal, and the Micron+Elpida combine that emerges out of the deal, with its DRAM capacity, could bring about a revolutionary change in the industry.

The Elpida buyout, according to market analysts at TrendForce, will give Micron the capability to compete with Korean DRAM heavyweights SK Hynix and Samsung Electronics, in high-volume DRAM manufacturing. Elpida has been known for investments in DRAM R&D, and isn't behind the two Korean companies in terms of volume manufacturing. Its 30 nm-class DRAM yield-rate is nearly mature, while the next-generation 25 nm process is in testing phase.

Source: DRAMeXchange

SK Hynix Drops Out Of Race To Acquire Elpida

Japanese DRAM maker Elpida has been reporting chronic financial problems since the beginning of 2012. It soon filed for bankruptcy, driving interest in competitors Toshiba, Global Foundries, Micron and Hynix (SK Hynix), to acquire it. Hynix has now reportedly withdrawn from the Elpida takeover bid. The withdrawal is likely due to its own financial situation. Hynix is not the first to withdraw from the bid, the first to drop out was Toshiba. With the two gone, Micron Technology is next in line, with a bid of US $1.4 billion to buy out Elpida.

Source: HardwareInfo

Micron Announces Its First Fully Functional DDR4 DRAM Module

Micron Technology, Inc., one of the world's leading providers of advanced semiconductor solutions, today announced development of its first fully functional DDR4 DRAM module. The company has begun sampling and has received feedback from major customers to support quick implementation for applications in 2013.

It is expected that the enterprise and micro-server markets will take full advantage of the new features and specifications designed into DDR4, accelerating early adoption of the technology. In addition, the fast-growing ultrathin client and tablet markets will also benefit from new opportunities enabled by the power savings and performance features of Micron's DDR4.

Micron and Hynix Close Gap on NAND Flash Market Leaders in Q4

Solid manufacturing and strong pricing allowed Micron Technology Inc. and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. to post strong performances in the global NAND flash business in the fourth quarter, allowing them to narrow the gap in market share between them and the industry leaders, and setting the stage for further advances in 2012.

No. 3-ranked Micron Technology Inc. of the United States achieved 11.7 percent revenue growth in the fourth quarter compared to the third, according to a new IHS iSuppli Data Flash Market Tracker report from information and analytics provider IHS. Meanwhile, fourth-placed Hynix Semiconductor Inc. of South Korea expanded its revenue by 5.4 percent, as presented in the table below.

Worldwide Semiconductor Market Grew 3.7% in 2011 to $301 Billion

Worldwide semiconductor revenues increased more than 3.7% year over year to $301 billion in 2011, according to the latest version of the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Semiconductor Applications Forecaster (SAF). The industry weathered the macroeconomic uncertainties in the U.S and Europe, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, China's slow down in the second half of the year, and floods in Thailand. Meanwhile, device applications, such as smartphones, media tablets and e-readers, automotive infotainment, notebook PCs, datacenter servers, and wireless and wired communication infrastructure drove robust consumption of semiconductors.

IDC's SAF tracks more than 100 semiconductor companies. Over 40 of these companies experienced year-over-year revenue growth greater than 5%, while about the same number of companies saw their revenue decline by more than 5%.

Intel - Micron Collaboration Wins Insight Award for Semiconductor of the Year

UBM TechInsights, the leader in technology and IP consulting, is pleased to recognize Intel - Micron for their collaboration on the Intel-Micron Flash Technologies (IMFT) 20 nm MLC NAND Flash and award them with the Insight Award for the 2011 Semiconductor of the Year.

UBM TechInsights' circuit analysis verified that Intel - Micron's latest Flash component was the first to be manufactured at the 20 nm process node. By using high-k dielectric to replace the silicon dioxide, that is traditionally used, Intel-Micron managed to reduce leakage while keeping power consumption low - a must for today's light weight portable electronics.

JEDEC Announces Plans to Standardize Non-Volatile Wireless Memory

JEDEC Solid State Technology Association, the global leader in standards development for the microelectronics industry, today announced that its JC-64 Committee for Embedded Memory Storage and Removable Memory Cards has formed a Subcommittee focused on the standardization of non-volatile wireless memory. To be chaired by Nokia and vice-chaired by Micron Technology and Samsung Semiconductor, the JC-64.9 Subcommittee for Wireless Memory welcomes interested companies worldwide to participate by joining JEDEC or calling 703-907-7560 for more information.

Wireless memory is rapidly emerging as the next generation in data transfer technology, and is intended to enable fast, wireless connectivity with read/write capability between mobile devices (Wireless Memory Hosts) and battery-free memory tags (Wireless Memory Tags).

