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Fire At Hynix FAB May Bump DRAM Prices

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the new-business-model dept.

China 77

Lucas123 writes "A fire that engulfed portions of a major Hynix memory FAB in Wuxi, China earlier today did not do as much damage as reports originally claimed and the company said it expects to be back in production soon. According to a Hynix statement, the fire occurred during equipment installation at around 16:50 Korean time and it was extinguished in under two hours. The company said while published photos showed the FAB facility surrounded by smoke and engulfed in flames, 'the damage is not as severe as it seems as the smoke created was because the fire was concentrated in the air purification facilities that are linked to the rooftop of the fab.' The company also said that there is no material damage to the fab equipment in the clean room, and Hynix expects to resume operations in a short time period, so overall production and supply volume should not be 'materially affected.' Even so, the spot price of DRAM is expected to leap as a result of the news."

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77 comments

FAB is an acronym? (2)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 8 months ago | (#44758711)

What does it stand for?

Re:FAB is an acronym? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44758777)

Fire Atop Building

BONK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44759085)

uh, BONK [slashdot.org] . Just BONK, like the hollow sound teh editurs heads make when you bonk them together. yeah, yeah, I know "/. always sucked".

Re:FAB is an acronym? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44758781)

It's short for FABulous.

Re:FAB is an acronym? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44758789)

FAB is not an acronym it is a short form. It means Fabrication Plant. It is the place where silicon chips are manufactured.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiconductor_device_fabrication

"The entire manufacturing process, from start to packaged chips ready for shipment, takes six to eight weeks and is performed in highly specialized facilities referred to as fabs."

Re:FAB is an acronym? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44758867)

Thanks a lot Mr. Helpy Helper.

Re:FAB is an acronym? (2)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 8 months ago | (#44758937)

Abbreviations aren't written in all-caps.

Re:FAB is an acronym? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44758991)

They're written in all CAPS when you're implying screaming.

Re:FAB is an acronym? (0, Troll)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#44759049)

They're written in all CAPS when you're implying screaming.

Which may be appropriate when your ASS is on FIRE!!!

Re:FAB is an acronym? (2)

idontgno (624372) | about 8 months ago | (#44761009)

I'm sorry. I may be misunderstanding... but... are you making a comment on the assumption that anything Slashdot submitters or editors does may be remotely appropriate from a grammatical, spelling, punctuation, or orthographic basis?

In other words, you're assuming the use of all upper case was intentional and conveys something significant, and not just stupid Slashdot editing?

Wow. You must be new here.

Re:FAB is an acronym? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44759179)

Actually, a nice way to put this in context is that the letters F A B are the first three letters in the Spanish word for factory, fabrica.

It occured to me that this would be a nice new business for Kodak. After all, they might ought to know a thing or two about photolithography, and Kodak was already in the business of making memories.

Re:FAB is an acronym? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 8 months ago | (#44760055)

Actually, a nice way to put this in context is that the letters F A B are the first three letters in the Spanish word for factory, fabrica.

They're also the first three letters in the English words for fabrication plant, fabrication plant. You know, where they fabricate things like computer chips.

Re:FAB is an acronym? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#44758859)

Fabulous Arson Bunny

A rabbit started it.

Re:FAB is an acronym? (3, Informative)

GrahamCox (741991) | about 8 months ago | (#44758989)

It's International Rescue's affirmative response when on call. "F.A.B, Virgil!"

Everyone knows that.

Re:FAB is an acronym? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#44759115)

It's International Rescue's affirmative response when on call. "F.A.B, Virgil!"

Everyone knows that.

+1

Re:FAB is an acronym? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44759255)

Stand for fabulous.

Re:FAB is an acronym? (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 8 months ago | (#44759403)

Fully Acknowledged and Briefed! Thunderbirds Are Go!

Re:FAB is an acronym? (1)

Flere Imsaho (786612) | about 8 months ago | (#44760663)

Is that really when it meant in Thunderbirds? I thought it was a BS TLA for TV?

