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  • Bullettrap - Sunday, October 28, 2007 - link

    So, how is the price of DDR3 coming along. It's seems a we bit high does'nt it. Should I be Suspicious. Lets hope this milking stops soon!
    Reply
  • Nighteye2 - Saturday, October 27, 2007 - link

    The fines may have been given in the name of justice, but along with all the extra costs, the companies will now have to make up for the loss - by further raising of memory prices. Thus, consumers pay too much twice - and the justice department reaps all the profits.
    Reply
  • Locutus465 - Friday, October 26, 2007 - link

    While what was done does seriously suck, I'm actually very glad R-DRAM is gone... In this case I think Memory OEM's saw Rambus trying to muscle them into a propriatary technology they would have to pay royalties for via the U.S. court system and decided to fight back. In the end, I'm glad this was done. Reply
  • Zoomer - Saturday, October 27, 2007 - link

    Yup. A very positive side effect indeed. Reply
  • magreen - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    Ok, I have a slick idea. The OEMs and memory manufacturers get together. The memory manufacturers price-fix to overcharge. By a billion $$. The OEMs pass that cost onto the consumers who foot the $1 billion bill. The OEMs cry foul to the DOJ who fines the memory manufacturers $d00 million and force them to pay $1 billion to the OEMs. But together, the OEMs and memory manufacturers are still up $500 million. They split the pot and call it a day. Reply
  • NanoTec - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    I was expecting a “review”, every other memory article states the known facts about the product then goes on to try to test those claims with benchmarks providing more information.

    Were these manufacturers stealing? Were they breaking laws?
    They were not forcing the consumer to buy memory or even charging one customer an exorbitant premium over another for the same product. They’re guilty of selling at the same price as their competitors.

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950...">1998: memory makers are accused of selling too cheaply “dumping”
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0...">2003: government decides you should pay 44% more
    These are just two convenient examples, there is much more to this issue.

    If one seeks an authoritative interpretation of the Sherman Antitrust act they need only see this paper by Alan Greenspan
    http://www.polyconomics.com/searchbase/06-12-98.ht...">HERE
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    They were found and pled guilty to operating a cartel to artificially fix memory prices, which is a very anticompetitive action. This is a crime in the United States, and most other capitalistic nations for that matter, regardless of if customers are being "forced" to buy the product or not. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=9410">SanDisk Sues 25 Flash Drive Manufacturers Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    Supposedly price fixing forced the OEMs to pay more, which they passed on to consumers. But then "end-users having purchased memory from [Crucial] are in a unique position of being one of the few (if not the only) groups of end-users that will see a dime out of this settlement." - So which is it? Do companies pass their costs and profits to consumers or not? There is no logical reason to assume a company that raises prices on its products to make up for increased costs won't also lower prices when it receives a windfall. Even if you believe all companies are inherently out to screw the customer, they still need to move product, and lowering prices while keeping profit levels the same (due to revenue from the suit) would be too good of an opportunity to pass up. Reply
  • RBBrittain - Saturday, October 27, 2007 - link

    U.S. Federal antitrust law only permits "direct purchasers" to recover in price-fixing situations. In this case, this means most of the money goes to the OEMs that purchased DRAM chips from cartel members.

    OEMs aren't legally required to return that money to the end users, though in a business sense it improves their profitability and thus allows them more leeway in cutting future prices to compete. In the mechanics of business, a price increase (like what the cartel did) is almost certain to reach the consumer "bottom line" (i.e., end-user prices) very quickly; but price decreases (like ending the cartel and the legal settlements) take much longer to "trickle down". You see it in gas prices all the time, though stronger day-to-day competition tends to make the "trickle down" happen faster in that market.

    Crucial is different because it's a direct-sales division of Micron, a member of the cartel. Unlike most end users, Crucial customers are "direct purchasers" from the cartel, so they're basically the only end users entitled to a recovery.

    In a few cases, end-user recoveries can be forced if the right people act, especially state attorneys general. (Yes, that IS correct grammar; in that case "general" is an adjective, so the noun "attorney" gets the "s".) Though a Federal court decision (known as the "Illinois Brick obstacle") limits state AG recoveries under Federal law to direct purchasers, a growing number of states have their own laws overruling that and allowing their AGs to recover on behalf of indirect purchasers as well.

    In a case involving the record industry (which used "minimum advertised price" policies to indirectly overcharge consumers for CDs in the late 1990s), enough AGs were able to sue that they forced a nationwide settlement which waived the "Illinois Brick obstacle" and reimbursed consumers in all 50 states. (There was also a related class action settlement with Columbia House and BMG record clubs--before BMG bought Columbia House--which was the legal equivalent of the Crucial settlement.)

