Sat, Sep 14, 2013 - Page 13 News List

DRAM chips’ price uptrend to continue

SHORT SUPPLY:The nation’s chipmakers are getting a boost from rising DRAM prices, which are being driven up by supply constraints caused by a fire at an SK Hynix plant

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Spot prices for PC DRAM chips are expected to continue rising over the next two months, because of a supply constraint following a fire at an SK Hynix Inc plant early this month, market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said yesterday.

As of Thursday, concern about a chip shortage has driven spot prices up 20 percent since the fire broke out at the South Korean firm’s plant in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China, on Sept. 4, the Taipei-based research house said.

The spot price for mainstream DDR3 chips yesterday rose 0.64 percent to US$1.884 per unit, according to the real time pricing posted on TrendForce’s Web site.

Trendforce expects SK Hynix, the world’s No. 2 DRAM supplier, to take at least two months to restore full operation at the plant, as the fire had destroyed some key equipment in the clean room and the smoke had contaminated other machines.

“As the blaze erupted in the clean room, it will be very difficult to recover damaged manufacturing equipment in the short term,” TrendForce said in a report released yesterday.

SK Hynix has sent about 100 experts and engineers from its headquarters in Icheon, South Korea, to fix the problem, it said.

Damage like this usually takes three to six months for a full recovery, TrendForce said, citing comments from unidentified semiconductor equipment experts.

“The production disruption will impact supply of DRAM [chips] to a certain extent,” TrendForce said.

Some PC makers have turned to Samsung Electronics, Micron Technology Inc and Taiwanese chipmakers to secure their chip supply, while others are even looking to DRAM module makers for supply, the researcher said.

“A short supply could occur and limit shipments by PC makers in the fourth quarter,” TrendForce said.

SK Hynix’s Wuxi plant can churn out 130,000 DRAM wafers a month, accounting for 10 percent of the global output, it said.

TrendForce added that concern over the shortage would lend support to contract prices. The researcher originally expected contract prices to slide in the second half of this year due to weak PC demand.

Boosted by the price uptick, the stock prices of Taiwan’s major PC DRAM chipmakers Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技) and Inotera Memories Inc (華亞科技) have soared about 16 percent and 15 percent to NT$4.20 and NT$13.50 respectively since Sept. 4.

The stock of the nation’s major DRAM module supplier, ADATA Technology Co (威剛), has also jumped about 11 percent during the period to close at NT$75.70 yesterday.

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