Re:FAB is an acronym? (2)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 8 months ago | (#44760821)

The show creators admitted they made it up. It was a play on the use of the word "fab" by the mods in Britain in the 60s.
But that hasn't stopped fans and Wikipedia Editors [wikipedia.org] from concocting their own meaning.

Re:FAB is an acronym? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44759461)

No. It's industry slang for fabrication laboratory.

Re:FAB is an acronym? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44759911)

Fabrication.

Re:FAB is an acronym? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44760087)

Fabrication plant, maybe? GOD DAMN IT, LOSE THE ACRONYMS!

Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING. Of course it is, why in the hell do you think I used caps? This shit pisses me off and no matter how many complaints they get from large number of users, well, fuck the users we're going to use the acronym LEO in our story about policemen visiting the ISS. LEOs in LEO! That'll confuse the hell out of them!

Sheesh, fucking dumbasses.

Re:FAB is an acronym? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44760303)

Of course it is. Didn't you ever watch Thunderbirds? They always signed off radio calls with F.A.B.

Mind, there is some disagreement over what it stood for: Fully Advised and Briefed, Full Acknowledgement of Broadcast, or just Fabulous.

Crap ... (5, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about 8 months ago | (#44758751)

Anybody who bought memory in 1994/1995 knows about this kind of thing.

I remember spending $600+ dollars to get 16MB of RAM back in the day, and that was considered a good price back then.

Of course, cynically I believe companies will latch onto anything which allows them to claim increased scarcity and jack up prices.

And that there is a spot market for DRAM tells me that, once again, speculative investors are fucking it up for everybody -- kinda like oil, where the price goes up because people believe that other people believe the price will go up, and not for any actual market factors.

This is why we can't have nice things.

Re:Crap ... (3, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#44758891)

Anybody who bought memory in 1994/1995 knows about this kind of thing.

I remember spending $600+ dollars to get 16MB of RAM back in the day, and that was considered a good price back then.

Of course, cynically I believe companies will latch onto anything which allows them to claim increased scarcity and jack up prices.

And that there is a spot market for DRAM tells me that, once again, speculative investors are fucking it up for everybody -- kinda like oil, where the price goes up because people believe that other people believe the price will go up, and not for any actual market factors.

This is why we can't have nice things.

I remember spending $400 on 4K of static ram, 2102 1024x1. Kids these days are spoiled.

and after we bought the RAM we worked 27 hours a day at the mill to pay for it, ate broken glass for breakfast and lived in a hole in the middle of the lane, but it was a good life ...

Re:Crap ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 8 months ago | (#44758973)

and after we bought the RAM we worked 27 hours a day at the mill to pay for it, ate broken glass for breakfast and lived in a hole in the middle of the lane, but it was a good life ...

Luxury! [phespirit.info] We used to dream of working in the mill ...

Re:Crap ... (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 8 months ago | (#44758979)

I think the 16k RAM pack for the ZX81 was about $100 in early 80s money.

Which is about what I paid for 16GB earlier this year.

Re:Crap ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44759053)

You better still buy up as much RAM as possible right now, before prices go way up. You can always use more RAM anyway.

Re:Crap ... (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 8 months ago | (#44760335)

You can always use more RAM anyway.

Man, I wish that were still true. I've got mobos that won't take anything but 1.82V RAM and RAM that's rated for 2.3V that won't work in a mobo that sees it at 2.3V but will work if I push that up to 2.35V.

In short, I've got unused RAM without mobos and unusued mobos without RAM, and that's not even counting buffered, ranked, ecc, 2/3, timings, interleavings, etc.

Re-using RAM has become hard. I miss the days of just ripping RAM out of my Mac II to put into my 486 when I needed to render a big file.

(above values are approximate)

Re:Crap ... (1)

DarthVain (724186) | about 8 months ago | (#44768099)

I recently built a new computer (this week!), and found my invoice for my last one.

