DRAM, NAND supplies for 'iPhone 8' tight in global shortage of components

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Apple's 2017 iPhone production may be impacted by an industry-wide shortage of DRAM has been compounded by a production problem at a Micron plant, and aggravated by low yields of 3D NAND production from Apple suppliers SK Hynix and Toshiba.

An incident at a fabrication plant has resulted in the loss of some quantity of DRAM, which will further stress supplies of the commodity, industry wide. Early reports cited by DigiTimes, declaring that nitrogen mishandling caused the problem, claim that up to 50 percent of the wafers in production were trashed as a result of an incident, with TrendForce estimating that 5.5 percent of the global production for July was impacted.

Micron has acknowledged that there was an incident, but differs about the impact to global supply — but shared no numbers on losses.

"Regarding recent rumors about Micron's fabrication facility in Taoyuan, Taiwan, Micron hereby clarifies that there was no nitrogen leaking incident nor evacuating of personnel," Micron said in a statement to Reuters. "There was indeed a minor facility event but operations are recovering speedily without material impact to the business."

The facility in question, the ex-Inotera Memories foundry, is known to have produced LPDDR4 iPhone RAM in the past.

Apple has historically caused strain on the DRAM supply when it ramps up iPhone production. As a result of Apple's seasonal production demands, and the fabrication facility accident prices across the board for mobile and desktop RAM are expected to keep climbing for the remainder of the year

3D NAND shortages forcing Apple to use Samsung as a supplier, again

Other reports from the supply chain suggest that Sk Hynix and Toshiba are having lower than expected yield rates of 3D NAND flash storage chips, first used in the iPhone 7, and destined for the new batch of iPhones expected in the fall. Apple has other suppliers for the technology, including Samsung, so it is not clear how much of a problem the industry-wide shortage will be.

While less commoditized than DRAM, 3D NAND is still an important technology in the industry. Supplies of the storage chip aren't expected to ease until the middle of 2018, also according to TrendForce.

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