updated 02:05 pm EDT, Mon September 10, 2007
Apple NOR Flash Squeeze
Demand for Apple products could be preventing mainboard makers from getting the flash memory they need for business, says a report from anonymous industry sources in Taiwan. Two higher-profile manufacturers of NOR flash memory, Spansion and SST, are said to have had their entire flash memory capacities filled with orders from Apple. Factories from Macronix and Winbond that are set to make the chips themselves will run at peak levels for "months" as a result, according to the claims. No definite end to the production increase is in sight and is expected to benefit companies that have recently increased their production levels, such as Macronix.
Unlike past reports, the purported insiders would not say which products had triggered the spike in NOR flash demand, though the information suggests general Apple products rather than a specific iPhone, iPod, or Mac model. NOR flash is typically much slower but more random than the NAND memory used for storage in portable media players and memory cards, making it suitable for firmware and other semi-permanent memory that needs only occasional rewrites.
Apple has also reportedly triggered a similar problem with NAND memory, using as much as one quarter of all stock for the iPhone as the now confirmed upgraded iPod nano, shuffle, and touch media players.