DRAM chip prices to rise: expert

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Mar 31, 2014 - Page 13

The prices of computer DRAM chips are expected to rebound slightly this quarter on reduced supply after a drastic 13 percent decline over the past two months, market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said.

Overall this year, TrendForce expects the prices will continue to fall gradually as delays in the sale of Intel Corp’s new Boardwell chip set will overshadow the sale of new PCs in the third and fourth quarters, which are a seasonally strong period for the PC industry.

“PC makers hold conservative attitudes about seasonal demand in the second half of the year,” TrendForce analyst Avril Wu (吳雅婷) said in a report released last week.

Wu’s projection matches Nanya Technology Corp’s (南亞科技) previous forecast of a mild price decline this year, citing worsening supply constraints. Nanya Technology is the nation’s biggest PC DRAM chip supplier.

Shipments of desktop computers and laptop computers will shrink 6.6 percent this year to a total 276.7 million units from 296.1 million units last year, Gartner Inc forecast.

In contrast to uncertain PC demand, PC DRAM chip supply is expected to grow to tilt the supply-demand balance as the world’s major suppliers Samsung Electronics Co and SK Hynix Inc are boosting chip production in the slack season, the research house said.

Besides, Micron is aggressively migrating manufacturing technology to 25-nanometer technology, which will worsen the oversupply, it said.

Thanks to fewer suppliers after industry consolidation, this year will still be profitable for PC DRAM chipmakers, Wu said.

Wu attributes this quarter’s price rebound to fewer supplies from South Korean memory chip giants Samsung and Hynix, which allocated more factory capacity to make memory chips to meet the rising demand in smartphones, while producing fewer PC memory chips.

On the demand side, Wu said he expects no notable growth in PC shipments next quarter.

The price of the mainstream DDR3 4-gigabit 512Mx8 eTT has plunged 13 percent to US$3.53 per unit lately, compared with US$4.05 per unit at the end of January, due to weak demand in the slack season, according to TrendForce.

The contract chip price dropped only about 6 percent as the price is usually negotiated once a month during the same period of time, the researcher said.