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China Hardware

Fire At Hynix FAB May Bump DRAM Prices 77

Posted by Soulskill
from the new-business-model dept.
Lucas123 writes "A fire that engulfed portions of a major Hynix memory FAB in Wuxi, China earlier today did not do as much damage as reports originally claimed and the company said it expects to be back in production soon. According to a Hynix statement, the fire occurred during equipment installation at around 16:50 Korean time and it was extinguished in under two hours. The company said while published photos showed the FAB facility surrounded by smoke and engulfed in flames, 'the damage is not as severe as it seems as the smoke created was because the fire was concentrated in the air purification facilities that are linked to the rooftop of the fab.' The company also said that there is no material damage to the fab equipment in the clean room, and Hynix expects to resume operations in a short time period, so overall production and supply volume should not be 'materially affected.' Even so, the spot price of DRAM is expected to leap as a result of the news."
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Fire At Hynix FAB May Bump DRAM Prices

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  • by Russ1642 (1087959) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @02:06PM (#44758711)

    What does it stand for?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Fire Atop Building

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      FAB is not an acronym it is a short form. It means Fabrication Plant. It is the place where silicon chips are manufactured.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiconductor_device_fabrication

      "The entire manufacturing process, from start to packaged chips ready for shipment, takes six to eight weeks and is performed in highly specialized facilities referred to as fabs."

      • by Russ1642 (1087959)

        Abbreviations aren't written in all-caps.

        • by idontgno (624372)

          I'm sorry. I may be misunderstanding... but... are you making a comment on the assumption that anything Slashdot submitters or editors does may be remotely appropriate from a grammatical, spelling, punctuation, or orthographic basis?

          In other words, you're assuming the use of all upper case was intentional and conveys something significant, and not just stupid Slashdot editing?

          Wow. You must be new here.

    • by BenJeremy (181303)

      Obviously "Fabul-Ass Booty"

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Fabulous Arson Bunny

      A rabbit started it.

    • by GrahamCox (741991) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @02:32PM (#44758989) Homepage
      It's International Rescue's affirmative response when on call. "F.A.B, Virgil!"

      Everyone knows that.
      • by ackthpt (218170)

        It's International Rescue's affirmative response when on call. "F.A.B, Virgil!"

        Everyone knows that.

        +1

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      It stands for FAB Assembly Building
    • by l0ungeb0y (442022)

      Fully Acknowledged and Briefed! Thunderbirds Are Go!

      • Is that really when it meant in Thunderbirds? I thought it was a BS TLA for TV?

        • by l0ungeb0y (442022)

          The show creators admitted they made it up. It was a play on the use of the word "fab" by the mods in Britain in the 60s.
          But that hasn't stopped fans and Wikipedia Editors [wikipedia.org] from concocting their own meaning.

  • Crap ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @02:11PM (#44758751) Homepage

    Anybody who bought memory in 1994/1995 knows about this kind of thing.

    I remember spending $600+ dollars to get 16MB of RAM back in the day, and that was considered a good price back then.

    Of course, cynically I believe companies will latch onto anything which allows them to claim increased scarcity and jack up prices.

    And that there is a spot market for DRAM tells me that, once again, speculative investors are fucking it up for everybody -- kinda like oil, where the price goes up because people believe that other people believe the price will go up, and not for any actual market factors.

    This is why we can't have nice things.

    • Re:Crap ... (Score:4, Funny)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @02:22PM (#44758891) Homepage Journal

      Anybody who bought memory in 1994/1995 knows about this kind of thing.

      I remember spending $600+ dollars to get 16MB of RAM back in the day, and that was considered a good price back then.

      Of course, cynically I believe companies will latch onto anything which allows them to claim increased scarcity and jack up prices.

      And that there is a spot market for DRAM tells me that, once again, speculative investors are fucking it up for everybody -- kinda like oil, where the price goes up because people believe that other people believe the price will go up, and not for any actual market factors.

      This is why we can't have nice things.

      I remember spending $400 on 4K of static ram, 2102 1024x1. Kids these days are spoiled.

      and after we bought the RAM we worked 27 hours a day at the mill to pay for it, ate broken glass for breakfast and lived in a hole in the middle of the lane, but it was a good life ...

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        and after we bought the RAM we worked 27 hours a day at the mill to pay for it, ate broken glass for breakfast and lived in a hole in the middle of the lane, but it was a good life ...

        Luxury! [phespirit.info] We used to dream of working in the mill ...

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        I think the 16k RAM pack for the ZX81 was about $100 in early 80s money.

        Which is about what I paid for 16GB earlier this year.

    • Remember when Samsung [nbcnews.com], Elpida, Micron, Mosel, Infineon, Hynix, Vitelic and NEC [softpedia.com] were sued for a total of $263 million dollars for price fixing? It wasn't the first and it won't be the last.
    • by DarthVain (724186)

      I recently built a new computer (this week!), and found my invoice for my last one.

      I think I paid close to 200$ for 2GB. I believe a couple months later it cost half of that. This was back at the beginning of 2007 I believe.

      I just bought 16GB for 135$. I was sort of bitchy about it, however when put into perspective... However it has gone up a bit for whatever reason, 6 months ago 16GB would have cost about 100$.

