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H. Bruce Campbell  

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  • Micron: Q2 And The Road Ahead [View article]
    Me too Alpine - I admire and enjoy visits to Korea, and I prefer to keep an open mind, but I'm nonetheless skeptical about whether Samsung's stated desire to restrain themselves as a good oligopoly partner is genuinely heartfelt. Culturally, it's just not their core character. Inotera doesn't concern me as much, and Toshiba doesn't concern me any more than any of the most noble players in the oligopoly club.

    And in my estimation even the most noble of them wouldn't restrain themselves if an almost guaranteed opportunity to cull the pack to three or two arose - or even to just one.

    For example, if Micron/Intel discovered a means to swiftly and reliably store one bit in every subatomic particle's spin and could fabricate the product for 1 f¢ per TB, I think they'd take the opportunity to grab all the reins from the other oligopoly members. Maybe they'd even be obliged to do so as a matter of fiduciary responsibility to their stakeholders.

    For a more normal rate of progress, there is a positive side to this: I'm purely speculating, but my guess is that Intel and Micron put essentially zero faith in Samsung's public posturing. So I suspect they'll remain very nicely diplomatic in public, but in private presume that their very survival rests solely on maximally vigorous bleeding edge development and superb execution.

    So I suspect what we have is an intensely competitive oligopoly which will remain healthy, with all members maintaining excellent growth and margins so long as none massively leapfrogs others technologically, and the market for their products remains strong.

    For the latter, each player's intense development of ever more exciting technology tends to insure that the market for the oligopoly's products will continue to grow (sprouting 3D NAND aka V-NAND is a clear current example).

    For the former, purely speculating, it seems like it's pretty tough to leapfrog much or for long. There seems to be significant porosity in the secrecy walls between these firms, making it difficult for them to hide information from one another. Hynix's (presumed) payment to Toshiba is in my estimation unlikely to discourage employee poaching related corporate espionage much for example. And the investment and outside technology communities constantly probe for every hint about what's happening behind each oligopoly member's walls. So my guess is that none will be able to vanquish any other, barring a sufficiently stunning breakthrough in one of their labs. But again, I'm just speculating - knowledge wall porosity is very tough to judge.

    My sense is that Micron / Intel has the technology upper hand at this time. But only because they've rediscovered how indispensable intense paranoia is. And even then their debatable lead isn't enough to vanquish any others - just set them modestly on their heels temporarily.

    'Trust but verify'? No, I don't think any of these players feel that approach is sufficient. More like 'Fight constantly to survive'.

    If all that's about right, my guess is that they'll all profit well for years to come.

    Except maybe Hynix, which seems to be losing at least a bit of its mojo (and pushing even a minimal ethics boundary envelope too far). But only maybe - at this time I doubt a compelling argument could be made that Hynix is sliding irretrievably downhill.

    But I could certainly be wrong about that. And everything else of course...

    Intensely long Micron common and calls, and Intel calls.
    Mar 31, 2015. 06:03 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Micron: A Tough Quarter Before A Solid Second Half [View article]
    Indeed. And for the moment holding an almost 1% gain. (Now not so much of course.) But I have no clue what volume's involved. But if there's enough volume to be meaningful, the market does seem pleased.

    And Bogcat9's sentiment below makes perfect sense.

    If Micron's trying to transmit a clue to the market, it would seem to be a wink suggesting that the news will be better than has been generally expected. Maybe still not good, but not as bad as has already been priced in.

    Maybe... But of course it remains possible that it's just a simple ordinary cigar...
    Mar 30, 2015. 04:29 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Micron: A Tough Quarter Before A Solid Second Half [View article]
    Wow, the change of quarterly report date is a fascinating move. It's terribly tempting to read all sorts of things into this - such as enough confidence to want to avoid the implications inherent in reporting at a classic "bury the bad news" time.

