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RAM now two a penny

Memory prices drop by 85 percent

Considering a PC memory upgrade? Don't stop with a measly 64MB of SDRAM. More memory is always better, and the price is right to leap 128MB or beyond - and reap significant performance gains.

Prices have dropped dramatically over the past year. For example, last summer memory vendor Crucial Technology was offering a 128MB Dimm of PC133 memory for $140 on its website. Today the site sells that same product for $27.50. Crucial's 256MB SDRAM product sold for $314 a year ago; now it is priced at $47 (an 85 percent drop).

And if you're still considering that 64MB upgrade, Crucial will sell you a PC100 version for $21.59 - just six dollars less than the 128MB product.

Even punch-drunk PC firms, stunned from the dramatic slump in the home computer market, are taking advantage of the lower costs, says Sherry Garber, senior vice president of memory market research firm Semico Research.

Most PC makers are now offering their low-end products with 128MB of memory, she says. Mid-range products are shipping with 192MB, and 256MB of RAM will continue to be the standard configuration for high-end desktops at least through the rest of the year.

So what do memory-starved PCs owe this harvest of RAM? Simple forces of supply and demand say experts.

The PC memory industry has a history of tumultuous ups and downs, says Mike Bokan, general manager at Crucial. But the current price situation is the most dramatic he's ever seen.

PC manufacturers are the biggest consumers of PC memory, he says. When PC sales began to drop off last year, vendors required less memory. However, memory makers continued to pump out its product. It wasn't long before the supply of RAM was out of balance with what the industry actually needed. To sell off the excess, memory sellers dropped prices dramatically.

In time, supply and demand will even out and prices will likely rebound, Bokan says.


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