|Mib - Mittwoch, 5. Januar 2000 - 15:29|
| http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/000104/nv_sandisk_1.html |
Tuesday January 4, 6:31 pm Eastern Time
Company Press Release
ADVISORY/Panasonic, SanDisk and Toshiba to Make Announcement
Panasonic SanDisk Toshiba
2 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 6, 2000
Room N-232, North Hall
Las Vegas Convention Center
Panasonic, SanDisk and Toshiba will make a significant announcement regarding the Secure Digital (SD) Memory Card and consumer electronics products.
The SD flash memory card, which can store audio, video, images and data, is targeted for widespread use in digital internet music players, cellular phones, digital cameras, handheld
computers, video cameras and other digital consumer electronics products. The three companies introduced the SD card in August 1999 with the goal of making the card an
Questions: Bob Goligoski, SanDisk PR Dept. 408/542-0463 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Mib - Donnerstag, 6. Januar 2000 - 18:18|
| SEHR WICHTIG UND POSITIV FUER SANDISK!!! |
Thursday January 6, 10:04 am Eastern Time
Company Press Release
SanDisk to Supply MultiMediaCards for Casio's New Internet 'Wrist Watch'
MultiMediaCard Built Into World's First Wrist-Type Wearable MP3 Player
LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 6, 2000--SanDisk Corporation (Nasdaq:SNDK - news) announced today that it will supply Casio, Inc. with its stamp-size
MultiMediaCard for storage of MP3 audio in the WMP - 1V Wrist Audio Player, the world's first wrist-type wearable MP3 player.
The wrist player was introduced today at the CES trade show.
The Wrist Audio Player features a built-in 16MB (megabyte) flash memory MultiMediaCard that enables the highly portable device to store and play up to 66 minutes of recorded
sound and music. The MultiMediaCard, which SanDisk co-invented, is currently available in 8, 16 and 32MB capacities with 64MB available in 2000.
Casio, a widely-recognized innovator in consumer electronics products, advances the state of the art in ``wrist data devices'' with its Wrist Audio Player. The Wrist Audio Player
enables consumers to download MP3 format files to the device from the Internet or from their favorite music CDs, created using commercially available MP3 file creation software.
Using the included stereo earphones, the Wrist Audio Player now makes high-fidelity digital music available just about anywhere and anytime.
``We are proud that an industry leader such as Casio has selected SanDisk's MultiMediaCard for use in the WMP-1V Wrist Audio Player,'' said Nelson Chan, senior vice
president of marketing at SanDisk. ``Innovative products, such as Casio's Wrist Audio Player, clearly demonstrate how our advanced flash memory solutions are making a new
generation of ultra-portable consumer electronic products possible. With some 40 announced Internet music players already using the MultiMediaCard for audio storage, we
believe that the MultiMediaCard has emerged as the standard music storage card in the fast growing digital audio market.''
Weighing only 70 grams, the Wrist Audio Player enables users to store approximately 33 minutes of CD-quality sound, 44 minutes of near CD-quality sound, or 66 minutes of
FM broadcast-quality sound on the built-in MultiMediaCard. In addition, a high-speed built-in USB interface enables users to download a four minute audio track in as little as 70
The Wrist Audio Player leverages the MultiMediaCard's low-power design enabling users to enjoy approximately four hours of continuous playback when the device's
rechargeable lithium-ion battery is fully charged. Other advanced features include a Flashback Title display that scrolls through song titles and artists, as well as Animated Motion
Graphic characters that move in one of 10 different styles according to the song being played.
SanDisk's MultiMediaCard relies on solid-state memory to deliver rugged and reliable performance to low power, battery-operated devices. With no moving parts, the
MultiMediaCard ensures that music players never skip and that sound quality retains its original fidelity with repeated play and re-records. The memory card continues to be
rapidly adopted by applications in markets as diverse as smart phones, digital video, industrial handheld computing and Internet music players.
SanDisk Corporation, the world's largest supplier of flash data storage products, designs, manufactures and markets industry-standard, solid-state data, digital imaging and audio
storage products using its patented, high density flash memory and controller technology. SanDisk is based in Sunnyvale, CA.
