updated 06:30 pm EDT, Thu April 3, 2014
Analyst notes mystery $250M payment to buyer of Apple RAM supplier Elpida
Independent analyst Matt Margolis has reported on a mysterious $250 million payment to memory maker Micron, which in turn last summer bought out another memory manufacturing firm, Elpida, for $2 billion. Among Elpida's many customers, one in particular has a habit of being both secretive and willing to pay large sums in advance to procure supply -- Apple. If the payment is from the iPhone maker, it may be trying to lock in supplies of Micron's new LPDDR4 DRAM.
Apple had previously used Elpida DRAM for its latest iPhones and iPad models running the A7 processor, which includes 1GB of Elpida's RAM. Micron has said that its new LPDDR4 DRAM, building upon the LPDDR3 that Apple and others are currently using, is more power efficient and features 2x more bandwidth -- resulting in both improved performance and longer battery life for tablets and smartphones. It would seem a safe bet that Apple will want to use the new technology in future products, such as the future "iPhone 6" or next-generation of iPads.
The new Micron RAM could also find its way into Mac products where power efficiency is key, such as the company's MacBook line. The unnamed pre-payment deal extends through September of 2016, which Margolis speculates could tie into Apple's traditional timeframe for the release of new iPhones and iPads. Should Apple turn out to be the mystery buyer, this would mean that it expects to use Micron's future DRAM products for the next two years at least.