In the tech world, DRAM is radioactive. In November, Infineon Technologies ( IFX) announced it was spinning off its DRAM memory-chip business. And Micron Technology ( MU) has crafted a strategy that revolves around whittling down the mix of commodity DRAM within its product portfolio in favor of products such as image-sensor semiconductors. It's hard to blame them. Last year's precipitous decline in DRAM prices, by some accounts up to 50%, ravaged the top line at each of those companies. But according to some industry watchers, the $25 billion DRAM business is undergoing a transformation. The volatile, highly commoditized memory market is evolving into a more complex business that could bring greater financial stability to these chipmakers. And though investing in memory-chip companies once meant betting on the DRAM industry as a whole, the financial performance of memory companies no longer moves in lockstep with industry fortunes. The DRAM industry used to be an all-or-nothing proposition, says Nam Hyung Kim, an analyst with electronics research firm iSuppli. "Everybody made money, everybody lost money." Today, says Kim, a company's particular focus, cost structure and strategy can help it break out of the pack. "It's not really a simple calculation anymore," he says. Driving the change has been demand for different flavors of DRAM used in devices beyond the desktop PC, as well as the growing popularity of NAND flash, a type of memory that retains data even when the power supply is cut off. DRAM today comes in several different interfaces as well as in versions designed for low-power consumption, graphics or other special tasks. With this broad variety of memory products all based on similar materials and manufacturing processes, memory makers can now shift factory resources to different products in response to market conditions.