The matters discussed in this news release contain forward looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties as described under the caption ``Factors That May
Affect Future Results'' in the company's annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company
assumes no obligation to update the information in this release.
Note to Editors: All trade names are either registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective holders. SanDisk's web site/home page address: http://www.sandisk.com
Bob Goligoski, 408/542-0463
Nelson Chan, 408/542-0456
|Stw - Donnerstag, 6. Januar 2000 - 21:58|
| Warum ist dieser Deal so außerordentlich wichtig für Sandisk ? Geht es um ein besonders großes Auftragsvolumen oder den Einstieg in einen neuen MArkt ? ICh habe etwas Schwierigkeiten, diese NEws einzuordnen. |
|Mib - Freitag, 7. Januar 2000 - 03:23|
| wesentlich ist hier, dass Sandisk mit seinen flash memory cards jetzt definitiv den Einstieg in das Geschaeft mit den MP3 players geschafft hat. Es wird zwar noch etwas dauern bis die Dinger so verbreitet sind wie der walkman, aber hier in USA sind sie schon jetzt ein ganz heisses Thema und werden eine art Statussymbol. Aehnlich wie bei den digitalen Kameras, die im US Weihnachtsgeschaeft DER Renner waren, koennten die MP3 player ein echter Massenartikel werden, der die Nachfrage nach flash memory cards noch zusaetzlich ankurbeln wuerde. Sandisk braucht natuerlich solche neuen maerkte, um die vor allem im Vergleich zu ilicon Storage, SSTI, hohe Bewertung aufrecht zu erhalten. Schade, das diese guten news und die wohl guten Quartalszahlen in einso schlechtes Boersenumfeld fallen. sieht alles nicht gut aus, vor allem nach der katastrophalen Gewinnwarnung von Lucent. Wenn jetzt auch Cisco keine guten Zahlen liefert, dann gehen bei den high-techs erstmal voellig die Lichter aus. Allerdings hat Nortel bereits gemeldet, sie haetten keine Probleme, die Erwartungen zu erfuellen, - das gibt etwas Hoffnung. Aber der morgige Freitag wird nochmal schlimm! |
|Mib - Dienstag, 18. Januar 2000 - 00:31|
| http://www.techweb.com/se/directlink.cgi?EBN20000110S0053 |
January 10, 2000, Issue: 1193
Section: Technology Focus: Flash memory
Playing A Consumer Hand -- Convenience, cost, portability, and effectively
unlimited storage capacity are driving demand for flash cards.
A hot consumer-electronics market is upping the ante for flash-card vendors that supply the portable
digital medium that is replacing photographic film and audio tape.
Digital-still cameras, MP3 music players, notebook computers, PDAs, and voice recorders are
today's main targets for flash-memory cards. Poised to join them-and the impetus behind a new
breed of small-format memory cards-are automotive navigation aids; digital electronic books;
language translators; set-top boxes; and enhanced cell phones that store text, like e-mail or phone
numbers, or double as music players.
While ROM is a suitable, low-cost technology for storing pre-recorded music and images, most
consumer devices (such as those that download data from the Internet) need the writeable,
nonvolatile-storage capability of flash.
Consumer applications lend themselves to high-density, serially accessed NAND-type flash rather
than lower-density, random-accessed NOR flash, which is better suited for code storage in
embedded-processor systems. NAND is used almost exclusively in such data-storage applications
as voice, photos, and music-and therefore in flash cards. And while NOR sales continue to dominate
the flash market, current and predicted NAND sales reflect the coming consumer tsunami.
Convenience, cost, portability, and effectively unlimited storage capacity are the drivers for flash
cards. Acting like a small floppy disk-the latest ones are the size of a stick of gum or a large postage
stamp-flash cards offer an easy way to transfer stored images from a digital camera to a PC for
display or transmission over the Internet. Alternatively, a card might bypass the PC altogether,
slipping directly into a printer to yield an instant contact sheet. In the case of MP3 audio players,
digital music is downloaded from a PC into a card, which then plugs into a portable player.
Some cameras and players have flash memory built in. But this adds to the product's cost and limits
storage capacity unless there's also a slot for flash cards. Moreover, without a card to carry the data,
consumers must connect their players or cameras to the PC with cables for what can be a lengthy
data transfer session.
