TAIWAN: According to DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce, benefitting from continual inventory replenishment for the holiday season as well as account balancing at the end of 3Q, DDR3 4GB contract price stayed flat in 1HOct. DDR3 2Gb contract price fell slightly, by S$0.25 to $10.50.
While concluded transaction volume was low, as it is the quarter’s beginning, DRAM manufacturers were not under pressure to ship, hence the price cut in exchange for shipment situation did not reoccur. From the market perspective, while PC OEMs have been replenishing their inventory since September, they are generally unoptimistic about 4Q shipments as the global economic outlook remains uncertain.
As for the contract market, DDR3 2Gb chip price reached a new low today, arriving at less than $1. This is a reflection of both lower than expected demand after China’s National Holiday and the general pessimism towards DRAM market potential. TrendForce expects that as the market remains in a state of oversupply, conservative attitudes towards contract prices will continue to prevail.
DRAM makers push for 4GB to become mainstream, DDR3 4GB shipments to exceed DDR3 2GB in 4Q
As the global DRAM market was affected by disappointing economic growth and chip oversupply in 2011, chip price has been on a downward slide since the beginning of the year. After Japan’s March 11 earthquake initiated rumors of supply chain disruption, price increased to this year’s high of $36.5. However, with the gradual recovery of the industry, the European debt crisis, the rising US unemployment rate, and the overall shrinking of consumer markets, DDR3 4GB price began decreasing dramatically in May, with the current price of $19.5 representing a nearly 47 percent decrease.
On average, memory accounts for 6-7 percent of PC unit cost; the current DRAM price is merely 3.8 percent of total PC cost, a proportion higher only than the low of 3.6 percent reached during the global financial crisis in 2008. Furthermore, DRAM manufacturers are pushing for DDR3 4GB to become the mainstream of the market, as 4GB price is nearly 10 percent less than the price of two 2GB modules combined.
Thus, a portion of PC OEMs have already quietly increased the memory capacity of some of their models to 4GB in anticipation of holiday season demand. Looking towards 2012, total content per box may increase to an average of 4.2GB, mainly due to the rise of ultrabooks and the introduction of Windows 8. 4GB may become the mainstream specification for ultrabooks next year, which will benefit the overall memory market significantly as ultrabooks are expected to have 10 percent market share in 2012.
As for Windows 8, although its impact on content per box will be limited, it may stimulate a wave of upgrades; Microsoft’s next-generation operating system and the highly discussed ultrabook will be mutually beneficial.
TrendForce expects global NB content per box to gradually increase from 3.5GB in 3Q to 3.7GB in 4Q, representing a 3 percent growth, and DDR3 4GB shipment volume will surpass that of DDR3 2GB. As a large portion of DRAM makers will be mass producing 4Gb chips via 30nm process technology in 4Q, cost may be reduced by 20-25 percent, which will undoubtedly benefit DRAM makers already in the red.