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Micron, SanDisk and Dr. Memory

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Most of a lifetime ago, in 1971, the Firesign Theater did a phonoplay built around a futuristic, computer-driven society run by a machine called "Dr. Memory."

The play featured a DEC PDP-10 computer, running an artificial intelligence program called Eliza, written in the programming language Lisp. The programmer's struggle then was to get as much done in as little code as possible, to conserve precious memory.

Since then, Moore's Law has made memory anything but precious. Dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips, once confined only to a computer's internal workings because of their fast access speed, are becoming the primary means of storing data, replacing slower, and more mechanical, hard drives.

Which means these should be boom times for America's real Dr. Memory, Micron (MU - Get Report).

To an extent, they are. At $13.50 each, shares are near a 10-year high. Micron has completed the purchase of a Japanese rival, Elpida, which Micron's local paper, the Idaho Statesman, calls a "screamin' deal."

The agreement makes Micron a strong No. 2 in memory chips, behind only Samsung, at a time when Moore's Law has demand poised to take off.

It's taking off thanks in part to memory companies like SanDisk (SNDK - Get Report), which makes products such as a 64 Gbyte Wireless Media Drive that creates its own network, connects to your PC via a USB port, and can stream up to five different videos and connect eight devices for eight hours, on a single electrical charge.

The SanDisk device is just one example of how memory chips are replacing spinning aluminum hard drives, despite their immense capacities. (My son's PC now has more than 1 terabyte -- 1,000 gigabytes -- of storage, and he says it's obsolete.)

Another example of how the market for chip memory is expanding is Intel's (INTC) S3500 Solid State drive, built for cloud computing centers, with capacities of up to 800 Gbytes for less than $1,000.

This may be why analysts at both RBC and Sterne Agee have lately been pounding the table for both of these stocks, even though Micron is up 46% over the last three months and SanDisk is up by nearly one-third so far this year.

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