The commodity memory industry is unique. Historically the cost reductions from process improvements, a.k.a. Moore's Law, drive the manufacturers to re-invest relentlessly or perish. Once the investment is made, as long as the fab is cash-flow positive they are run at max utilization to drive unit cost down. Under these circumstances it is impossible to collude and fix prices, as has been demonstrated a few times through the history of DRAM; any conspiracy to collude has failed miserably.
Of course, it is illegal in the USA to even attempt to collude, which is what the DRAM manufacturers were found guilty of and fined for several years ago.
I know there are laws internal to countries to help prevent this type of price fixing. But is there any thing from the WTO or other international trade entity that aims to prevent/punish such behavior?
From a purely business perspective, no ethical considerations involved, I believe there are many lessons hidden within this story; especially priceless lessons about industry manipulation when it comes to the manufacture of device components. I think next time these guys should work together to create some artificial shortage of these components. It would mean serious $$$.
Funny how we have so many semiconductor manufacturers and yet so few DRAM and NAND suppliers. Or maybe they are not few but only appear so because they are much larger than their competitors. Either way, the unfortunate fire at the SK Hynix plant shows just how much instability still exists when it comes to the manufacture of important tech components and how the entire supply chain could easily be disrupted by a single company.
I expect the capability of applications to take a huge step forward when they start actually writing exclusively for 64 bit apps and incorporating non-linear programming. When this happens, much more memory will be needed.
As we unveil EE Times’ 2015 Silicon 60 list, journalist & Silicon 60 researcher Peter Clarke hosts a conversation on startups in the electronics industry. Panelists Dan Armbrust (investment firm Silicon Catalyst), Andrew Kau (venture capital firm Walden International), and Stan Boland (successful serial entrepreneur, former CEO of Neul, Icera) join in the live debate.