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Apple gobbles world's flash memory

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The world is running out of flash memory, and it's all Apple's fault.

Citing those always-voluble "industry sources," the market-watchers at DigiTimes reported on Monday that Taiwanese memory-module manufacturers face a serious shortage of NAND flash chips.

The reason is simple: Apple is buying them up. According to DigiTimes, Samsung has told memory-module makers that it'll cut in half its shipments to them this month, Micron is cutting them off entirely, and Toshiba and Hynix are putting Apple at the top of their shipping list and will only provide a limited number of NAND chips to the usually more-expensive and always volatile spot market.

Apple's appetite for NAND is voracious. Last week it bumped up of the capacities of its top-end iPod touches to 32GB and 64GB, and in June it doubled the flash memory in its most capacious iPhone to 32GB.

As might be expected, the shortage is driving up prices for NAND chips on the spot market. On Monday, for example, DRAMeXchange listed top prices for 64Gb 8Gx8 MLCs at $16.35 and 32Gb at $8.50, a rise of 0.18 and 0.14 per cent in a single trading session.

Just wait until the ChiPhone is launched, possibly later this year, when Apple will need even more NAND chips to feed its flash hunger. ®

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