Micron Announces mSATA Solid-State Drive for Ultrathin Laptops

Micron Technology, Inc., one of the world's leading providers of advanced semiconductor solutions, today announced a new solid-state drive (SSD) that broadens Micron's client product portfolio to serve the rapidly emerging Ultrabook category. The newly announced drive is based on the proven architecture of Micron's popular RealSSD C400 drives, providing the same high performance and reliability.

The C400 mSATA drive is designed to work in ultrathin, high-performance SSD-based systems and can also act as a cache drive in dual-drive systems. SSD-caching systems have both a hard-disk drive and a low-capacity SSD. These systems use software to automatically identify the most frequently used files and programs and then access those files from the SSD, providing greater performance than a hard-disk drive, but at a lower price point than a stand-alone SSD.

Micron Technology Settles Lawsuit With Oracle

Micron Technology, Inc., announced today that it reached an agreement with Oracle America Inc. to settle a lawsuit filed by Oracle against Micron in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The lawsuit alleged a conspiracy to increase DRAM prices and other violations of federal and state antitrust and unfair competition laws based on purported conduct for the period from Aug. 1, 1998, through at least June 15, 2002, and sought joint and several damages, trebled, as well as restitution, disgorgement, attorneys' fees, costs and injunctive relief. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, the parties agreed to a settlement and release of all claims and a dismissal with prejudice of the litigation.

Micron Technology Reports Results for the Second Quarter of Fiscal 2012

Micron Technology, Inc., today announced results of operations for its second quarter of fiscal 2012, which ended March 1, 2012. For the second quarter, the company had a net loss attributable to Micron shareholders of $224 million, or $0.23 per diluted share, on net sales of $2.1 billion. The results for the second quarter of fiscal 2012 compare to a net loss of $187 million, or $0.19 per diluted share, on net sales of $2.1 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2012, and net income of $72 million, or $0.07 per diluted share, on net sales of $2.3 billion for the second quarter of fiscal 2011.

Xilinx 7 Series FPGA/Micron RLDRAM 3 Platform Enables Substantially Higher Data Rates

Xilinx, Inc. and Micron Technology, Inc., today announced the first public hardware demonstration of an FPGA interfacing with RLDRAM 3 memory, a new and emerging memory standard for high-end networking applications such as packet buffering and inspection, linked lists, and lookup tables. Operating with Virtex-7 and Kintex-7 FPGAs at data rates up to 1600 megabits per second (Mb/s), Micron's high-performance RLDRAM 3 memory combines high density, high bandwidth and fast SRAM-like random access to enable a 60 percent higher data rate and memory bandwidth compared to that of the previous generation (Virtex-6 FPGAs/RLDRAM2 memory standard). RLDRAM 3 memory enables 40G and 100G networking systems that require higher speed, higher density, lower power and lower latency.

Virtex-7 and Kintex-7 FPGAs are designed with the necessary IO standards and architectural components for optimal interfacing with RLDRAM 3, providing a significant boost to system performance for high-performance wireless and wired networking systems. RLDRAM 3 memory uses innovative circuit design to minimize the time between the beginning of an access cycle and the instant that the first data is available. Ultra-low bus turnaround time enables higher sustainable bandwidth with near-term balanced read-to-write ratios.

Photronics Purchases U.S. nanoFab Building from Micron Technology, Inc.

Photronics, Inc., a worldwide leader in supplying innovative imaging technology solutions for the global electronics industry, announced today that it paid approximately $35 million to Micron Technology, Inc. (“Micron”) in connection with the purchase of its U.S. nanoFab building in Boise, ID that it previously leased from the building’s owner Micron. In connection therewith, the Company also amended its credit facility adding a 5-year term loan for $25 million and reducing interest rates by 25 basis points on borrowings as defined in the credit facility.

As a result of the purchase, Photronics’ operating lease with Micron for the nanoFab facility has been cancelled. This reduced the Company’s related outstanding operating lease commitments by a total of $15 million for fiscal years 2013 and 2014. Accordingly, as a result of this transaction, beginning in fiscal year 2013, the Company’s net cash flow will improve by approximately $5 million annually and its expenses will be reduced by approximately $5 million annually.

Micron Announces First 2.5-inch PCIe Enterprise SSD

Micron Technology, Inc., one of the world's leading providers of NAND Flash and advanced solid-state storage solutions, today announced that it has developed a 2.5-inch enterprise solid-state drive (SSD) based on a PCIe interface. The solution combines a high-performance PCIe interface with a hot-swappable 2.5-inch form factor that creates new options for enterprise server performance scalability and serviceability.

Because the 2.5-inch form factor allows PCIe SSDs to be integrated into the front end of the server (like traditional data storage drives), customers can easily service the drive or scale performance - without ever powering down the server.

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