  • by BenJeremy (181303) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @02:16PM (#44758823)

    Anybody else remember when the Sumitomo epoxy resin plant went up in the early 90s? RAM prices TRIPLED OVER NIGHT and remained high for the next two years, even though chip manufacturers had 6~10 months of the product stockpiled, Sumitomo had 6~8 months worth stockpiled (and in fact, weren't producing for that reason at the time), and several other chemical companies could have been up and running to produce the resin (which sold for $6/lb and THAT price never changed).

    In the end, the plant came back up ahead of schedule, and nobody else jumped in because at $6/lb, it simply wasn't worth it to make the stuff, which was use not only in RAM chips, but a lot of other chip packages as well (oddly, none of those other chips went up in price).

    In short, the price jump was artificial, had nothing to do with supply and demand, but simply companies taking advantage of news to increase profit margins. ....the Thai floods from a couple of years ago are another example, though those floods did at least have a small impact on supplies (though again, the prices for platter drives remain unreasonably high)

    • by eulernet (1132389)

      It's the same pattern every year, beginning september and ending january.

      It has everything to do with demand, since the demand increases because of the end of year gifts.

      Last year, it was the hard-disks producers, if I remember correctly.
      This time, it's RAM.
      Next year, it'll be processors.

      • by wagnerrp (1305589)
        RAM has already been up all year. It's currently about double the price I paid for it in March.
        • A high-volume system vendor locally told me that there have been a bunch of companies hoarding RAM all year, which is not helping the prices. Same's happening with enterpriseish SSDs (with Amazon getting the blame most frequently, it's believed for AWS rather than retail). Said vendor is using his own hoard of cheaply-bought ram to score contract wins, since he doesn't need to cover the current inflated prices.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      Well price isn't driven by cost, but by supply and demand. When a company needs a new laptop because they have a new employee who'll otherwise be twiddling their thumbs it'd take one helluva price hike to make them not buy one and look for a refurb/second hand laptop instead. What's the cost to Google if they have to close YouTube for new uploads and say "sorry, out of HDD space" do you think that's going to happen? At the first whiff of a shortage people go crazy and overbuy, which causes an actual shortag

    • In a commodities market, retailers must base prices on their (anticipated) price to replenish their stock, not what their current inventory cost them. Those that don't quickly go broke.
  • by etash (1907284) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @02:17PM (#44758833)
    Dear customers, the current rather low DRAM prices are not enough for our greed. Therefore they need to be higher. Of course we can't just out of the blue do that, hence we are doing this false flag operation to provide a plausible excuse for the artificial scarcity which will lead at least temporarily to higher prices.

    Sincerely ( pun intended ) yours,

    CEO of Hynix
    Chun Sun Chan.

    /tinfoil hat off.
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Right ... Except they are basically saying they'll be back at full production levels ... tomorrow or the day after.

      Just because slashdot has a retarded sensationalizing title doesn't mean its OMFGSCARY!@%!@%. Neither the summary or the article or the news give any indication that production will be hindered at all.

    • There was a lawsuit related to the collusion after the epoxy fire. Some of the manufactures may remember that and avoid collusion this time arround, but look instead to fill the void in a competitive fashion since Windows 8 has not been selling well. Intel chips are selling slower, so memory to support them are in lower amouts too. Anyone with surplus inventory can make a mess of attempted collusion by selling surplus capacity and inventory. Raise prices at your own risk. Some price pressure may show,

  • this is the opposite of a fire sale, right?
  • ...a repeat from 1992.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @03:06PM (#44759373)

    The main question is whether they had to cut power to the manufacturing equipment to fight the fire. If not, the would easily be back up and running in two weeks if the equipment was on but idle.

    But if power got cut, even if the equipment wasn't damaged, all of it will need to be brought up, reinitialized, and re-qualified, a process that will most likely take days for each piece of equipment. The tolerances for semiconductor equipment are so tight (not only for pattern geometries, but also for things like high vac, chemical flow rate, temperature (try less than half a degree F variation across all 151 individual heating elements) that it takes a lot of time, effort, and expertise to hone things in just right. Expect 2-3 months for requal if that's the case.

    • by EmagGeek (574360)

      Just some questions about your post.

      1) What is "tight" tolerance. I've heard of "high tolerance" and "low tolerance," but not "tight" tolerance. What does that mean?

      2) What is a "degree F?"

    • by Pinhedd (1661735)

      I would expect that to be the case. Even if the clean room wasn't affected by physical damage, the air purification system was flooded with smoke, not to mention the heat and debris released by the fire.

  • the damage is not as severe as it seems as the smoke created was because the fire was concentrated in the air purification facilities that are linked to the rooftop of the fab

    Heck, filling the building with smoke might even *improve* the quality of the air for the workers in those facilities!

  • I haven't followed the manufacturing trends of the leading memory makers for a while now, hence my question: is this Hynix' only fab? Do they have others - in Korea, Taiwan, US, Philippines, et al?
  • I was wondering if anyone was injured. Since the summary didn't mention it I had to RTFA:

    We are still investigating the extent of damage, however there was no human casualty with only one minor injury.

    I would think this would be an important part of reporting about a fire.

  • maybe it's the lack of sleep, but things seem to be flying over my head today.
  • At least one of those photos is a fake. Well, not fake, but not the Hynix plant burning. The best photo is actually a picture of Beijing's CCTV headquarters burning in 2009. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-02/09/content_10790640.htm [xinhuanet.com]
  • Just like gasoline, RAM prices leap up at rapid rates on the most tangential of bullshit news, but only lowers at the same rate of the most tepid bunny slope. Just like calculus, all the action is under the curve.

"If value corrupts then absolute value corrupts absolutely."

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