Japanese and South Korean memory firms will close out the year running neck and neck in 64-megabit Dynamic RAM production, according to a study
released in Tokyo this week.
Nikkei Market Access, a Japanese research firm, projects both
countries will hold a 37.6 percent share of the worldwide manufacturing capability
for the memory device in 1998.
The memory industry is rapidly switching from the 16-Mb DRAM chip to
the 64-Mb version. This switch has ramped up this year, partly in response
to DRAM price woes as memory companies attempt to bring the more
dense device to market in order to garner higher-profit margins.
According to the report, Japanese chip companies began shifting from
16-Mb chips to 64-Mb chips last fall. The South Korean companies, shaken by
the collapse of their economy at the tail end of 1997, did not begin the
transition until the second half of this year, but are quickly catching up.
The entire market for 64-Mb DRAM is expected to expand from 80 million
units in 1997 to 680 million units this year.
American and European memory companies are also making the move, and
the two regions should account for 21.1 percent of the total market for the higher-density chip by the end of the year.
Another major memory transition this year is the move to adopt 100-MHz
bus speeds, for use with faster microprocessors and chip sets in PCs. Nikkei
Market Access said Japanese companies have the edge in this area as
well. With the South Korean memory firms not expected to adopt the faster
technology until 1999, the research house said the supply of 100-MHz DRAM will not meet demand this year.