Report: Toshiba, Elpida ramping capex again

January 4, 2010 – Toshiba and Elpida Memory are opening their wallets again to increase capacity as demand rises, and also keep pace with market-leading Samsung, according to a local report.

No.2 maker NAND flash memory Toshiba plans to spend about ¥100B (US $1.1B) for new equipment early next year at a plant in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture (partner SanDisk will pitch in about ¥50B/$546M), to boost capacity by about 40%, the paper reports. It also reversed a 30% output reduction at the Yokkaichi plant in July.

Elpida, meanwhile, plans to invest about ¥60B ($655M) in the next fiscal year (vs. initial plans of ¥40B/$437M) at its DRAM plant in Hiroshima, upgrading more than half of its 65nm production lines (which account for 80% of production at the plant) to 45nm, which will more than double the DRAM chip yield/wafer and raise shipment volumes by around 30%, according to the paper.

The two firms had been forced to shelve expansion plans last year — Elpida froze plans for a new site in Suzhou, China, and Toshiba put the brakes on two new fab projects in Japan. But DRAM demand has vaulted in the past few months (and prices have tripled since the start of the year), thanks in part to the introduction of the new Windows 7 operating system. And NAND flash has also turned around with demand from makers of mobile phones, solid-state drives, and portable digital devices, the paper notes.


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