updated 08:40 am EDT, Fri August 3, 2007
Apple and Hynix Flash
Manufacturing problems with flash memory for iPods and iPhones may have triggered an emergency switch in suppliers from Hynix to Samsung to help cover supplies for the holiday season, say sources from memory producers in southeast Asia. Hynix is said to have encountered problems producing its latest multi-level cell (MLC) flash storage due to the combination of the denser, more complex memory format and a very small 60 nanometer process, forcing Apple to consider Samsung as an alternative. The problems began in June and could persist until September, the sources claimed.
Hynix, however, has partially denied the allegations. Problems encountered with the 60nm MLC memory were real but have already been resolved, the company said, also noting that it has had no trouble supplying Apple with the parts it needed and that no orders had been lost to Samsung.
No explanation has been given as to whether the MLC was for current or future Apple devices, but Hynix has explained that the more advanced storage would dominate its production and would climb as high as 90 percent by the end of the summer and that the majority of its flash would be newer 8 gigabit chips rather than 4 gigabit models. A smaller 57 nanometer process, which would allow more memory per chip, was also slated to begin production during the summer, but its capacity has not been revealed.
Demands by Apple for flash memory have reportedly caused significant problems in Asia regardless of technical difficulties, as the iPod maker could consume as much as 25 percent of all NAND flash produced in the second half of the year and may unintentionally force prices upwards as companies try to cool demand with higher costs.