To further simplify transfers, one company, SmartDisk Corp., Naples, Fla., sells a product called
FlashPath that lets PC owners submit flash data through a PC's standard 3.5-in. floppy-disk drive.
FlashPath accepts a flash card and then plugs into the disk drive.
However, CompactFlash cards, which make up the majority of consumer-oriented flash cards sold
today, are too big for FlashPath's approach.
As an alternative to the floppy-disk adapter, CompactFlash-card vendor Lexar Media Inc., Fremont,
Calif., recently rolled out cards with a USB interface. Common to new PCs and Apple computers,
USB opens a 1-Mbyte/s channel, compared with 28.8 Kbytes/s for serial ports and 500 Kbytes/s
for parallel ports.
In addition to CompactFlash, the consumer flash-card market includes MediaStik, Memory Stick,
Multi-MediaCard, and SmartMedia brands. Plus, a Secure Digital memory card is in the works to
address emerging copy-protection and content-purchasing schemes, as well as improve memory
density and the data transfer rate over some earlier cards.
PCMCIA, or PC, Cards and CompactFlash Type II cards, which can also serve as removable flash
modules, are used mostly in industrial and telecommunications systems because the form factor is
too costly for the price-sensitive consumer market.
Differentiating features include memory density; size and ruggedness; power consumption; copy
protection; compatibility with future flash chips; and cost, including licensing expenses.
Although tomorrow's market will allow several card formats, some cards in play today will likely fall
The granddaddy of today's consumer flash cards, and the most widely used, is the CompactFlash
format. Introduced in 1994 by SanDisk Corp., Sunnyvale, Calif., and licensed royalty-free by the
more than 100-member CompactFlash Association, the card, at 36 x 42 x 3.3 mm, is about the size
of a matchbook.
CompactFlash densities range from 8 to 192 Mbytes, though not all vendors offer all sizes. The
50-pin interface on the flash card presents an industry-standard ATA (hard disk) interface to the
host, effected by an on-board controller chip.
Because CompactFlash cards are a popular choice for digital cameras, some flash vendors
distinguish their products by write speed, which determines how quickly a camera can take shots in
succession. Because photographers want the fast response of film cameras even as image resolution
climbs into the millions of pixels, "click-to-click" time has become the focus of competitive,
contentious comparisons, although performance differences among cameras confounds true
Such competition led to a court battle between SanDisk and Lexar over advertised claims. Legal
tussles notwithstanding, Silicon Storage Technology Inc., Sunnyvale, a flash-chip maker and
relatively new player in CompactFlash, claims its card, touting a 1.4-Mbyte/s sustained write speed,
The key to high speed is what SST's product marketing manager Samuel Nak-himovsky calls a
"performance formula" that is based largely on the design of the ATA controller. The first part of
that formula is a large dual-port SRAM buffer inside the ATA controller, "so you can write to the
buffer at the same time that the buffer is writing to flash," Nakhimovsky said.
Also, a direct-memory-access channel carries data from the buffer to the flash, eliminating controller
overhead, while an intelligent-flash file system writes data files to flash memory "in a sequence that
gives the best performance," he added. Other features of SST's cards include a power-management
unit and dynamic-memory management.
In its most common application, as a replacement for film, flash cards don't need a copy-protection
scheme. But for downloading commercial music, copy protection is essential, at least to the music
industry. To meet music-industry demands, each CompactFlash card carries its own serial
identification number that works in compliance with so-called category one protection as defined by
the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI).
That ID number is used by software to encrypt the music data as it is downloaded from a PC-and in
the future from a kiosk-to the card. To hear the music, software in the player uses the card's ID to
decrypt the data. Although the data can also be copied to another card or to a hard disk, it cannot be
played as intended because the ID needed to decode it is missing.
Ruggedness is an issue raised by some CompactFlash card vendors that say strength is on their
side. They cite the consumer's need for a sturdy construction, while taking shots at the wafer-like
thinness and exposed contacts of competitive SmartMedia cards or the newer bendable sticks.
