updated 07:45 am EDT, Thu April 9, 2009
Apple 100m Flash Order
Apple is causing a supply crunch due to a large, mystery order for NAND flash memory, leaks from "downstream suppliers" say. DigiTimes hears that the company has placed an order for 100 million 8Gb (1GB) chips from Samsung and is reportedly spurring a supply shortage. Combined with orders from Nokia and Sony, the demand may leave little for other customers until "at least" the end of May.
What purpose the memory has at Apple isn't specified and isn't immediately evident. On high-end devices like the iPhone and iPod touch, Apple typically uses much higher-density storage due to space and capacity constraints. Simultaneously, the new iPod shuffle is also believed to be using one chip to reach its 4GB capacity. iPod nanos typically use multiple chips that may fit the described order, though a likely storage increase with the next update may call this into question.
It's also unclear whether these are complete chip packages, which often stack layers of memory, or simply individual memory chips themselves.
Regardless of use, the order suggests a significant product ramp up for a low-cost device being shipped in large numbers during the second half of the year. Apple and other companies regularly make bulk orders for memory months ahead of when they expect to use it.