[News] Memory Giants Plan DDR5, HBM Expansion; No Immediate Impact on Taiwanese DDR4 Pricing

The recovery of the memory industry is evident, with Taiwanese companies such as Macronix, Nanya Technology, and Transcend all showing month-on-month revenue growth in December last year. Additionally, contract prices for DRAM and NAND Flash are expected to continue rising in the first quarter of 2024. However, the global second-largest memory manufacturer, SK Hynix, plans a expansion, introducing a variable element to the memory market.

According to a report by the Commercial Times, SK Hynix disclosed that it might reduce the scale of DRAM production cuts in the first quarter, while adjustments to the NAND Flash production strategy may occur in the second or third quarter, depending on the situation.

In response to major memory manufacturers’ expansion plans, Taiwanese memory firms believe that Hynix’s expansion should focus primarily on DDR5 and HBM (High-Bandwidth Memory) products. Nevertheless, Taiwan currently specializes in DDR4 products, and it is not expected to impact product pricing.

According to a press release from TrendForce published this week, the DRAM contract prices are estimated to increase by approximately 13–18% in 1Q24 with mobile DRAM leading the surge. It appears that due to the unclear demand outlook for the entire year of 2024, manufacturers believe that sustained production cuts are necessary to maintain the supply-demand balance in the memory industry.

For consumer DRAM, manufacturers are aggressively raising contract prices, which has prompted buyers to stockpile early. This has greatly improved purchasing momentum. However, the first quarter coincides with the industry’s off-season, and end sales are expected to be weak and lead to increased inventory levels due to buyers’ early stocking strategies.

Manufacturers generally believe that in 2024—with the expanding penetration of HBM and DDR5 each quarter—low-margin DDR4 capacity will be crowded out, thereby leading to shortages. As such, DDR4 contract prices are expected to outpace DDR3 in the first quarter by 10–15%. DDR3 continues to be supplied by Taiwanese manufacturers, and with generally high inventory levels, its contract price increase is estimated at 8–13% for 1Q24.

(Image: SK Hynix)

Please note that this article cites information from Commercial Times


[News] Nanya Technology Optimistic About DRAM Market, Expects Possible Supply Shortage and Turnaround in H2

Pei-Ing Lee, the General Manager of Nanya Technology, a major DRAM manufacturer, mentioned on January 10th that this year has seen an upward trend in DRAM prices

According to Economic Daily News citnig from Nanya Technology’s earnings call for 23Q4,  this trend is attributed to the resurgence of the smartphone market, increased demand fueled by AI, and the three major memory manufacturers pivoting towards DDR5 production. This shift is advantageous for depleting DDR4 inventory and could potentially result in a supply shortage.

Having endured over a year of downturn in the memory market, Lee expressed an optimistic outlook by stating that “there is a possibility of future supply shortages,” revealing an overall positive trajectory for the DRAM market.

Lee acknowledged that the DRAM market faced challenges last year, resulting in stagnant bit sales for Nanya Technology. However, he anticipates a better scenario this year, noting the upward trend in DDR4 pricing. The timing for DDR3 price increases is expected to follow but at a slower pace. Lee further stated that DDR3 constituted about 40% of Nanya Technology’s revenue  in the past, but it is expected to decrease, with DDR4’s share rising.

Due to major international players focusing on High-Bandwidth Memory (HBM) and DDR5, he anticipates a potential supply shortage for DDR4 this year.

Lee pointed out that the growth in AI demand is positively impacting the DRAM market. The shift from high-end HBM and DDR4 to DDR5 is influencing demand, showing improvement quarter by quarter.

Regarding pricing trends, he confirmed a rebound in prices in the fourth quarter of 2023 and expressed optimism for a gradual upward trend in 2024. However, Lee cautioned that external variables such as geopolitical tensions, the war in Europe, and the U.S.-China trade dispute could still impact the market’s recovery momentum.

In terms of demand, Lee highlighted four key points. Firstly, server demand is driven by AI servers, with a focus on observing IT spending by U.S. cloud companies. Secondly, the introduction of new smartphones, leading to an increase in average DRAM capacity, especially in AI smartphones boosting the high-end smartphone market. Presently, improving smartphone sales in China are observed, and the recovery momentum of the Chinese economy is crucial.

In the PC application sector, Lee mentioned that inventory is gradually returning to normal levels, and AI PCs will simultaneously boost the high-end PC market. As for consumer electronic terminal products, demand for IP cameras, networking, industrial control, and automotive applications is relatively healthy, with consumer electronic products expected to show stable growth in 2024.

In terms of technological advancements, Nanya Technology aims to begin small-scale production of DDR5 products at the end of the third quarter of this year. Initially applied in servers and partly in PCs, the first product is expected to achieve a bandwidth of 5600MHz, while the second product is currently in the design phase, with an estimated bandwidth of 6400MHz.

Lee explained that their second DDR5 product will utilize third-generation processes, aiming to further improve cost structures, increase speed, achieve a target of 6400 MHz, and possess the capability for high density and 3D IC technology.

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(Photo credit: Nanya Technology)

Please note that this article cites information from Economic Daily News


[Tech Recap and Glimpse 5-5] Changes in the Landscape of the AI Chip Market After a Year of NVIDIA’s Dominance

Major Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) continue to see an increase in demand for AI servers over the next two years. The latest projections of TrendForce indicate a global shipment of approximately 1.18 million AI servers in 2023, with a year-on-year growth of 34.5%. The trend is expected to persist into the following year, with an estimated annual growth of around 40.2%, constituting over 12% of the total server shipments.

NVIDIA, with its key products including AI-accelerating GPU and the AI server reference architecture HGX, currently holds the highest market share in the AI sector. However, it is crucial to monitor CSPs developing their own chips and, in the case of Chinese companies restricted by U.S. sanctions, expanding investments in self-developed ASICs and general-purpose AI chips.

