Tue, May 15, 2018 - Page 12 News List

DRAM prices to lose steam: researcher

EXCEEDED BUYERS’ LIMITS:The world’s top three DRAM chip suppliers last quarter saw their profit margin soar to unprecedented levels, TrendForce said

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

An uptrend in DRAM prices is to decelerate this quarter, as the prices have exceeded buyers’ tolerance following a slew of hikes over the past year, TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said yesterday.

Continuous price increases have seen global DRAM chipmakers’ revenue hit a high of US$23.08 billion in the first quarter of this year, compared with US$21.9 billion in the final quarter of last year, according to the market researcher’s tally.

Fueled by strong demand for memory chips used in cryptocurrency mining, prices for graphics accelerator DRAM last quarter surged 15 percent from the previous quarter, outpacing an average price increase of 3 to 6 percent for other types of DRAM chips, TrendForce said.

Price increases have helped Samsung Electronics Co, the world’s biggest memorychip maker, to post revenue of US$10.36 billion for last quarter, a historical high, the researcher data.

The world’s top three DRAM chip suppliers — Samsung, SK Hynix Inc and Micron Technology Inc — saw their profit margin soar to unprecedented levels of 69 percent, 61 percent and 58 percent, respectively, TrendForce said.

“The profitability of the top suppliers has far exceeded buyers’ acceptable limit,” TrendForce senior analyst Avril Wu (吳雅婷) said in a report released yesterday. “This implies that the hikes in quotes will likely start to moderate in the second quarter.”

Prices of PC DRAM chips this quarter are expected to rise 3 percent quarter-on-quarter to an average of US$34 per unit, as the world’s major suppliers allocate more capacity to produce higher-margin DRAM chips used in servers, it said.

In addition, most of the supply from new DRAM fabs would not be available until the end of this year, the researcher said.

Global DRAM chipmakers are to continue to post record profits this quarter, benefiting from price increases and a better cost structure due to technological migration, TrendForce said.

Samsung, which commands about a 45 percent share of the worldwide DRAM market, is to have 18-nanometer technology account for 50 to 60 percent of its total output this year, TrendForce said.

It plans to produce DRAM using next-generation 16-nanometer technology at a new fab in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, it said.

Micron Technology is expected to convert all of its capacity at a Taichung fab into 17-nanometer technology by the end of this year and to start upgrading its Taoyuan fab to 17-nanometer technology from 20-nanometer, it said.

Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技), the nation’s biggest DRAM chipmaker, is to continue to see improving production yield for its 20-nanometer technology, which would lift its operating profit margin later this year, from last quarter’s 44.3 percent, the market researcher said.

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