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Micron to Invest $100M in AI Companies, $1M in AI Research

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Micron Technology MU, recently announced that it will spend $100 million in various artificial intelligence (AI) companies, especially hardware and software startups working on AI.

Micron Foundation, the non-profit arm of Micron Technology, also announced that it will support universities and non-profit organizations in their research on AI) with a grant of $1 million.

These investments by Micron follow investments of similar magnitude which have been made by magnates like Intel INTC and NVIDIA Corp. NVDA in recent years.

With these investments, the company aims to provide a push to advancements in AI and machine learning in order to maximize the benefits of the technologies in its offerings.

Micron offers both DRAM and NAND memory products in mobile phones and data center servers. DRAM chips are a key component in PCs, while NAND flash chips are critical for portable electronic devices. These, along with graphic chips are also important in building the fundamentals of self-driving cars — a favorite area of the company.

Due to the increasing demand for automated cars which require the storage of huge amount of data and lightning fast calculations, possible only with the support of machine learning, the adoption of these technologies is becoming so vital. We note that AI and machine learning are key drivers in the growing adoption of flash memory.

How AI Will Benefit Micron

Per MarketsandMarkets, the AI market is projected to reach $190.6 billion by 2025, witnessing a CAGR of 36.62% during the 2017-2025 period. Micron seems to be cashing in on this opportunity by making significant investments in this area.

Moreover, according to researchers at Micron, a typical machine learning training workload runs on six times the amount of DRAM, and twice the solid state drive capacity of a standard cloud server. This indicates the magnitude of workload capacity and memory content that machine learning can handle.

With advancements in AI, management believes that it can increase the sales of its DRAM and NAND memory chips, which have recently been witnessing a downtrend in prices.


Weakness in DRAM & NAND Prices Poses Concern

Till the second quarter of 2018, Micron's business had continued to benefit from surging demand for both DRAM and NAND in mobile phones and data center servers.

However, per DRAMeXchange, the research division of TrendForce, contract prices of DRAM started weakening in the third quarter, recording mere 1-2% sequential growth despite being the traditional peak season. The research team also projected the prices to fall 5% or more sequentially in the current (fourth) quarter, putting an end to the growth trend.

DRAMeXchange also indicated that NAND flash contract prices are expected to fall another 10-15% in the current quarter, after recording a 10% sequential fall in the previous quarter.

This weakness was a result of a lull in demand for consumer electronics coupled with oversupply in the DRAM and NAND market.

However, advancements in AI and machine learning will ensure the gradual stabilization of demand and supply in the addressable markets, impacting Micron’s prospects.

Zacks Rank & a Key Pick

Micron currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

A top-ranked stock in the broader Computer and Technology industry is Vishay Intertechnology, Inc. VSH, sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Long-term earnings growth for Vishay is pegged at 9.16%.

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