SEOUL, South Korea The exploding market for digital information products like mobile phones and MP3 music players has created a surging demand for flash memory that Korean producers are unable to meet.
Industry officials said Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Electronics are struggling to meet demand for flash memory as the popularity of mobile phones and other memory-intensive mobile devices grows here and around the world.
"We are converting some DRAM production lines [over] to flash memories," a Samsung executive said. "But it's still hard to meet the demands for NAND," the flash memory used mainly in MP3 players and digital cameras.
Samsung said it expects sales in the flash memory sector to grow as high as $700 million this year.
Meanwhile, Hyundai is focusing on producing NOR flash memory, which is used mainly in mobile phones. "Supplying on time is difficult in spite of expanding the production capacity to 30,000 eight-inch wafers in our Ichon plant's fifth line," said a Hyundai executive. "Our sales would be sharply increased up to $200 million with flash memory alone."
Industry experts predict continued growth in the flash-memory market at least into early next year. Mobile phone makers will generate increased demand for flash memory as they introduce new third-generation wireless phones in the coming months.
Toshiba Corp. and SanDisk Corp. also recently announced plans to increase production of NAND flash memory more than sixfold at Toshiba's joint venture facility, Dominion Semiconductor (Manassas, Va.).
As the flash memory market explodes, industry analysts here forecast that DRAM supply and demand will remain stable. Samsung and Hyundai are responding to that prediction by expanding production of flash memory and SRAMs at the expense of DRAMs. DRAM prices have hovered around $6 per unit since March and are expected to rise to over $7 soon.
Exclusive to EE Times by Chom Dan Inc. (Seoul, South Korea).