"In the consumer space, you need to be bulletproof," said Chuck Schouw, president and chief
executive of Newark, Calif.-based M-Systems Inc., which sells CompactFlash and PCMCIA cards,
although its main business is its DiskOnChip product, which packs up to 288 Mbytes in a 32-pin
DIP or TSOP.
For others, durability is a non-issue. "Rigidity is probably not much of a factor," said Narayan
Purohit, an assistant vice president at the memory division of Mitsubishi Electronics America Inc.,
Sunnyvale, which sells CompactFlash cards.
There's no validity to the arguments attacking sturdiness, contends Zareh Samurkashian, associate
director of nonvolatile memory at Samsung Semiconductor Inc., San Jose. The contacts on the
SmartMedia card, which Samsung co-invented with Japan's Toshiba Corp., can withstand up to
8,000 V of electrostatic discharge, and the package and die are flexible enough "for everyday usage,"
Samurkashian said. These cards spend "most of their time inside a camera or music player-not in
Indeed, behind CompactFlash, SmartMedia cards are the second-largest seller among consumer
flash cards, having been adopted for cameras made by Fuji and Olympus. Measuring 45 x 37 mm,
SmartMedia cards are slightly larger than CompactFlash but, at a height of only 0.76 mm, much
thinner. Memory capacities of SmartMedia cards will reach 64 Mbytes this quarter with the
emergence of 256-Mbit flash chips. In addition, their data-write speeds, at 2.5 Mbytes/s, are among
the fastest. But SmartMedia cards contain two flash die and rely on the host system to supply the
controller. As a result, the actual write speed depends largely on the system.
At the same time, the lack of an onboard controller, though helpful in keeping down a card's cost
and power consumption, has spelled problems for some SmartMedia customers.
According to Jack Peterson, Lexar's vice president of consumer products, thousands of Olympus
cameras that shipped in 1997 and 1998 failed to work with new 16- Mbyte cards, and customers
had to ship back their cameras for upgrades. Perhaps smarting from the experience, Olympus has
rolled out a camera that takes both SmartMedia and CompactFlash cards.
For the sake of audio applications, SmartMedia cards, like CompactFlash cards, carry a unique ID
to thwart unauthorized duplication. Also like CompactFlash, the SmartMedia specification is
controlled by a forum and made available without license fees.
Such fees, required for some new formats like the Memory Stick from Sony Electronics Inc., Park
Ridge, N.J., and the Secure Digital card from Matsushita, SanDisk, and Toshiba, are unpalatable to
customers, Samurkashian said.
Still these newer formats reflect the current trend toward smaller size and a lower pin-count interface
suited for emerging cellular phones, small MP3 players, and other applications. And one format, the
MultiMediaCard, introduced in 1997 by Hitachi, Infineon Technologies, and SanDisk, combines a
small format with license-free distribution.
The MultiMediaCard is 32 x 24 x 1.4 mm-smaller than a large postage stamp but much thicker-and
carries up to 64 Mbytes of flash. A 120-bit ID field meets the SDMI's first-level encryption
Unlike other flash cards, the Multi-MediaCard accepts mask ROM as well as flash memory. The
card was also designed to carry one-time-programmable (OTP) memory, but that option "went by
the boards as prices dropped" for flash, said Jeffry Davis, senior marketing manager at Infineon,
San Jose. Moreover, a fully automated manufacturing process and low-cost seven-pin serial
interface (features drawn from the company's smart-card experience) keep manufacturing costs "in
the dirt range," he said.
ROM versions of the MultiMediaCard offer customers the choice to buy pre-recorded music, said
Davis, noting that consumers who use audio tapes typically choose to spring for the convenience of
a pre-recorded tape rather than record their own music.
A 32-Mbyte ROM card gives 30 to 40 minutes of MP3-quality music, said Davis, and costs well
below the estimated $120 retail cost of a 32-Mbyte flash version. For that reason alone, he added,
the music industry should worry less about finding new and tighter ways to protect its copyrights.
The small chance of that happening has given rise to the Secure Digital memory card, a format that
hopefully will be compatible with the MultiMediaCard but offer levels of greater protection as yet
undefined by the SDMI.