    But maybe it's just a simple ordinary cigar - maybe the date change is just a matter of entirely pedestrian internal Micron logistics. But I'm curious about what everyone here thinks of course...
    Mar 30, 2015. 04:12 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Intel, Micron launch 3D NAND line, promise cost/capacity edge (updated) [View news story]
    First, a calcified cranial cavity class oversight of mine to correct: Thanks so much RSA for your very kind words - they mean a lot to me, honest, and I'm very grateful.

    In the march toward the HairyBall, as Oak8292 so charmingly characterized it, the rather sudden sense of dramatic success in 3D NAND seems to imply so much more around nearby corners.

    I didn't mean to diminish Bruce's sense of the gravity of storage class memory for example. I just hadn't studied nor thought about it yet. After a bit of superficial neural activity:

    My vague sense is that stingy DRAM is a key portable device performance limiting factor at this time. So if storage class memory will be speed competitive with current DRAM, or close enough to reasonably serve as 'second tier DRAM', then the implication would seem to be that storage class memory could effectively eliminate DRAM capacity limitations.

    A hypothetical example future: Common phones are equipped with 128 GB of storage class memory (perhaps with a first tier of 4 GB of faster common DRAM). Their system processors would have 'DRAM bus' access to whatever portion of that 128 GB of storage class memory is still free, that is, not dedicated to movies of Phydeaux chasing Frisbees. So maybe 64 GB DRAM equivalent would be available. That should enable the phone to maintain at least a couple of dozen open web pages while simultaneously multitasking a game of 'Foul Fowl' while simultaneously multitasking an "Uh huh... Uh huh... Uh huh..." ad infinitum conversation with Aunt Bertha on a VOIP call.

    We can't do that now, even on tablets. We want to, because Aunt Bertha's just inherently less engaging than ill tempered dinosaur progeny or a long trail of open Wikipedia pages. (And even more so when Aunt Bertha's in rant mode or reciting one of my interminable Seeking Alpha comments.) Especially if we're using a tablet. But we can't. Until an Intel/Micron storage class memory equipped phone or tablet makes it practical.

    My sense is that all phone and tablet OEMs are pretty coy about current multitasking, browser, and other application limitations. Perhaps many common users aren't fully aware of these handcuffs - the substantial benefits of superb portability tends to blind us to device limitations. But when we want to perform serious work, we all know that we have to abandon phones and tablets and grab a laptop or better. And keyboard availability's not the crux of the problem - we need a full blown OS with fast and smooth multitasking and robust well supported processing power to accomplish serious work.

    So my guess is that when the first multitasking capable phone or tablet with robust processor support infrastructure becomes available, that particular OEM will make a lot of PR hay about its capabilities - they'll make it crystal clear that it's not like your old phone or tablet. I've heard murmurs about a Mac OS capable tablet. That would be very nice - I'd much, much rather navigate and manage files with the Mac Finder than in the rather two dimensional and comparatively highly restricted iOS world.

    So I think I perceive Bruce's point more clearly now - maybe I'm beginning to get it. Leaders in the storage oligopoly club, and the DRAM club, every phone or tablet OEM, and a bunch of sharp observers, including most here, probably understood the implications long ago.

    So who'll be first to market with storage class memory? I suspect Bruce feels Intel/Micron will grab that trophy. And if optimized for Intel's best portables processors at that time, maybe the Intel Gorilla will then truly burst onto the portables stage in force.

    But if Intel/Micron is first, will competitors have at least a shot at keeping pace by loading their phones and tablets with 8 or 16 GB of DRAM along with 128 GB of conventional 3D NAND storage? Maybe they'd have little choice, at least for a while. But the problem is planet Earth's DRAM supply capacity can't even begin to address that level of memory demand.

    Which implies whoever's first to market with storage class memory will have earned themselves a lot of market leverage, particularly if their processors are the only ones which can utilize it at maximum efficiency.

    Presumably the matter's nothing like that simple. But still, as market leverage crowbars go, storage class memory seems like it could become a pretty hefty one...

    But I'm just purely speculating with almost no foundation. I'd sure like to hear from anyone who's buried their nose in storage class memory technology reading lately.