I think I paid close to 200$ for 2GB. I believe a couple months later it cost half of that. This was back at the beginning of 2007 I believe.

I just bought 16GB for 135$. I was sort of bitchy about it, however when put into perspective... However it has gone up a bit for whatever reason, 6 months ago 16GB would have cost about 100$.

Sumitomo all over again (5, Interesting)

BenJeremy (181303) | about 8 months ago | (#44758823)

Anybody else remember when the Sumitomo epoxy resin plant went up in the early 90s? RAM prices TRIPLED OVER NIGHT and remained high for the next two years, even though chip manufacturers had 6~10 months of the product stockpiled, Sumitomo had 6~8 months worth stockpiled (and in fact, weren't producing for that reason at the time), and several other chemical companies could have been up and running to produce the resin (which sold for $6/lb and THAT price never changed).

In the end, the plant came back up ahead of schedule, and nobody else jumped in because at $6/lb, it simply wasn't worth it to make the stuff, which was use not only in RAM chips, but a lot of other chip packages as well (oddly, none of those other chips went up in price).

In short, the price jump was artificial, had nothing to do with supply and demand, but simply companies taking advantage of news to increase profit margins. ....the Thai floods from a couple of years ago are another example, though those floods did at least have a small impact on supplies (though again, the prices for platter drives remain unreasonably high)

Re:Sumitomo all over again (1)

eulernet (1132389) | about 8 months ago | (#44759821)

It's the same pattern every year, beginning september and ending january.

It has everything to do with demand, since the demand increases because of the end of year gifts.

Last year, it was the hard-disks producers, if I remember correctly.
This time, it's RAM.
Next year, it'll be processors.

Re:Sumitomo all over again (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 8 months ago | (#44760089)

RAM has already been up all year. It's currently about double the price I paid for it in March.

Re:Sumitomo all over again (1)

Warphammer (610896) | about 8 months ago | (#44762215)

A high-volume system vendor locally told me that there have been a bunch of companies hoarding RAM all year, which is not helping the prices. Same's happening with enterpriseish SSDs (with Amazon getting the blame most frequently, it's believed for AWS rather than retail). Said vendor is using his own hoard of cheaply-bought ram to score contract wins, since he doesn't need to cover the current inflated prices.

Re:Sumitomo all over again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44760115)

anything to 'justify' higher prices. prices sinking? lets have a fire.. it's a sad but true running joke the 20 years or so. don't believe everything you read coming out of china without multiple and independent non-chinese verifications with proof. but unfortunately the open markets for commodity-like items such as dram dont work like that.

hell, it's in china, you (i.e. the 'west', or anywhere outside of chinese government/media control) never know if the fire was even real.. and if it was.. what was damaged and how bad. that second picture almost looked 'shopped', and the close-up picture contains no identifying features. if it was real, and if that facility is closed temporarily, it's not like they dont have other facilities that aren't running at 100% max capacity they _could_ shift production to _if they wanted_ or other companies, even. anything to 'justify' higher prices

even legit events like the floods that hit hard drive manufacturers cause prices to inflate far more than they should and stay high far longer than they should. anything to 'justify' higher prices

even non-events, like intentionally holding production of a hot item low or holding back shipments to artificially create scarcity to keep both demand and prices high (e.g. video game consoles + holiday product launches). anything to 'justify' higher prices

Re:Sumitomo all over again (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 8 months ago | (#44760989)

Well price isn't driven by cost, but by supply and demand. When a company needs a new laptop because they have a new employee who'll otherwise be twiddling their thumbs it'd take one helluva price hike to make them not buy one and look for a refurb/second hand laptop instead. What's the cost to Google if they have to close YouTube for new uploads and say "sorry, out of HDD space" do you think that's going to happen? At the first whiff of a shortage people go crazy and overbuy, which causes an actual shortage which again feeds the panic. If your products are practically going to sell anyway at any price because the market is squished, yeah I'd rise prices too. It's a business...

