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Tuesday, March 11, 2008, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Suppliers hope Apple Newton pad boosts Flash orders

With the price of NAND flash memory slumping below manufacturers' cost, Taiwanese suppliers are looking towards Apple's next big thing in hopes that it will help revitalize the market later this year.

Citing sources at Taiwan memory makers, DigiTimes notes that despite procuring about $1.2 to 1.3 billion worth of NAND flash memory for its products in calendar year 2007, Apple has yet to place any substantial orders this year.

Although the Cupertino-based company recently introduced a solid-state disk (SSD) version of its MacBook Air, suppliers believe the steep retail price of that model will do little to encourage widespread consumption amongst consumers, "which can hardly spur meaningful SSD penetration and NAND flash procurement."

Instead, the memory makers are reportedly anticipating the launch of the company's first ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) as a possible catalyst to improve demand and boost NAND pricing later in the year.

Like the MacBook Air's 64GB SSD, the device is said to employ multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash, as opposed to single-level cell (SLC), which represents the latest and most dense form of flash memory.

For its processor, the tablet-like device is widely presumed to use Intel's Atom processor, which will eventually include a dual-core 1.87GHz model, according to a leaked Intel roadmap that made its way around the Web on Monday.