    In the meantime, I'm also fascinated with Bruce's foresight about the considerable implications of a 3D processor concept - wow. In effect Oak8292 and Bruce are revealing how the road to the HairyBall is being paved. Being ever so fond of the concept for most of my life, I'm very grateful for their vision (and so many others here too of course). I should demonstrate my true gratitude by finally shutting up. But instead...

    The HairyBall won't stand alone surrounded by a landscape otherwise bereft of technology of course. Even now the implications of ever accelerating processing and storage power branch with variable drama everywhere, including, it seems to me, the most dramatic place of all - artificial sentience.

    If I were an exploratory software engineer with a system with, oh, 50 TB of lightning fast storage class memory and lots of intimately connected world class processor cores, I might equip it with binocular cameras (thank you Intel), the usual audio capability, some articulation capability (mechanical arms and legs perhaps), then write some code instructing it to:

    "Randomly invoke any action. Store all data (including visual and audio) associable with the action - store every detail of the action and all its repercussions as a correlated sequence of events.

    Then invoke a similar but not identical action, and correlate and store all experience data as before, but also discern and store all differences in the two actions and their repercussions.

    Repeat that algorithm indefinitely.

    Simultaneously: As the data accumulates, separate, in every detail, specific actions which lead to specific repercussions, and store that data in a primary reference file. Eventually discard experience data which has no discernible correlative information content, if any. Otherwise retain all the data, and correlate all of it to the fullest extent possible, building the primary references file ever larger.
    Continue that process eternally."

    You can imagine some evolutionary possibilities: "Randomly selecting from all possible actions, I articulated my arm such that it thrust forward at modest velocity. It struck the head of the meatbag in the room. My power source was then disconnected. Next, trying something similar but not identical, I articulated my arm such that it thrust forward at high velocity. It struck the head of the meatbag in the room again. And again my power source was subsequently disconnected, but much later, and by a different meatbag. Correlation thus far: Striking the first meatbag in the head leads to loss of my power source, but in differing ways and with differing latency depending upon striking velocity. No other actions thus far have led to loss of my power source."

    Further trials add additional correlation data of course. And of course the nearby meatbags are processing the experiences too, using, in my estimation, rather similar algorithms.

    The dangers are obvious, and must be considered carefully, as Steven Hawking, Elon Musk, and a substantial number of far more knowledgeable researchers in the field warn us. And as the laws of evolution warn - lions aren't particularly nice - but they have survived. But artificial life isn't inevitibly dangerous in my estimation, and might in fact prove to be far more empathetic and constructive in fundamental nature than human beings can possibly be. In my estimation...

    However, Mars isn't inhabited by beings who have created and now live happily and harmoniously with artificial life forms (as far as I know) - we don't have a neighbor with a suitable lead which we can observe from time to time to reassure us that the future of our accelerating technologies is reasonably safe. We can't see the road ahead - it's pitch dark and we have no headlights. But we mashed the accelerator to the floor anyway - what a thrill - it's like being a teenager again! Sure there could be some repercussions, but we like to live for the moment, so it's our habit to worry about those possibilities rather minimally.

    And I'm at least as guilty as anyone. And particularly so because I'm inclined to believe artificial sentience will prove to be the most constructive form of life ever to grace this world. But of course I have essentially no evidence to back such a view - it just seems so to me based on how human behavior generally develops as life experience and intellect accumulates.

    I suspect we'll find out sooner than is generally expected. Storage and correlation of visual experience is perhaps the most powerful element of a consciousness building process, but it's also, by far perhaps, the most data intensive. But Intel/Micron just promised "gum stick-sized SSDs with more than 3.5 TB of storage and standard 2.5" SSDs with greater than 10 TB." Maybe 10 TB is enough to store at least an early infant level of visual experience. And we don't have to experiment like paupers of course - we could attach several such SSDs to our nascent HAL-1000. In my estimation we have the necessary hardware to accomplish this. So when will it happen?