According to TrendForce data, AI servers equipped with NVIDIA GPUs accounted for approximately 65.1% this year, projected to decrease to 63.5% next year. In contrast, servers featuring AMD and CSP self-developed chips are expected to increase to 8.2% and 25.4%, respectively, in the coming year.

Another critical application, HBM (High Bandwidth Memory), is primarily supplied by major vendors Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron, with market shares of approximately 47.5%, 47.5%, and 5.0%, respectively, this year. As the price difference between HBM and DDR4/DDR5 is 5 to 8 times, this is expected to contribute to a staggering 172% year-on-year revenue growth in the HBM market in 2024.

Currently, the three major manufacturers are expected to complete HBM3e verification in the first quarter of 2024. However, the results of each manufacturer’s HBM3e verification will determine the final allocation of procurement weight for NVIDIA among HBM suppliers in 2024. As the verifications are still underway, the market share for HBM in 2024 remain to be observed.

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(Photo credit: NVIDIA)


[News] Improvement in Memory Inventory Leads to First Price Increase in Two and a Half Years

After more than two years of stagnation in the memory market, which was exacerbated by production cuts from major players like Samsung and Micron earlier this year, the issue of overstock has finally seen improvement.

As per Nikkei’s report, this has driven an increase in prices for DRAM, marking the first such occurrence in nearly two and a half years. Observers are optimistic that the memory market will hit bottom this year, with a recovery and growth expected in 2024.

According to TrendForce’s data, the contract price for the DDR4 8GB, considered a benchmark product for DRAM, reached USD 1.50 in October, a 15.4% increase from September and the first increase since July 2021. The contract price for the same product continued to rise in November by 10%, reaching USD 1.65.

In addition to the DDR4 8GB product, other specifications of DRAM contract prices generally experienced monthly increases of around 10% in October this year. Generally, memory contract prices are determined collaboratively by chip suppliers and corporate customers, and an increase in contract prices signifies an advantage for suppliers.

There are signs of a bottoming out and rebound in the DRAM market in the third quarter of this year. TrendForce indicated that the global DRAM market’s revenue increased by 18% compared to the previous quarter, reaching USD 13.48 billion.

This growth, reportedly, is primarily attributed to production cuts by major suppliers throughout the year, gradually restoring balance to the market supply and demand.

The report also reflects on the pandemic period, noting that the global surge in remote work initially led to a sharp increase in demand for memory. However, as the pandemic gradually subsided in 2021, market demand cooled.

Additionally, persistent challenges such as high inflation and interest rates impacting consumer spending weakened demand for PCs and various consumer electronic devices. This, in turn, led to global oversupply in memory, causing prices to decline consistently.

Major DRAM manufacturers, including Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron, have been reducing production since the beginning of this year, and they have recently managed to reverse the downturn.

Samsung reported a 16% revenue growth in the third quarter, while SK Hynix achieved an impressive growth rate of 34.4%. Despite a decline in average selling prices, Micron’s third-quarter chip shipment growth contributed to an overall revenue growth of 4.2%.

Moreover, the global NAND Flash market saw a 2.9% sequential increase in revenue in the third quarter, and a growth rate of 20% is anticipated for the fourth quarter, according to TrendForce’s latest research.

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(Photo credit: Samsung)

Please note that this article cites information from Nikkei 


[News] DDR3 Memory Market Rebounds: Winbond, Etron, and ESMT Gain Momentum with Growing Orders

According to Economic Daily News’ report, the DDR3 market is experiencing a surge in prices, with an almost 10% short-term increase. Contract prices for this quarter are expected to rise by 10% to 15%, with a continued optimistic outlook for the first quarter of next year.

Market analysts point out that global leaders like Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron currently dominate standard DRAM and NAND Flash. Taiwan-based companies are unable to compete with them in chip production, except for module companies which have the potential to capitalize on the rebound of the DRAM and NAND market due to their advantage of low-cost inventory.

On the other hand, DDR3 production remains primarily under Taiwan’s purview, and the price surge is significant, providing substantial assistance to Taiwanese memory industry players.

Industry sources indicate that the main impetus behind the current memory market upswing stems from the continual reduction in production by major international manufacturers. With tightening capacities, they are strictly controlling shipments, displaying their determination to support the price increases.

Besides, companies like Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron are actively venturing into AI applications, shifting their main capacity to produce high-bandwidth memory, DDR5, and other advanced areas. This shift has created room in the DDR3 market. Recent replenishment of inventories on the client end, along with a surge in orders for consumer electronics, has been witnessed.

TrendForce indicated that DDR3 prices have been steadily rising since September. The cumulative increase for DDR3 4Gb has reached nearly 10%, while DDR3 2Gb has shown a cumulative rise of 14%; regarding contract prices, TrendForce expects a robust increase of 10% to 15% for this quarter, with a continued strength forecasted for the first quarter of next year, likely to rise another 5% to 10%.

DDR3-related companies are optimistic about market developments. Etron believes that with inventory digestion coming to an end, “the cyclical bottom is over,” and they are gradually heading towards the dawn of recovery. They hold a positive outlook for significant growth in the global DRAM market next year.

ESMT, on the other hand, continues to advance the progress of their in-house products. They are continuously developing new products in DRAM, Flash, and MCP, expanding into different markets. This includes accelerating the development of 19-nanometer DRAM, achieving mass production of 28-nanometer NAND Flash, and researching niche memory products for automotive applications.

Winbond’s General Manager, Pei-Ming Chen, points out that their operations for this quarter will be better than the third quarter and they have a positive view of the DRAM market for next year.

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(Photo credit: Unsplash)

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