RAM shortage looms

It is starting to look like the IT industry will face a serious RAM chip shortage.

Despite the fact that Samsung spent about $24 billion in the past two years beefing up the world’s biggest maker of memory chips to meet demand, there is still not enough capacity.

The problem is that even with the downturn, there are still shedloads of smartphones and other mobile toys that need piles of mobile DRAM.

As an indication how bad things are getting, Samsung is looking at sourcing some of its chips from Hynix for the first time.

Hynix is probably relieved as Apple, which was among its biggest customers, has been pulling back lately.

Bloomberg warned that there is fast becoming a supply squeeze for all memory chips for mobile devices and things are only going to get worse in the second half of the year when the vendors start pushing their latest smartphones.

Samsung is to release a new smartphone using its own Tizen operating system and an updated version of the Galaxy Note device. Apple usually releases details of a new handset.

What is particularly annoying is that the rising demand for mobile chips follows a glut in production of the type of DRAM used in personal computers – that saw prices slump and drove some producers to the wall.

Between 2008 and 2012 Hynix, Micron, Nanya, Powerchip and other Samsung rivals lost a combined $21 billion.

Some Taiwanese makers quit the business and Elpida was forced to seek protection from creditors before Micron agreed to buy it last year.

All the indicators were predicting that things would slow down even further, so this sudden shortage has caught everyone on the hop.

Benchmark 2Gb, 1333Mhz DRAM chips have more than doubled to $1.69 since the end of November, according to TrendForce Corp.’s DRAMeXchange.