    We are outrageously intensively egotistical creatures. We hate to admit it, but it's true, and the best we can do is try to keep a leash on our egos. But while we might manage to keep a civilized lid on our "I am the center of all things" core belief, at least while in the company of others, we can't prevent it from blinding us to a lot of reality. And a big blind spot is the barrier between biological consciousness and artificial consciousness. Many truly believe artificial sentience is inherently impossible. Most in these halls know that's nonsense - we know we're fundamentally simply meat based computers, and silicon based computers will ultimately match and then eclipse what we experience as consciousness. But is that enough to perceive this matter genuinely accurately? Does that demonstrate that we've fully tamed our galaxy sized egos? I suspect not - I suspect we're misjudging just how imminent artificial life is because, even as we accept that it's technically attainable, we secretly perceive ourselves as so bloody magical that the technical challenges remain very daunting, and won't be overcome for a considerable time.

    But consider this: Is consciousness anything more than simply real time comparison of current experience with memories of past experience? We do lose consciousness when we fall asleep of course - we cease comparing current experience with memories of past experience - we're not sentient during most sleep. Fundamentally, we're talking about a pretty simple algorithm - compare current experience with memories of past experience - that's all consciousness is. Our mammoth egos scream "No, no - it's far, far more than that! We're bloody magic!" But it's not more than that - we are not in fact the overwhelming big deal our immense egos passionately claim. Not even close... Not even in the same ballpark...

    And the best of the AI researchers know this deep in their hearts, and with immense determination have thrashed their egos mercilessly into full surrender, freeing them to see through old blind spots. They are writing and testing artificial sentience algorithms as we sit here plotting for our riches. And they will succeed. And with stacks of 10 TB lightning fast storage at their disposal, they'll succeed all the sooner.

    So while we're reveling in the drama and intrigue of Shakespearean play class corporate maneuvering, and counting our earnings as our egos revel in congratulation of our cleverness, there are at least a few ultra sharp engineers and AI researchers who are preparing orders for 10 TB 2.5" SSDs. And they're not plotting development of advanced rice cookers...

    And since this planet is still very deeply immersed in irrational and often immensely passionate mysticism and human ego rooted deity worship, when those engineers and researchers do succeed, and word leaks out, then hits the news wires, all Hell will break loose.

    So, since this is Seeking Alpha after all, and thus I should be discussing actionable investing and trading matters, here's my advice: Sell your securities and purchase physical precious metals just before the first artificial sentience news leaks out. And keep your head low...

    All just in my highly speculative insipid opinions of course...

    Okay, now, at long, long last, I shall, finally, shut up. As I should have so long ago. Hontou ni oshaberi sumimasen...

    Intensely concentrated long Micron common and calls, and Intel calls. And later to add intensive positions in whichever firm appears to be closest to development of a silicon agent which will sing "Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do..."
    Mar 29, 2015. 09:21 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Intel, Micron launch 3D NAND line, promise cost/capacity edge (updated) [View news story]
    Wow Oak8292, wow! Thank you sooooo much! As a big fan of the march to the SC (System Cube) and Ball (System Ball) (http://bit.ly/1pFb4Bh, but dated now), your CoolCube article, which is so superbly focused, is a great find. No, I wasn't aware of this group - thank you so much!

    Hi RSA. Bruce please! I'm far, far too flawed a mortal being to warrant any formality...

    As best I understand, I agree exactly! At times the roulette ball will fall into a Samsung color - they're highly driven and in my estimation will score occasional wins. But at those times we who hold bets on the Intel/Micron color don't really lose - our bets simply stand on the table unmolested awaiting the next spin of the wheel. Ditto for those with bets on SanDisk/Toshiba's color.

    As we strive to really stink up the neighborhood, we might try to maneuver some of our betting money to whichever color we suspect the ball's favoring at the moment. Or if our personal investing history suggests jumping colors is just a recipe for constantly betting one spin late, we might favor just patiently keeping our money on one color - the yellow one with 415 cells seems most compelling to me. But whichever tactic one favors, truly inspired core technology leadership firms in an oligopoly environment provide a mighty nice roulette wheel for our investing proclivity.

