Memory chipmakers fined for price fixing

The European Commission has fined nine microchip manufacturers a combined total of €331 million for colluding to fix prices a decade ago.

The EC said that between 1998 and 2002, the companies built “a network of contacts and sharing of secret information … through which they coordinated the price levels and quotations” for dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips.
The biggest fine of €146 million went to Korean electronics giant Samsung. The other companies implicated were Hynix, Infineon, NEC, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Elpida and Nanya.

The price fixing arrangement was revealed when a tenth company involved, US-based Micron, blew the whistle.

The cost of memory chips can have an influence over systems design. This week, for example, Michael Dell said that the current high price of DRAM chips has prompted his company to adjust the technical specifications of its PCs and servers.

Meanwhile, the falling price of Flash memory chips is giving rise to faster, smaller and more reliable storage systems.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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