[News] Memory Giants Reportedly Increasing Prices, But Is the Market Outlook Truly Positive?

2024-04-15 Semiconductors editor

Recently, major memory manufacturers such as Micron, Samsung, and Western Digital have all announced price hikes. Industry sources indicate that since 1Q24, memory manufacturers stay steadfastly in controlling supply and raising prices. Coupled with the impact of the recent earthquake in Taiwan, the supply-demand imbalance has further driven up memory prices.

However, it’s worth noting that according to industry experts, the primary driving force behind the recent price increases in the memory market is still from manufacturers. As to the demand side, significant growth are mainly seen in industrial control needs, AI large models, and automotive intelligentization, while other fields have not yet seen obvious growth.

Regarding the impact of the 403 earthquake, TrendForce expects the influence on the output bit of DRAM in 2Q24 to remain within 1%. Specifically, due to Micron’s earthquake-related damages being more concentrated in advanced processes, TrendForce does not rule out the possibility of Micron’s Server DRAM final transaction prices increasing. The subsequent price trends still require observation.

  • Has Micron Increased Prices by More Than 20% in Q2?

On April 9th, Taiwanese media reported that Micron has proposed price increases of over 20% for its products in Q2 to most customers, with price negotiations still ongoing.

It is reported that after the earthquake on April 3, Micron temporarily suspended the announcement of DRAM product quotation for the second quarter.

Currently, TrendForce maintains its previous expectations for the second-quarter contract price of Mobile DRAM, with an increase of about 3-8% QoQ. As for Server DRAM, due to the earthquake-related damages to Micron being more concentrated in advanced processes, TrendForce does not rule out the possibility of Micron’s Server DRAM final transaction prices increasing, and the subsequent price trends still require observation. In regard to HBM, since most of Micron’s HBM 1beta production and TSV lines are located in Hiroshima, Japan, supply or price remain unchanged.

In the spot market, some module manufacturers like Kingston and ADATA have restarted quoting prices, but no price increase has been implemented yet. TrendForce believes that the earthquake’s impact on pushing up prices is limited.

Overall, due to the relatively low inventory of DDR3, there is still room for price increases. Whereas, DDR4 and DDR5 inventory is comparatively sufficient, coupled with weak demand, which are expected bring the situation of small consecutive price increases caused by the earthquake to return back to normal within a few days.

  • Western Digital Continuously Increases NAND Flash and HDD Prices

On April 8, Western Digital confirmed for the first time that there is a shortage of supply for both HDD and SSD, and issued formal customer letters notifying of price adjustments for NAND Flash and hard drive products. Western Digital stated that the demand for flash memory and hard drive products has exceeded expectations, leading to supply shortages. Prices for these products will continue to be adjusted this quarter, with some adjustments taking immediate effect.

Western Digital acknowledged that it will perform the frequent price reviewing and adjust it accordingly. Furthermore, Western Digital also stated that its ability to handle orders outside of the plan is quite limited, so any order changes need to be notified in advance.

  • Samsung Raises Prices of Enterprise SSD?

In the past two weeks, rumor has it that enterprise SSD fell into a supply shortage. According to industry sources, due to the optimistic outlook for SSD to become a part of AI in the future, paired with recent supply tensions, their prices have started to rise. Samsung is rumored to increase prices for enterprise SSD by 20-25% in 2Q24, reversing the downward trend seen in 2023.

Reportedly, Samsung initially planned to raise prices by about 15% compared to the previous quarter, but higher-than-expected demand led Samsung to expand the price hike. Samsung’s enterprise SSD accounts for approximately half of the market share, thus exerting a significant influence on pricing decisions.

A study by TrendForce on March 7 shows that in 4Q23, Samsung ranked first globally in the Enterprise SSD market with a market share of 41.7%, followed by SK Hynix (33.2%), Micron (10.8%), Kioxia (9.4%), and Western Digital (4.9%).

  • TrendForce Released Forecasts for DRAM and NAND Flash Contract Prices for 2Q24

In terms of overall price trends, TrendForce estimates that although the inventory of DRAM suppliers has decreased, it has not yet returned to a healthy level. Furthermore, as they gradually shake of the loss situation, suppliers are expected to further increase their capacity utilization rates.

However, due to the lackluster overall demand outlook for this year and the large price increases by suppliers since 4Q23, the momentum for inventory replenishment is expected to weaken. Therefore, TrendForce anticipates that the quarterly increase in DRAM contract prices in the second quarter will converge to 3-8%.

Regarding NAND Flash, TrendForce stated that, except for Kioxia and Western Digital, which have been increasing their capacity utilization rates since 1Q24, other suppliers are generally maintaining a low production strategy.

Although the procurement volume of NAND Flash in 2Q24 has declined slightly compared to 1Q24, the overall market climate continues to be influenced by reduced supplier inventory and the impact of production cuts. Consequently, TrendForce forecasts a strong increase of around 13-18% in NAND Flash contract prices in 2Q24.

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(Photo credit: Samsung)

Please note that this article cites information from DRAMeXchange.