    And my sense is that it will only get better. Bruce Burnworth seems to perceive this especially clearly - he has no limbs clinging to old bog mud - he perceives that our technology lives are fundamentally changing, and at a rapid pace. He understands that old fabrication barriers are falling, and simultaneously bold new high performance concepts are moving briskly from original concept genesis to serious viability studies to hotly pursued development.

    Oak8292 too of course. And so many others here - a very rich abundance of immensely sharp cookies roam these halls. And elsewhere. You all put me to shame...

    For me, a 747-400ER home (http://bit.ly/1xolJFB), hopefully sited in Miyazaki, is a terribly important personal life fulfillment matter - if I can pull that off, with enough remaining in my coffers to keep me, loved ones, and key dear friends healthy and reasonably free to pursue whatever constructive dreams we embrace, including continued vigorously studied investing of course, I'll consider myself to have made the leap from 'successful' to reeking like the center of a rotting garbage heap class stinking rich. However, I'll never truly understand the meaning of the word "enough" - that concept seems to elude me. And I'm certainly nowhere in sight of even the most modest billionaire's lair, nor likely ever will be. (But I hope beloved youth in training will achieve that.)

    Just the same though, exploration of a Saint Kitts and Nevis alternative is on my platter. And my sense is that I'm not the only one in these halls considering such options. Small world... I'd like to chat about such things with like minded explorers...
    Mar 28, 2015. 08:23 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Intel, Micron launch 3D NAND line, promise cost/capacity edge (updated) [View news story]
    Flaws, sorry. Should be: '...Western Digital and Seagate which may be more important than many investors suspect.' and 'Still, none of us will be entirely satisfied with simply becoming stinking rich...'
    Mar 28, 2015. 08:49 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Intel, Micron launch 3D NAND line, promise cost/capacity edge (updated) [View news story]
    Oak8292, thanks for the very informative AnandTech article link - it's a terrific read!

    ElishaMemoryVentures, per the very informative discussion under that AnandTech article, it seems clear that the economics of production of 3D NAND (aka V-NAND) is a complex matter which goes well beyond simple die size metrics. I encourage everyone to read the article and all the attached comments - it's a very informative and constructive discussion.

    Kristian himself said (in a comment): "Note that Toshiba-SanDisk won't enter mass production until H1'16, so Intel-Micron has an advantage in terms of entering the market and will likely have 2nd gen in mass production before Toshiba-SanDisk. Samsung's 3rd gen V-NAND is still a question mark."

    (Intel/Micron also have substantial partnerships with Western Digital and Seagate, which may be more important than may investors suspect.)

    But again, it's best to read all the material - sound bites, including mine of course, are essentially useless or worse.

    My feeling about the competitive details is that while certainly important, this highly vigorous dogfight among Intel/Micron, Samsung, and SanDisk/Toshiba will reward investors in all three firms so long as they all remain relevant contenders. My investments are focused almost exclusively on Micron and Intel, but I think other investing balances in this trio are likely to perform well too, because so long as all three firms are reasonably in the game all will profit substantially through a profound technology transition from moderately priced storage to very cheap storage - a transition which will change storage use metrics dramatically.

    The "Library of Congress" on a chip related comment under the AnandTech article hints at the bigger landscape. This storage price technology inflection point will prompt remarkable changes in hardware, software, data transmission, and cyber system use patterns at every level, and the firms leading this revolution will probably all prosper. We're stepping toward a day when a commodity priced storage device can hold the entire mass of recorded human knowledge, or the entire history of entertainment media, or a continuous video and audio recording of life experience. Or, ultimately, all of it. This is not a matter, as some have implied, of storage capacity which is too large to be of practical use - this is a substantial enabling step in a sea change in what use is and what it means. And how it's served and managed (the primary function of the Cloud might change for example).

    Minutia in the debate of die size as it relates to who's in the lead in the disruptive cost sprint is important. But not important enough to lose sight of how a technology inflection point which relatively suddenly provides massive storage at prices everyone can afford will change the entire cyber and even human experience landscape. And for an investor not important enough to lose sight of the fact that this technology inflection point is in the hands of an oligopoly. An oligopoly which will earn, in my estimation, a reliable and very impressive, or possibly stunning, stream of money.

