Prices for new-generation computer memory chips, or DDR3, are expected to extend past a two-week uptrend this month as PC makers are shipping more PCs outfitted with more memory to encourage replacement demand, market researcher DRAMeXchange Technology Inc (集邦科技) said yesterday.
Supply constraints have driven the price up 23 percent for mainstream DDR3 chips to US$3.10 per unit, from US$2.45 apiece over the two-week period ending on Friday, the Taipei-based research house said in its latest report.
Demand for DDR3 chips is expected to surge in the first quarter as PC makers seek to boost shipments of computers equipped with DDR3 chips this quarter to make up 60 percent of their total PC shipments, DRAMeXchange said.
That would match plans by US chip giant Intel Corp. Intel intends to increase the share of its chipsets supporting DDR3 to 60 percent of its overall chipset shipments in the current quarter, the researcher said.
“The strong demand could cause tight supply of DDR3 chips in the first quarter, which used to be a slack season,” DRAMeXchange said. “Memory chipmakers expect contract prices to remain stable this month as PC makers have increased orders to cope with a possible shortage.”
Second-tier PC makers would face short supply of DDR3 chips because of limited production, the researcher said.
Shipments of notebook computers are expected to grow 22.5 percent to 196 million units this year, from 160 million units last year, as more PC users upgrade their operating system after the release of Microsoft Corp’s Windows 7 operating system, DRAMeXchange said.
Taiwan, once considered a major player in the DRAM sector, seems to have suffered as local DRAM companies saw serious losses in the latest industrial slump and cannot afford the expensive technological migration necessary to manufacture new chips in the most cost-effective manner.
Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技), the nation’s top DRAM maker, is the major DDR3 supplier in Taiwan. In October, the Taoyuan-based chipmaker said shipments of DDR3 could account for 40 percent of its total DRAM shipments at the end of last year, which could rise to 50 percent in the current quarter.
Smaller rival Powerchip Semiconductor Corp (力晶半導體) also started shipping DDR3 chips using less-advanced technology.
ProMOS Technologies Inc (茂德科技), Taiwan’s No. 3 DRAM supplier, only makes DDR2 chips and is in talks with local chipmakers to sell an advanced plant in Hsinchu to raise funds to buy new equipment.
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