updated 11:25 am EDT, Wed May 19, 2010
EU says Samsung and others kept prices high
The European Union today fined a collective of memory producers 331.3 million euros (about $404.4 million) for price fixing. Electronics giants Hitachi, Mitsubishi, NEC, Samsung and Toshiba as well as Elpida, Hynix, Infineon and Nanya admitted they artificially kept RAM prices high between at least 1998 and 2002 by secretly coordinating pricing between each other. Samsung faces the largest fine and will pay 145.7 million euros ($177.8 million), but Infineon will also pay a large 56.7 million euros ($69.2 million) for its involvement.
Micron, which now works closely with Intel, was also involved in price fixing but escaped any fines by having originally reported the illegal pact. Confessions by the group dropped the fines they would otherwise have paid by 20 percent for Samsung and exactly half for Infineon.
Prices on RAM have fallen rapidly in the past several years thanks to more demanding apps and operating systems, especially platforms with 64-bit memory addressing like Windows Vista and Mac OS X Leopard that could benefit from more than 4GB of RAM.