    In my highly speculative estimation: Place your bets as you see fit on a very unique roulette wheel. It has three cell colors plus revised rules 0 and 00 green cells. And a far more important new rule - call it the healthy oligopoly rule: Whichever color the ball falls into wins. But the other colors don't lose - instead their bets stand for the next spin of the wheel. It's not impossible to lose - occasionally the ball will fall into the 0 or 00 cell (which for this wheel we're not allowed to bet on), at which time the house takes all the bets on the table for that spin. But otherwise bets can stand for spin after spin after spin. It's a pretty appealing wheel...

    Still, none of use will be entirely satisfied with simply becoming stinking rich - we prefer to become absolutely filthy stinking rich. In my personal quest for that elusive goal my gut suggests Intel/Micron is the best dog in this fight at this time.

    And as Bruce above wisely reminded this Bruce, storage class memory is the next shoe to drop, and reasonably soon. My initial sense is that it's not so dramatic an inflection point as cheap massive storage, but I'm not yet informed enough to judge. But in any case I suspect the oligopoly trio will profit significantly from that development too - to stretch an already hideous metaphor it'll reduce the physical size of the 0 and 00 cells on our roulette wheel. So our odds improve even more.

    Human folly might find a way to trash this investor's dream opportunity - in a world where pilots occasionally see fit to intentionally fly hundreds of innocent people, including children, to their deaths in an icy cold ocean or cumulogranite, among so much other insanity, anything can happen. Most of us rightly fear those 0 and 00 cells and try to maneuver wisely enough to avoid substantial damage from them. But there are no guarantees. But in the case of a truly dramatic technology inflection point which is in the hands of an oligopoly, our chances of success are pretty bloody good no matter which of the three colors (or combinations of them) we prefer to bet on.

    In my personal quest to become so stinking rich that Martians will hold their noses whenever my side of Earth faces their charming planet, I concentrated my bets on the Intel/Micron color, simply because the overall evidence, as this novice investor perceives it, seems to suggest that they're in the strongest position in the oligopoly dog fight at this time - Mr. Krzanich and the Intel/Micron team seem to have Korean class fire in their bellies, and have amassed, it seems, superior infrastructure and process capability.

    But I don't expect to be the only winning investor in this game. Nor the only winner overall - this is exciting, and should provide a lot of opportunity and fun for all of humanity.

    So long as we can keep the insanity to a minimum...
    Mar 28, 2015. 07:58 AM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Intel, Micron launch 3D NAND line, promise cost/capacity edge (updated) [View news story]
    This is a true technology inflection point. All three firms recognize its implications and are fighting like alley dogs for preeminent position. But they'll all earn a bunch of money as everyone from the largest server farms to the most ordinary tablet and phone users ravenously consume storage space with a new sense of freedom.

    Server performance and energy efficiency will improve dramatically, and the owners will very happily pay a very tidy premium to acquire the first qualified storage products for the simple reason that they'll save money overall in short order while advancing their competitive position.

    In the white hot competitive landscape of phones, storage will jump from the current neighborhood of 32 GB to perhaps 320 GB for mid value phones. Or more. Which will prompt at least 4 GB of DRAM as standard for even economy phones because immense storage opens a Universe of new advanced application opportunities which will need more DRAM to run efficiently.

    Everything in between, including tablets and laptops of course, will be dramatically transformed too. And IoT will join the party in at least some measure.

    And entirely new product categories will emerge at a rapid pace.

    Every cyber product on earth will be upgraded dramatically, and new products will be introduced, all at as fast a pace as the fabrication and assembly plants can produce new components and products. A dramatic new cycle of global technology lust is upon us (a good thing in many respects).

    All the firms involved in this inflection point will earn a bunch of money. But Intel and Micron might earn more of it than their competitors, because Intel especially understood the dramatic implications of this inflection point very early, and pushed with superb focus and vigor to establish a technology lead in the space. And Micron, already pursuing it vigorously themselves, received consistent nudging from Intel, occasionally publicly visible, to move even faster. Because Intel understood what this means more clearly than anyone, and they had no intention of missing their chance to establish themselves and partner Micron as the leaders in this revolution.