Measuring 32 x 24 mm, the SD card has the same footprint as the MultiMedia-Card, but at 2.1 mm
is slightly thicker, allowing added memory capacity. Also, the addition of two contacts, bringing the
interface to nine pins, gives the SD card a 10-Mbyte/s parallel-write feature. SD cards have yet to
appear, however, so true compatibility with the MultiMediaCard remains more of a goal than a fact.
The Memory Stick from Sony, at 50 x 22 x 3 mm, has shown itself to be a viable contender for
flash-card customers. In true Sony fashion, the company developed the design on its own and
retains sole licensing authority.
More than two dozen companies, including Audi and Volkswagen, have licensed the Memory Stick
technology. Sony has incorporated the Memory Stick into several of its own consumer products,
including its digital video and still cameras, photo printers, audio products, and ultraportable PCs.
Flash capacities for the Memory Stick are up to 64 Mbytes (with higher capacities in development),
and the maximum write speed is 1.5 Mbytes/s across a 10-pin interface that protects the pins by
keeping them recessed. A switch, unique to flash cards, prevents accidental erasure, and SDMI copy
protection is available with so-called Magic Gate Memory Sticks.
In contrast to these handful of flash cards vying for high-capacity, high-end applications is the lone
MediaStik serial flash module from NexFlash Technologies Inc., Santa Clara, Calif. While the 45- x
15-mm configuration is similar to that of Sony's Memory Stick, the MediaStik's main target is the
entry-level VGA-quality camera starting at about $100.
"VGA cameras are highly adequate for most Internet applications, and our capacity range is good
for that," said NexFlash marketing vice president Robin Jigour.
MediaStik memory capacities range from 128 Kbytes to 4 Mbytes, which is commonly the low end
for the other cards. The MediaStik has a 2-in. interface and carries a single-quantity price tag
beginning at only $20. But while the size, capacity, and price of the MediaStick are modest, the
company's ambitions for it are not.
"A large segment of applications need to store data, voice, or images for which our capacity range is
highly adequate, and the hottest one right now is the VGA camera," Jigour said.
-Gil Bassak is a freelance technical journalist based in Ossining, N.Y.
Copyright ® 2000 CMP Media Inc.
|Mib - Samstag, 22. Januar 2000 - 04:17|
| http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/000114/ca_sandisk_1.html |
Friday January 14, 9:00 am Eastern Time
Company Press Release
SanDisk to Report $344 Million One-time Gain in Fiscal Q1
From Taiwan Foundry Investment
SUNNYVALE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 14, 2000--SanDisk Corp. (Nasdaq:SNDK - news) announced today that it will realize a
$344 million pre-tax ($204 million after-tax) gain in its fiscal first quarter ending April 2, 2000 as a result of the merger of United Silicon Inc.
(USIC) with United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), a public company in Taiwan. SanDisk had made a $51 million investment in USIC, a
joint venture semiconductor manufacturing facility headed by UMC in Taiwan.
The gain is based on the share price of UMC at the date of the merger (i.e. NTD 112, or US$3.56) and will be reported in other income. As a
result of the merger, SanDisk will own 111 million UMC shares, or approximately one percent of the combined UMC Group.
All of the UMC shares received by SanDisk are subject to trading restrictions imposed by UMC and the Taiwan Stock Exchange. The trading
restrictions will expire on one-half of the shares six months after the date of the merger. The remaining shares will become available for sale
over a two-year period beginning in January 2002. When the shares are ultimately sold, it is possible that additional gains or losses will be
Eli Harari, SanDisk's President and CEO said, ``The accounting gain that we report today from the merger of USIC with UMC is the icing on
the cake for our original investment. UMC and USIC have surpassed all expectations we had for the production of high quality, advanced
technology flash memory wafers when we made our investment in USIC. As a result of the consolidation, SanDisk will now have greater
access to UMC's other fabs. We have already started to bring up our flash technology at Fab 8F, UMC's newest and most advanced facility.
By mid 2000, we expect to have three UMC 8 inch wafer fabs producing our flash memory wafers.''
SanDisk Corporation, the world's largest supplier of flash data storage products, designs, manufactures and markets industry-standard,
solid-state data, digital imaging and audio storage products using its patented, high density flash memory and controller technology. SanDisk
is based in Sunnyvale.
