Memory manufacturers have agreed a reference price to ensure they continue to make money on memory.
The first quarter price for 4x4 chips will be $9.50, which multiplies up to $80 for a 16Mbit piece, according to sources close to the major semiconductor companies. This represents a price increase of 20 to 25 per cent.
This figure is the price given by the manufacturers to customers who deal in large volumes. Others will have to pay extra as middle-men and other brokers add their margins to the base price.
At the same time, Toshiba has cut production of its 16Mbit memory chips, following the lead of the Korean companies. It will increase production of its 64Mbit chips.
But opinions differ on whether the price rises seen over the past four weeks will continue. Alan Stanley, MD 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 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 that 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.
A decision by EU commissioners this week is likely to mean more memory price rises throughout this spring.
A 1993 EU agreement on anti-dumping tariffs expires on 10 March, and member countries are likely to ask for a renewal of the tariffs on semiconductors, according to a senior official at the DTI.
Nima Green asks what is driving public cloud uptake in Germany
In the wake of yet another lawsuit involving Oracle, we run through 10 of the vendor's biggest court battles
CEO Chuck Robbins says Cisco will use the Catalyst 9000 product range as a template for future launches
Today saw 14 of the UK IT channel's biggest hitters come together to determine the winners of CRN's WiC awards. But what does being a WiC judge actually involve? Doug Woodburn reports