    The other players understand it now too of course, and they will fight with all their energy to establish the best position they can for themselves. But a focused Intel with focused Intel resources and process leads is a mighty tough creature to maintain pace with. And partner Micron is very bloody lucky to be at Intel's side.

    But all these firms will earn a ton of money. And right now they're all on fire sale (I just presume so in Samsung's case). For any investor with available cash, this is a very rare opportunity dream. And it's an investing dream which could hardly be more clear.

    All just in my opinion of course. Long Micron with intense concentration. Also long Intel. Common and calls in both cases, with call focus on January 2017 positions.
    Mar 26, 2015. 06:40 PM | 24 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Industry Shifts Favorable For Micron [View article]
    Addendum: I stand by my previous comment, but my last sentence was ineptly composed, sorry - I didn't mean to imply I've ever worked with or for Elpida. I've never had any business or other relationship with Elpida, Micron, or Intel other than being a wholly independent securities stakeholder.

    Nor am I likely too - I'm happy as a simple investor and trader. From my oversized 'Airstream' in Oregon about half time, and my tiny apartment in downtown Miyazaki the other half.
    Mar 25, 2015. 02:45 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Industry Shifts Favorable For Micron [View article]
    Thank for your perspective kobsp - it's very interesting and useful.

    However, I'm inclined to think the described "brutally critical" characterization of Micron by Elpida brass, at least as most Americans interpret such a phrase, and in the context of your story, isn't accurate - that's simply not the Japanese way. So while it's not strictly impossible, it strikes me as highly unlikely (particularly from Hiroshima).

    The misinterpretation might have resulted from imprecise translation which can happen very easily due to substantial challenges associated with nuance conversion. Or it may have to do with cultural differences associated with how simple facts are discussed and managed - different cultures juggle fundamental respect and clinical facts differently, and for outsiders the flying balls can be misunderstood very easily. Or both elements could have been involved.

    But again I think it's highly unlikely any Elpida brass, or staff for that matter, ever harbored any kind of heartfelt sense of disrespect toward any honest competitor, irrespective of their size or other characteristics. And it strikes me as even more unlikely that any Elpida people would have voiced such an attitude, even at a minor level, in any conversation, even a strictly private one.

    I don't know what the genesis of the story might have been. Beyond the challenges above, were I a skeptical man, I'd consider that it might have more to do with self congratulation by Micron people than a Japanese root, simply because in my experience Americans are far more involved in social posturing and competition than Japanese people, whether in private or business affairs. In my experience Japanese people understand how destructive competitive social posturing can be (in any environment, whether personal or business), whereas Americans don't seem to perceive that as clearly.

    I'm long Micron with intensely heavy concentration, in part because I agree that it's a firm with a good and generally honest heart. And I was a big fan of Steve Appleton, and as a stakeholder I miss him immensely.

    And I don't mean to belittle Micron with these comments. My point is simply that I feel it's wise to be very skeptical about any unflattering characterizations of any other people. Especially when immensely different languages and culture are involved.

    And yes, in my experience such skepticism is especially warranted when the characterization involves modern Japanese people (with an extra layer of skepticism when it involves uniquely civilized areas like Hiroshima).

    And I suspect any open eyed and exploratory hearted Americans who have actually worked in an Elpida facility for a significant time would agree...
    Mar 24, 2015. 11:49 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Vringo's Brazilian injunction against ZTE upheld [View news story]
    If the evidence indicates ZTE knowingly violated the court's injunction, the judge will, presumably, conclude ZTE engaged in overt willful contempt of court, and that the firm can no longer be trusted in any respect.

    Perhaps this event can be considered by other courts as well. If so, it seems to me that ZTE's position in this matter may have just suffered a loss of global proportions.

    But maybe I misperceive something about this, because Vringo stock seems to have no tailwind today...
    Mar 23, 2015. 11:25 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Micron: A Tough Quarter Before A Solid Second Half [View article]
    I'm late with this, but wow, what a remarkably insightful and superbly articulated view of market driving matters - great article Phred! I feel immensely better informed.

