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Japan’s Quake Causes Memory Prices To Sky Rocket!

The prices for DRAM and NAND flash memory chips sky rocketed on Monday as a result of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami. The reason for this? Markets display concerns over fabrication plant shutdowns, power outages, and supply chain shortages. Prices for DRAM shot up by as much as 7.5%, while prices for NAND flash memory rose as much as 20.5%, according to DRAMeXchange.

With Japan producing 35.7% of the world’s NAND flash production and 13.6% of DRAM, we are likely to see a rise in Japanese memory sold in the U.S.

Shin-Etsu Semiconductor and SUMCO have shut down production in their silicon wafer fabrication facilities due to equipment damage and power outages. Shin-Etsu Semiconductor is a major silicon wafer supplier to memory manufacturers Elpida and Toshiba.


According to DRAMeXchange, Toshiba experienced a “minor setback”, but with the large impact of material supply and traffic, it is difficult to measure the true consequences the quake had.
TrendForce noted continuous problems with the nuclear power plants(e.g. The shutdown of Fukushima 1, Japan’s primary plant.) “The residents near Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant have been evacuated. Additionally, Unit #1 and Unit #3 of the plant have been infused with Boric acid, so these two units are now completely obsolete,” TrendForce said. 

“The power supply of northeastern Japan has become a huge issue,” TrendForce stated. “As a result, the supply for silicon wafer will drop significantly, which will cause the global semiconductor players outside of Japan to compete for material.”

NAND flash memory makers Samsung and Hynix have stopped providing price information, with Samsung being the world’s largest supplier of NAND flash chips. TrendForce also noted that the spot price for NAND flash and DRAM in China has also started increasing because the expected supply is likely to be affected.

Toshiba and SanDisk’s two major fabrication facilities, Fab 3 and Fab 4, are 800 miles away from the earthquake’s epicenter, and production was still “delicate.” Based on SanDisk’s official statement, production was stopped temporarily and no employees were hurt in the quake.

Photo Courtesy of Soran Yan