Re:Sumitomo all over again (1)

regular_gonzalez (926606) | about 8 months ago | (#44761143)

In a commodities market, retailers must base prices on their (anticipated) price to replenish their stock, not what their current inventory cost them. Those that don't quickly go broke.

Memories... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44758825)

I was back at University when it was said the price of the MB went up because a fire somewhere in California. Will a fire in Korea have the same effect? I am not into hw as much as then, obviously, but nowadays I doubt it will be so.

Re:Memories... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#44759005)

I was back at University when it was said the price of the MB went up because a fire somewhere in California. Will a fire in Korea have the same effect? I am not into hw as much as then, obviously, but nowadays I doubt it will be so.

This fire was in China, not Korea, but it burned as hot and brightly as any fire - which will probably be seized upon for marketing purposes -

New Hynix Fire DDR3 RAM It will make your system Blaze!

oi! there's a cinder in me bit!

What the press release really means (3, Insightful)

etash (1907284) | about 8 months ago | (#44758833)

Dear customers, the current rather low DRAM prices are not enough for our greed. Therefore they need to be higher. Of course we can't just out of the blue do that, hence we are doing this false flag operation to provide a plausible excuse for the artificial scarcity which will lead at least temporarily to higher prices.

Sincerely ( pun intended ) yours,

CEO of Hynix
Chun Sun Chan.

/tinfoil hat off.

Re:What the press release really means (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 8 months ago | (#44759333)

Right ... Except they are basically saying they'll be back at full production levels ... tomorrow or the day after.

Just because slashdot has a retarded sensationalizing title doesn't mean its OMFGSCARY!@%!@%. Neither the summary or the article or the news give any indication that production will be hindered at all.

Re:What the press release really means (1)

Technician (215283) | about 8 months ago | (#44761961)

There was a lawsuit related to the collusion after the epoxy fire. Some of the manufactures may remember that and avoid collusion this time arround, but look instead to fill the void in a competitive fashion since Windows 8 has not been selling well. Intel chips are selling slower, so memory to support them are in lower amouts too. Anyone with surplus inventory can make a mess of attempted collusion by selling surplus capacity and inventory. Raise prices at your own risk. Some price pressure may show, but I don't expect any shortages soon. There are many manufactures in the memory market.

Re:What the press release really means (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 8 months ago | (#44762619)

Nonsense, nonsense and more nonsense.

Prices are not everything, it's the volume that makes real profits. Higher prices only moderate access and are an excellent instrument to distribute scarce resources, but they do not result in more revenues.

Revenues come from volume, and higher prices with lower volume, even if the margins are higher, will still provide much lower revenue and thus much lower profit.

Industries in a competitive market want to lower prices and to increase volume, not the other way around.

May Bump? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44758879)

Runaway speculative price increases in three, two, one...

Do they need to re-qualify the equipment? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44759373)

The main question is whether they had to cut power to the manufacturing equipment to fight the fire. If not, the would easily be back up and running in two weeks if the equipment was on but idle.

But if power got cut, even if the equipment wasn't damaged, all of it will need to be brought up, reinitialized, and re-qualified, a process that will most likely take days for each piece of equipment. The tolerances for semiconductor equipment are so tight (not only for pattern geometries, but also for things like high vac, chemical flow rate, temperature (try less than half a degree F variation across all 151 individual heating elements) that it takes a lot of time, effort, and expertise to hone things in just right. Expect 2-3 months for requal if that's the case.

Re:Do they need to re-qualify the equipment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44761055)

But if power got cut, even if the equipment wasn't damaged, all of it will need to be brought up, reinitialized, and re-qualified, a process that will most likely take days for each piece of equipment

So they should be ready in days? It's not like you need to restart each piece of equipment one by one with everyone twiddling their thumbs.