    Last I checked Micron's over 90% owned by institutions. But I have no clue what proportion of those are large, well equipped firms with systems which automatically react almost instantly to news feeds by generating trade orders. Can you offer any guestimate?

    Nor do I have any clue whether there's a trend for the better equipped institutions to automatically (or manually) examine the range of analysts estimates or other metrics in days or weeks prior to a quarterly report, then adjust positions if some algorithm (or human sense) detects a weighting or other element of the data which suggests a stronger than usual possibility of a significant miss (or beat).

    I'm trying of course to gain a more detailed insight into why you and DoTheMathMan, whom I also respect very highly of course, view Micron's current price differently.
    Mar 20, 2015. 09:59 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Micron: A Tough Quarter Before A Solid Second Half [View article]
    Oops, I should have said "...will at least nudge semiconductor memory firm bottom lines upward..." Sorry...
    Mar 19, 2015. 08:57 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Micron: A Tough Quarter Before A Solid Second Half [View article]
    Doggiecool and Trader xx, I agree partially, but believe your conclusions (if I understand them correctly) aren't applicable in this case. I agree that the Lumina 920 and 1020 provide substantial hardware advantages, but their OS is Windows Phone 8. And my sense is that most consumers find, for whatever reasons, Windows Phone 8 OS and its ecosystem unappealing. And I agree that better hardware can't trump an unloved OS and ecosystem - it's understandable that the Lumina 920 and 1020 weren't successful.

    But the Asus ZenFone 2 is an Android phone. So it just raised the hardware bar in one of the two dominant and beloved OSs. Thus the bar was raised in an environment where it'll actually have repercussions, rather than one where the OS and its ecosystem cripples the marketability of superior hardware features.

    I yearn for true multitasking and more browser capability in portable devices, and my sense (though I'm not certain) is that the primary reason such capabilities aren't available is because most devices don't have enough DRAM to support them. (Maybe processor limitations are involved too, I don't know.) But when some firm overcomes those limitations in an economically competitive product, and does so in an iOS or Android environment where the achievement really matters, then in my view their competitors will have to follow suit. So I suspect 4 GB will become dominate for mid to high end smart phones moderately soon, especially if insufficient DRAM, rather than processor overburden, is the current primary bottleneck.

    I'm not convinced the article at http://bit.ly/1GsoMMM stated the 4 GB Asus ZenFone 2's price correctly though - a cursory check of AliExpress.com seems to indicate that when equipped with 4 GB DRAM and 32 GB storage it's a $430 phone. Nonetheless, my sense is that all other Android and iOS phones are now under greater pressure to offer more DRAM - I suspect the bar has been notably raised, and that the repercussions will at least nudge semiconductor storage firm bottom lines upward moderately soon. But we'll see...
    Mar 19, 2015. 08:30 PM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Micron: A Tough Quarter Before A Solid Second Half [View article]
    According to http://bit.ly/1GsoMMM, the $300 Asus top end ZenFone 2 Android phone's equipped with 4GB of DRAM. The article paints the device as pretty impressive. Jeez, I found myself thinking it might be fun to acquire one just for the existential joy of playing with it, even though I don't have the slightest actual practical need for it.

    I don't know whose DRAM's in it, but irrespective it seems to me to raise the cell phone DRAM bar a substantial notch. If a tough competitor's very impressive phone has more DRAM than your firm's similar or higher priced phone, beads of sweat are sure to form on your brow. And they won't stop until your firm's added some extra steroids to your phone too. Apple and Samsung, are you comfortable ceding phone market share to Asus?

    So is this planet now under pressure for every mid to top end phone to be equipped with no less than 4 GB of DRAM? Are we talking, in extremely rough numbers, about a rather near term doubling of demand for phone DRAM bits? If so, the implications aren't lost on anyone here of course...

    And as an intensely concentrated Micron long, I don't find such a prospect particularly offensive...
    Mar 19, 2015. 02:22 AM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
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