Micron to cut workforce by 15 percent, slash flash output

Company announces a restructuring of its memory operations. Move comes on the heels of quarterly loss and news that Micron was cutting executive pay.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
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After cutting executive pay last week, Micron Technology is now paring staff as it scales back flash memory chip production.

On the heels of reporting a $344 million fourth-quarter loss last week--when Micron said it was cutting executive pay 20 percent--the Boise, Idaho-based memory chip maker said Thursday that it was restructuring its memory operations.

Micron will reduce its global workforce by approximately 15 percent during the next two years. Most of the workforce cuts will occur in Boise.

"The combination of declining customer demand and product oversupply in the marketplace has driven selling prices for NAND flash memory significantly below manufacturing costs," Micron said in a statement.

As a result, IM Flash Technologies (IMFT), a joint venture between Micron and Intel, will discontinue the supply of NAND flash memory from Micron's Boise facility. The NAND operation shutdown will reduce IMFT's NAND flash production by approximately 35,000 (200 millimeter) wafers per month, Micron said.

NAND flash is used in flash drives for digital cameras and digital music players as well as solid-state drives.

Micron and Intel have other facilities that make NAND flash, including one in Lehi, Utah.

"Micron is in a strong position relative to our competitors...but we are not immune to the difficult global market conditions that are affecting us all," said Micron CEO Steve Appleton in a statement.

Cash restructuring and other related expenses are anticipated to be approximately $60 million and "next year's cash operating margin benefit is expected to exceed $175 million," Micron said.

Last week's red ink was Micron's seventh straight quarterly loss--and it reported a net loss for the entire 2008 fiscal year of $1.6 billion.

The memory chip industry overall is caught in a particularly brutal downward price spiral that is threatening the viability of even the largest players, including companies like Hynix.