Thu, Jan 22, 2015 - Page 14 News List

DRAM chip prices flat, but on the up

FORECAST:While PC DRAM chip prices are down due to seasonal factors, overall DRAM chip prices are expected to bounce back due to smartphone demand, analysts said

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Prices of PC DRAM chips are expected to drop by less than 6 percent month-on-month this month on seasonally weak demand for PCs rather than overcapacity, boding well for chipmakers’ profitability this year, TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said.

Prices for DRAM chips used in mobile phones remained flat this month from last month, while DRAM chips for servers fell by 1 percent to 3 percent, the local market researcher said.

However, prices for niche DRAM chips went up this month, against the overall downtrend, it said.

“The decline for PC DRAM chips is basically because of seasonal factors. No significant increase in supply is seen at this point,” TrendForce industry analyst Avril Wu (吳雅婷) said in a report on Tuesday.

In addition, overall DRAM chip prices are expected to rebound next quarter, backed by rising demand for smartphones, Wu said.

This year, new supply of PC DRAM chips is set to be limited, as the world’s major producers — including Samsung Electronics Co, Micron Technology Inc and SK Hynix Inc — are expected to boost output of memory chips used in mobile phones and servers to cope with rising demand, Wu said.

Locally, Powerchip Technology Corp (力晶半導體) plans to increase its output of 12-inch wafers by 30,000 a month for PC DRAM chipmaking in the first half of this year, Wu said.

However, Inotera Memories Inc (華亞科技), a DRAM joint venture between Micron and Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技), has shifted its focus to making DRAM chips used in servers rather than PCs, accounting for 60 percent of its total production, Wu said.

JPMorgan Securities Ltd forecast that Inotera’s overall capacity would fall 9 percent annually this year, while net income would drop slightly to NT$$43.01 billion (US$1.36 billion) from its estimate of NT$44.4 billion, according to a report released on Thursday last week.

Nanya Technology has also transformed itself into a specialty DRAM chipmaker and upgraded to 30-nanometer technology, a generation more advanced than its rivals, Wu said.

The technology advantage would allow Nanya Technology to enjoy respectful profits this year, she said.

In contrast to scant expansion in supply, DRAM chip demand is expected to rise this year.

Apple Inc is expected to double memory space for its new-generation iPhone to 2 gigabytes from the existing 1GB, which would cause other mobile phone brands to follow suit and consequently spur demand for DRAM chips, Wu said.

Rising demand and increasing supply of higher-priced DDR4 DRAM chips would help bolster DRAM prices this year, Wu said.

Shares in Nanya ended up 0.13 percent to NT$76.9 yesterday in Taipei trading, while DRAM modules Apacer Technology Corp (宇瞻) shares rose 0.61 percent to NT$32.8 and Inotera declined 1.22 percent to NT$44.65.

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