Sony under investigation for SRAM price fixing?


— 10:27 AM on November 1, 2006

Adding to Sony's growing list of problems, which already includes recalled batteries, Blu-ray shortages, and severely-reduced PlayStation 3 shipping estimates, the company has now been probed by the U.S. Department of Justice as part of an investigation regarding the sale of Static RAM (SRAM) memory. The DoJ stayed mum on the exact nature of the investigation, only saying it was examining the "possibility of anticompetitive practices in the SRAM industry." However, on the same day, E.U. investigators raided five unnamed companies as part of a probe into potential price fixing for the same type of memory, suggesting the DoJ probe may also have to do with price fixing.

SRAM differs from more commonly-used DRAM in that it is faster and retains its content as long as it is powered. Uses for SRAM include hard drives, optical drives, and networking devices, but only small quantities are used. According to an iSuppli researcher quoted by Yahoo News, the SRAM market is shrinking because customers are moving to more space- and cost-efficient chips with integrated memory. Decreasing SRAM sales could have prompted the alleged price fixing scheme, although the iSuppli researcher calls the whole investigation a "tempest in a teapot" considering to the size of the SRAM market. Last year, SRAM sales amounted to $2.8 billion worldwide, compared to $24.8 billion for DRAM.

 
   
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