The matters discussed in this news release contains forward looking statements including our expectation that SanDisk may recognize a gain
or a loss in future periods when the UMC shares are sold due to fluctuations in the market value of the UMC shares. These forward looking
statements are also subject to certain risks and uncertainties as described under the caption ``Factors That May Affect Future Results'' in the
company's annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The
company assumes no obligation to update the information in this release.
SanDisk's web site/home page address: http://www.sandisk.com
|Mib - Samstag, 22. Januar 2000 - 04:18|
| http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/000118/ca_sandisk_1.html |
Tuesday January 18, 10:17 am Eastern Time
Company Press Release
Circuit City Will Sell SanDisk Corp. Flash Memory Cards
and Card Readers
Circuit City Adds More Than 600 Retail Outlets to the 13,000 Plus Retail Outlets Worldwide Already Selling
SUNNYVALE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 18, 2000-- SanDisk Corp. (Nasdaq:SNDK - news) announced today that Circuit City
Stores, Inc., one of the world's largest consumer electronics retail companies, will sell SanDisk-branded flash memory cards and card readers
in its 600 plus retail outlets.
Sales of SanDisk products in Circuit City stores will start immediately.
Circuit City carries many of the newest digital technology products including internet music players, digital cameras, camcorders and handheld
computers -- all products that use flash memory cards to capture and store either data, images or audio. Sandisk will supply Circuit City with
CompactFlash(TM) cards, SmartMedia(TM) cards, MultiMediaCards and ImageMate(TM) card readers.
Ed Moro, SanDisk's director of retail sales, Americas, said, ``With its knowledgeable and professional sales force, we expect that Circuit City
will accelerate the sale of SanDisk products. This agreement with Circuit City is a major endorsement for SanDisk as Circuit City has a strong
reputation for quality products and superb service in the consumer electronics marketplace.''
Circuit City is a leading national retailer of consumer electronics, personal computer, major appliances and entertainment software. With
headquarters in Richmond, Va., Circuit City Stores, Inc. currently operates 570 Circuit City Superstores, 45 mall-based Circuit City Express
stores and 38 CarMax locations, including 32 used-car superstores and 20 new-car franchises.
For more information, go to the Circuit City Web site at http://www.circuitcity.com/ and to the Car Max Web site at http://www.carmax.com/.
SanDisk Corp., the world's largest supplier of flash data storage products, designs, manufactures and markets industry-standard, solid-state
data, digital imaging and audio storage products using its patented, high density flash memory and controller technology. SanDisk is based in
The matters discussed in this news release contain forward looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties as described
under the caption ``Factors That May Affect Future Results'' in the company's annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form
10-Q, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company assumes no obligation to update the information in this release.
|Mib - Samstag, 22. Januar 2000 - 04:22|
| Der juengste Kursanstieg bei SNDK ist vor allem darauf zurueckzufuehren, dass, nachdem die Quartalszahlen der Kokurrenten exzellent waren und belegen, dass und wie sehr der flash memory Markt boomt, vom Marktfuehrer SNDK nun auch herausragende Zahlen erwartet werden (die wohl auch kommen werden). |
ABER: wer vorsichtig ist und SNDK nicht als Langfristinvestment sieht, kann am Tag, an dem die Zahlen kommen, (teil)verkaufen!
|mib - Mittwoch, 3. Mai 2000 - 15:48|
| http://www.briefing.com/intro/i_updown.htm |
Merrill Lynch wiederholt Kaufempfehlung "near-term and long-term buy" fuer SNDK.
|mib - Montag, 8. Mai 2000 - 22:18|
| http://biz.yahoo.com/fo/000508/mu2699.html |
Monday May 8, 2:36 pm Eastern Time
As The Gadget Market Grows, So Does Flash Memory
By Arik Hesseldahl
Electronic gadgets are big business. Consumers are snapping up mobile phones, pagers, PalmPilots, MP3 players and
digital cameras in record numbers.
As many as a 1.2 billion mobile phones will be shipped each year by 2004, according to Cahners In-Stat Group,
Scottsdale, Ariz., up from about 400 million this year. S3 (Nasdaq: SIII - news), which sells the trendy little Diamond
Rio MP3 player, reported a 69% surge in unit sales over the fourth quarter of 1999 and has plans to expand into home
and car audio systems. A recent study by InfoTrends Research Group found that digital cameras will outship film
cameras by 2002 and will exceed 42 million units by 2005. And inside each is a little piece of silicon called flash memory.