    Finally, don't assume DOJ made money off the DRAM case (as one commenter did); those fines went to the U.S. Treasury and merely reduced the Federal deficit. DOJ has to get its money from Congress just like any other Federal agency.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    It's the belief of the OEMs that this overcharging came solely out of their profits. I agree it's not completely logical, since I too would assume they'd just end up driving down the cost of computers, but throughout the case this is what the OEMs have been claiming and why they're getting the lion's share of the settlement (and it isn't something I can immediately disprove). Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    Ok, well put, but in that case the consumers still didn't loose (except those that bought memory directly). If the OEM's ate the additional cost by lowering profits to maintain sales, then it's fine for them to make up for it now. The article however makes the claim the OEMs passed the cost onto the consumers (implying their profits stayed essentially the same) and are now taking in a windfall. Reply
  • PandaBear - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    This is what I hate about these "price fixing" lawsuit. The OEM charge more when the price goes up, and then sue the DRAM manufactures and keep all the money. The DRAM manufactures raise the price (or cut back on R&D or capacity improvement due to higher risk/lower profit) to pay it.

    With all these different DRAM manufactures around the world (Korea, Japan, US, Taiwan, and all the low end stuff in China now), and the market being commodity with spot and contract market trading, I would imagine it is almost impossible to price fix if the profit is there, because someone will break the deal and grab the profit in that case.

    When the lost is high (like right now), you can really sue them to cut back production to reduce loss or cut back in investment right? So how do you call that price fixing?






    DOJ should be suing the OPEC for price fixing oil instead, and ban all oil import until they break that price fixing scheme.
    Reply
  • Zoomer - Saturday, October 27, 2007 - link

    Actually, with a majority of the market with Taiwanese, Korean, and mainland chinese, I wouldn't rule out price fixing in the future. They just have to figure out how to better hide it.

    Perhaps they knew they would get caught, but decided to do it anyway to drive RAMBUS out of the market, once and for all. < / conspiracy theory>
    Reply
  • ZetaEpyon - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    That's not in reference to lower prices that might result, it's in reference to a direct cash payout as a result of the class-action lawsuits. I've already received a couple notices in the mail about the lawsuits, as I purchased memory directly from Micron a couple of times during those years. Reply
  • Olaf van der Spek - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    quote:

    However a second reason that has been proposed has been that the price-fixing was done to force RAMBUS's RDRAM out of the market at a time when they were beginning their patent suits.

    Why would price-fixing force RDRAM out?
    Wouldn't it affect all memory types equally?
    Reply
  • leexgx - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    R-DRAM was all ways overprced more the DDR ram and you needed to put them in pairs as well where as DDR only needed 1 slot

    only ever seen Dell pcs use (about 10 heh) it and some servers
    Reply
  • magreen - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    Interesting article but grammar and spelling were not up to par. Reply
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  • Owls - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    This felt like I was reading a high school report. Reply
  • Kishkumen - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    I'd have to agree. I'm tired of stumbling over the errors so I'm giving up after only reading the first couple of paragraphs. It appears to be an interesting article that could be easily corrected by some basic proof reading. Reply
  • 1078feba - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    Agreed.

    quote:

    And while this areas do in fact have issues from time to time, we would in fact miss the area that has issues the most and to the greatest extent. As it were to turn out, it would be the memory industry that is the greatest offender.


    I stopped reading after trying to muddle through this.
    Reply
  • Jodiuh - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    I was wondering why it took me so long to get through this one. Reply
  • Foxy1 - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    Per the "About" section of AT's website:

    "Responsible for maintaining the editorial calendar, Karen Clark is the last pair of eyes to see an article before it goes live. Karen uses her extensive experience in publishing to edit and prepare every article that appears on AnandTech."

    Perhaps she's on vacation this week?
    Reply
  • nullpointerus - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    She died some time ago. From what I have heard, the email account that she used to receive materials for proofreading was so large that the messages never started bouncing back. The writers just assumed that the articles were fine as-is. No one noticed that she was missing until her apartment building caught fire.

    j/k :)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, October 27, 2007 - link

    I actually took her place over 18 months ago, but no one bothered to update the "About Us" page. You'll notice that Ryan, Gary, and me are not listed - but then I'm not sure how many people ever go visit that page anyway. Anyway, there was some stuff going on this past week (NVIDIA Editor's Day) that took me away from the computer for a while, so there was no proofing or editing done by yours truly. I don't usually do much with Ryan's articles anyway, but I have gone through to try and tighten up the text and clean up any grammar or spelling mistakes. Glad to know I was (apparently) missed. :)

    --Jarred
    Reply
  • horatio777 - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    The use of 'baited breath' in the last paragraph is a pet peeve of mine. Is his mouth full of cheese?

    For the origin of *bated* breath see:
    http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-bai1.htm">http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-bai1.htm
    Reply
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