by Anton Shilov
10/11/2011 | 11:47 PM
In spite of seasonality and activities of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) producers to boost pricing of computer memory contract prices on 4GB DDR3 modules remained flat in the first half of October, according to DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce, market tracking company.
Benefitting from continual inventory replenishment for the holiday season as well as account balancing at the end of the third quarter, DDR3 2GB module contract price stayed almost flat in the first half of October and cost $10.5. The price of a 2Gb chip fell slightly, DRAMeXchange reports.
According to the market tracker, while concluded transaction volume was low, as it is the quarter’s beginning, 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 Q4 2011 shipments as the global economic outlook remains uncertain.
As for the contract market, DDR3 2Gb chip price reached a new low this week, 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.
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, 4GB module price increased to this year’s high of $36.5. However, with the gradual recovery of the industry, the European debt crisis, the rising U.S. 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% decrease.
On average, memory accounts for 6-7% of PC unit cost; the current DRAM price is merely 3.8% of total PC cost, a proportion higher only than the low of 3.6% 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% 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% 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% 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%, which will undoubtedly benefit DRAM makers already in the red.