Memory manufacturers are on the verge of setting a reference price to ensure they continue to make money on memory. At the same time, Toshiba has cut production of its 16Mbit memory chips, following the lead of the Korean semiconductor companies. It will increase production of its 64Mbit chips.
But opinions differ on whether the price rises the industry has seen in the past four weeks will continue. Alan Stanley, managing director at memory distributor Dane-Elec, said prices were continuing to increase. ?When prices went down, manufacturers were struggling. They?re hoping the reference price will help pick the price back up. This is a concerted attempt by the Japanese and the Koreans.?
He said the semiconductor market, worth an estimated $30 billion in 1996, was such an important part of the world?s economy that it was in everybody's interests for prices to stay stable. ?It does feel like a cartel but it?s in the interest of governments to ensure that memory is not manufactured at a loss,? he said.
Andrew Mackenzie, a director at distributor Datrontech, said: ?There is a slow trend upwards in price and we?re expecting that to continue upwards in the next two weeks.? He said news of a reference price was expected shortly.
But Richard Gordon, an analyst at market research company Dataquest, said there were indications memory prices could continue to fall.
?We expect to see a continued decline in Dram pricing,? he said. ?Whether Japanese or US companies follow suit [in restricting supplies] is not clear yet.? He said Dataquest tracked the spot market from the US and supplies of Korean memory had dried up.
Stanley said Dane-Elec expected the European Union to impose anti-dumping tariffs which would further stabilise prices.
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