Flash memory is a type of semiconductor chip that, unlike the memory found in most PCs, stores information even after the power has been turned off. Enter an
address or appointment into your PalmPilot and it is flash memory that stores the information when you switch off or change the batteries. Ditto for the music files
and pictures in your MP3 player or digital camera.
Flash memory is called that because it allows you to quickly erase and save data in large blocks of several thousand bits at a time, or ``in a flash.'' Conventional
SRAM and DRAM memory data are erased and saved a bit at a time.
Brian Matas, vice president of IC Insights, a semiconductors market research firm in Scottsdale, Ariz., estimated this year's global flash market at $10 billion, an
increase of 119% over the previous year. He expects the market to grow in size to $18.3 billion by 2003.
Unfortunately, there is not enough flash to go around. Semiconductor manufacturers such as Intel (Nasdaq: INTC - news), Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:
AMD - news) and Japan's Fujitsu are among those struggling to a sudden surge in flash demand.
Fujitsu said last Wednesday that it plans to spend $550 million to triple flash manufacturing capacity at its facility in Oregon by 2002. Intel is also expanding its
capacity, pumping $1.5 billion into a Colorado fabrication facility, or ``fab,'' it acquired from Rockwell International for flash production. Intel said it shipped flash
in record numbers last quarter, though it didn't give specific numbers. AMD chief executive William J. ``Jerry'' Sanders III said in a recent speech to shareholders
the company plans to double flash capacity in 2001 and possibly add a third fab to the Japanese facility it co-owns with Fujitsu, which he said could double
capacity yet again in 2002.
Yet in a case straight out of Economics 101, flash prices have stabilized but have not necessarily begun to increase. In response to the increasing shortage,
electronics manufacturers with the holiday gift-buying season in mind have been locking in exclusive long-term deals with flash suppliers. Examples include
mobile phone maker Ericsson's (Nasdaq: ERICY - news) $1.5 billion deal with Intel, and a $400 million deal between AMD and Korea's Samsung. Similar deals
with other flash suppliers are likely to follow. Those who haven't arranged their flash supplies may find themselves running short.
Other semiconductor companies looking to cash in with renewed interest in flash include Japan's Toshiba, STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM - news) and Hitachi
(NYSE: HIT - news), each of which reported more than $100 million in flash business last year, according to Rich Wawrzyniak, analyst at Semico Research, based
in Phoenix, Ariz.
And while flash is just part of the story behind increasing profits at semiconductor giants like Intel and AMD, the upswing in the market is most visible at
pure-play companies like Silicon Storage Technology (Nasdaq: SSTI - news) and SanDisk (Nasdaq: SNDK - news), both based in Sunnyvale, Calif.
Last month SST reported a $9.6 million profit on revenue of $62.3 million, versus a loss of $6.6 million on revenue of $18.3 million in the same quarter a year
ago. Shareholders in SST have ridden the flash shortage to all-time highs--from about $7 per share last July 1 to more than $105 on May 1.
SanDisk, which makes removable flash memory products that are particularly useful in digital cameras, just reported a 148% surge in first-quarter revenue over the
quarter a year ago. Shares in SanDisk started July at $44 per share, climbed to $149 by Feb. 23, when it split 2-for-1 and topped out at $145 on March 27. On
May 4 it closed at $90.50.
Analysts expect the shortage to continue into 2002, after which new manufacturing capacity will begin to come online in 2003 and 2004, eventually pushing the
market toward another likely period of oversupply, Matas said. While IC Insights is forecasting a year-over-year growth rate of about 22%, or $3 billion, in the
flash market between 2001 and 2002, that growth will slow over the following two years to slightly more than 8% ($1.4 billion) in 2003 and to less than 3% ($500
million) in 2004. The semiconductors industry is, after all, a very cyclical business.
``There will be a lot of new capacity coming online, and we expect an overall industry slowdown around then,'' Matas said.
Go to www.forbes.com to see all of our latest stories.