Re:Do they need to re-qualify the equipment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44761241)

So you think the fab has 12 trained ion implanter qual technicians, 24 PVD qual technicians, 12 electroplating qual technicians, 12 MVD qual technicians,12 qual ultraviolet stepper qual technicians, etc.

It takes time, training, and painstaking test and accuracy to do hone each piece of semiconductor equipment, and there are only so many highly trained technicians for each individual piece of highly specialized piece of equipment. And for highest throughput, there are usually many multiples of each type of equipment in a fab, A high volume fab (like DRAM) might have a separate set of equipment for each interconnect layer, though usually there's some overlap for the most expensive pieces of equipment.

I'm going to assume you've never worked in a fab.

Re:Do they need to re-qualify the equipment? (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 8 months ago | (#44761517)

Just some questions about your post.

1) What is "tight" tolerance. I've heard of "high tolerance" and "low tolerance," but not "tight" tolerance. What does that mean?

2) What is a "degree F?"

Re:Do they need to re-qualify the equipment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44762251)

This is ridiculous.

Tight tolerance: only minimal variation from spec allowed. A machinist might be required to lathe a cylinder 1" in diameter, +/- .0001". That is a tight tolerance.

Degree F: One degree Fahrenheit. 0 degrees Fahrenheit was originally set to the mean the temperature of icy brine water. 100 degrees Fahrenheit was originally body temperature, later revised to 98.2 +/- 0.7F. That is a loose tolerance.

Re:Do they need to re-qualify the equipment? (1)

LordWabbit2 (2440804) | about 8 months ago | (#44763573)

Degrees Fahrenheit, he is talking about heating elements, would have thought that would be obvious.

Re:Do they need to re-qualify the equipment? (1)

Pinhedd (1661735) | about 8 months ago | (#44762485)

I would expect that to be the case. Even if the clean room wasn't affected by physical damage, the air purification system was flooded with smoke, not to mention the heat and debris released by the fire.

Working conditions (1)

notknown86 (1190215) | about 8 months ago | (#44759433)

the damage is not as severe as it seems as the smoke created was because the fire was concentrated in the air purification facilities that are linked to the rooftop of the fab

Heck, filling the building with smoke might even *improve* the quality of the air for the workers in those facilities!

Just Like the Thailand Hard Drive Mfg. Flood (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44759645)

What's really scary is that the entire world supply (and price) of this ubiquitous commodity is in the hands of a single plant owner.
In China, no less.

Is this Hynix' only fab? (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about 8 months ago | (#44759873)

I haven't followed the manufacturing trends of the leading memory makers for a while now, hence my question: is this Hynix' only fab? Do they have others - in Korea, Taiwan, US, Philippines, et al?

Hynix in Wuxi ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44760713)

seems like there should be a joke there.

Injuries? (1)

key134 (673907) | about 8 months ago | (#44760715)

I was wondering if anyone was injured. Since the summary didn't mention it I had to RTFA:

We are still investigating the extent of damage, however there was no human casualty with only one minor injury.

I would think this would be an important part of reporting about a fire.

this is slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44761107)

nobody gives a fuck about morality or human life

DRAM Rush (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44761491)

The Speculators dumped BILLIONS into DRAM today, buying up inventory and enacting a self-fulfilling prophecy that prices will rise.

Not one of these people has a use for DRAM, but they're just buying it because they believe there will be a shortage.

Gasoline & RAM Pricing: Sawteeth (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 8 months ago | (#44764293)

Just like gasoline, RAM prices leap up at rapid rates on the most tangential of bullshit news, but only lowers at the same rate of the most tepid bunny slope. Just like calculus, all the action is under the curve.

FAB (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44834277)

FAB mean Fabrication which is the name given to the clean room facility of a factory that manufactures micro chips. Most companies have name for there FABs, usually numbers so the clean room that's makes a certain processor in a certain country could be called Intel Fab 28 which is their clean room fab in Israel.

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