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It's been a few years since anyone heard a vendor talk about it. But, if the recovery continues as projected, a lot more customers will be told how they're on allocation. Amid a punishing recession, it seems bizarre that anyone should be talking about putting their chip-buying customers on allocation. But several companies have acknowledged that some, if not all, of their product lines are already being affected. The canary in the coal mine is the historically volatile market for memories, particularly DRAMs and flash. Micron Technology supplies both technologies. Steve Appleton, its chairman and CEO, said this while announcing the company's Q4 financials late last month: "It appears that industry supply growth and capital spending are at extremely low levels, leaving many products on allocation. We remain optimistic that these trends will continue."That the supply situation will get worse is not a given. According to the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) latest World Economic Outlook, the possibility of a 'double-dip' recession cannot yet be discounted even if current data show the world economy beginning to recover. The IMF's main concern is that private demand, including consumer spending, is not showing enough strength to restore consistent global GDP growth by replacing public sector stimulus spending. In this context, it seems almost perverse to raise the prospect of severe product shortages in key technology sectors nevertheless, they now look certain for semiconductors. Generally, it is a looming problem. 'Allocation', for those unfamiliar with the term, is chip-speak for'rationing'. Appleton added that the $750m-$850m that Micron has set aside for capex in the current financial year will be "focused around getting more out of existing facilities". No new lines and certainly no new fabs will be added as the supply crunch intensifies.