In a serious threat to personal computer clonemakers, and potentially all personal computer makers without a captive line of supply, prices of 256K memory chips have been soaring in the US over the past month and are expected to go higher. In New York, 120nS 250Ks, the favoured chip for fast clones, were $3.95 at the end of December but have been rising by 50 cents a week and are now in the $7 to $8 range, $6 in very large lots – and suppliers expect them to go higher in the next few weeks. According to Technology News of America’s contacts, supply and demand are not likely to balance before the third quarter. Reasons for the soaring prices are in part the fall of the dollar against the yen, but much more the fact that Japanese manufacturers have turned much of their capacity over 1M-bit parts – they are currently around the $30 mark in small quantities. While bad for users, the news bodes well for the one surviving US manufacturer, Micron Technology Inc. Here in the UK, most distributors were loath to talk, but Semi ICs Ltd said that the price would be UKP2.30 by the end of February, against UKP2.10 now, and UKP1.80 before Christmas. And the reason is shortage: the company was getting 75,000 a month in December, now it is getting just 5,000 a month; most suppliers are coming to the end of three- or four-month price cycles, and no-one is prepared to speculate on where prices will be pitched for the next cycle.