RAM use rises thanks to Vista, falling prices

DRAM installed in PCs has increase from 772MB last year to 1,180MB this year

Microsoft's memory-hungry Vista operating system -- along with falling DRAM prices -- is boosting semiconductor sales.

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) reported this week that worldwide sales of semiconductors hit US$20.3 billion in May -- 2.4 percent higher than the US$19.8 billion sold in the same month a year ago.

The trade association, citing figures from one of its members, Micron Technology, said the average amount of DRAM installed in PCs has increase from 772MB last year to 1,180MB this year.

In an interview, Kevin Kilback, a senior marketing manager at Micron, said DRAM price drops have allowed PC makers to increase the amount of memory without adding cost. Last week, Micron said that for the quarter ending May 31, DRAM prices had declined approximately 35 percent.

Windows Vista is also a factor in driving up memory usage, said Kilback. "Vista, unlike past operating system revisions, really takes advantage of more memory," he said.

The amount of DRAM going into PCs is expected to increase next year to about 1.5GB. "That's basically driven by Vista," said Kilback.

Although buyers can still find systems with 512MB of system memory, many PC vendors are recommending 2GB for use with the OS.

The semiconductor market is also being helped by NAND flash memory, which is used in devices such as flash drives. The SIA cited cell phone demands, in particular, as their multimedia capacity continues to increase demand.

"Despite severe price pressures on DRAMs and NAND flash, total sales of semiconductors for the first five months of 2007 increased by 3.1 percent from the same period of 2006," said George Scalise, SIA president, in a statement.

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Patrick Thibodeau

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