Time to Load Up on Micron Technology

Mar. 2.07 | About: Micron Technology (MU)

Random Access Memory [RAM] is the brain of our computers. It is thousands of times faster than a hard disk drive. That is why server farms at Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), MSN (NASDAQ:MSFT) and others are increasingly replacing hard disks by RAM for searches, database inquiries, telecommunication applications.

For any PC, increasing the RAM space has a higher impact on performance than CPU power, but costs less. Today’s PC/notebook is equipped with doubled, tripled, or quadrupled amount of RAM space than two years ago, even though the RAM module price has changed very little. And Microsoft’s new operating system, Vista, will have much higher requirement on RAM, too. All these are music to the ears of Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU) – the only US based memory chip producer.

Back in June, Micron made a bold move to acquire Lexar – one of the major NAND flash memory chip producers. Micron already has deals in place to supply flash-based chips to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which I believe will replace its HDD-based iPod completely by smaller, lighter, and power-saving NAND. And all mp3 player manufacturers will follow suit.

We already know PDAs, cell phones, and all handheld devices will use more and more NAND flash memory. Also, we will see GPS equipped cell phones everywhere, starting from the recently announced Nokia (NYSE:NOK) 6110 Navigator and Apple iPhone, of course.

We will soon find that iPods, MP3 players, cellphones, PDAs, and digital cameras are not the only consumer products that exclusively use NAND; it could be a surprise that in the near future, all camcorders video cameras will be using NAND instead of DV tapes.

It was a surprising experience when I first saw a piece of video taken by a friend of mine using a cheap Canon (NYSE:CAJ) S2 digital camera. Now I use the newer Canon S3 digital camera for video recording and completely abandoning my Sony (NYSE:SNE) TRV900 - the famous prosumer 3-CCD DV camcorder, which cost me $2500 in the year 2000.

Street-priced at about $300 the Canon S3, with 12x optical zoom and image stabilizer, can take fully zoomable and unlimited video recording as your SD card space allows. Consuming 2 Mbyte/second of your SD card, the video recording quality is very impressive.

Compared to DV tapes, a NAND flesh memory card is:

  • Small size and lightweight
  • Consuming less power
  • True random-access - meaning easy to search and locate any part of the video (no sequential back-forward)
  • No mechanics - no-breakable part – meaning more reliable and less expensive
  • Canon’s Pre-PMA 2007 announcement may have started the new era for the HDTV on a NAND SD card. The TX1 – an HDTV camcorder and 7.1 million pixel static camera - can make about 13 minutes of continuous movie recording at 1280x720 resolution and 30 fps with a 4GB fast SD card, or about 30 minutes of continuous movie at 640x480 resolution and 30 fps.

    If you invested a thousand dollars in MU in 1990 at an adjusted price of 70 cents per share, your money became about seventy thousand dollars in a short period of six years when computer applications changed from TEXT oriented to GRAPHICS oriented. Now, starting from last or this year, the computer/web and IT applications have been experiencing another dramatic change from text/graphics/static web pages/applications to video centrical, which consumes and requires huge amounts of memory space and bandwidth.

    Disclosure: Author is long MU.

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