Bits & Bytes
IT'S THE YEAR OF THE RAM
GROWTH IN UNIT SHIPMENTS OF PCs WILL BE SOMEWHAT slower this year than last, predicts market researcher Dataquest Inc. in San Jose, Calif. But that shouldn't prevent makers of memory chips from enjoying strong shipment growth at least through the first half of the year. Indeed, Dataquest forecasts a seller's market in memory. PC shipments, it reckons, will hit 54 million units worldwide, up 16% from last year--but short of 1994's 17% jump.
Helping chipmakers will be shipments of an estimated 20 million machines equipped with Intel's Pentium microprocessor, which are sure to consume much more memory than 486-class units. Pentium PCs take at least 8 megabytes of main memory, compared with the 4 megabytes shipped with many 486 machines. Pentium machines also use twice as many high-speed, or cache, memory chips as 486 designs. And to use Microsoft's new Windows 95 operating system, many customers will install at least 16 megabytes of main memory.
Who benefits? Most likely the same Asian memory-chip makers who led the market in 1994 (table). But such U.S. companies as Integrated Device Technology, Micron Technology, and Alliance Semiconductor stand to do particularly well with certain low-voltage chips, which will be in strong demand for use in Pentium-based notebook computers.EDITED BY JOHN W. VERITY