TOKYO Samsung Semiconductor will push its planned shrink to the 0.12-micron process for 256- and 512-Mbit memory parts ahead two quarters in a bid to dominate next year's Windows XP-driven PC market.
"We'll skip 0.13 micron and go to 0.12 from the fourth quarter of this year," said Il Ung Kim, vice president of memory marketing at Samsung. "We originally planned to do this from the second quarter. It's a strategic decision we just recently made associated with next year's 256-Mbit DRAM push."
Target: Windows XP OS
Samsung is ramping its current volume of about 6 million 256-Mbit parts on the 0.15-micron process to 15 million parts per month by the end of this year, Kim said. The target is anticipated demand for memory at that density for PCs running the Windows XP operating system (OS), which Microsoft will unleash this October.
While memory makers and analysts predict the new OS will have little impact on this year's market, some see a new round of corporate purchasing beginning next spring as driving a PC-dominated DRAM market turnaround a year from now.
"Usually a new OS must be tested, and it doesn't penetrate the market so soon," said Kanae Maita, a PC analyst at Gartner/Dataquest Japan.
"There won't be major upgrades until 2002, because many enterprises bought Windows 2000 Professional," Maita said.
After a grim year for PC sales that destroyed DRAM makers' profitability, Dataquest is predicting 13.7 percent growth in 2002 over this year's projected dismal 6.1 percent.
Kim said PCs will need 256 Mbytes of memory to run XP and that companies running it with 128 Mbytes will have problems. Server makers have had to redesign power requirements for hardware running on the lower memory spec, he said.
Samsung plans to have up to 50 percent of its 256-Mbit parts on the 0.12-micron geometry by early in the second quarter next year.