updated 11:10 pm EST, Mon January 2, 2012
Elpida and Toshiba could make memory powerhouse
Japanese memory firms Elpida and Toshiba were reported as talking to unite or even being pushed together. Industry tips to Digitimes had the Japanese government acting as a broker to have Elpida match its RAM business with Toshiba's flash memory. The government would hope to hedge against the incursions of Korean and American companies like Hynix, Intel, and Samsung.
The hope would be for a mostly one-way contribution, according to speculation. Elpida's focus on mobile RAM and high performance could roll into Toshiba flash storage on smartphones. It's not clear what if anything Toshiba could contribute from permanent flash storage to RAM, although it has a stronger focus on density and could help Elpida increase its capacity.
Neither of the prospective partners commented on the possible talks.
Apple and other companies that lean heavily on flash memory might be impacted by any union. Most such firms are interested in having a stronger, more consistent supply chain, and Apple is rumored to be shifting more attention to Japan to reduce its dependency on lawsuit target Samsung.
Consolidation in Japanese high technology has been accelerating. In November, Hitachi, Sony, and Toshiba formed Japan Display to streamline making mobile and computer displays. The aftermath of the northern Japan earthquake and a still-tough economy may have steered some companies towards alliances to mitigate risk.