[News] CXMT Launches First Domestic LPDDR5, Collaborating with Industry Partners for Market Expansion

On November 28, CXMT revealed its latest DRAM product, LPDDR5. As the first Chinese brand to independently develop and manufacture LPDDR5 products, CXMT marks a breakthrough in the Chinese market and broadens its product reach in the mobile terminal market, reported by MooreNews.

CXMT’s LPDDR5, the fifth generation of low-power double data rate synchronous dynamic random access memory, boasts a 50% increase in single-die density and speed compared to LPDDR4X, respectively reaching 12Gb and 6400Mbps. Notably, power consumption is reduced by 30%. Featuring robust RAS features, including on-die error correction code (ECC) for real-time error correction, LPDDR5 enable data security and system stability. The 12GB LPDDR5 chip from CXMT is the first product adopting Package on Package (PoP) stacking for the company.

The launch of LPDDR5 by CXMT enhances the quality and reduces costs for personal and business applications, further expanding its footprint in the mobile market. As the first company in launching independently developed and manufactured LPDDR5 products in China, CXMT accelerates the industrialization of the DRAM industry, spearheading the Chinese DRAM industry into the LPDDR5 era.

LPDDR5 chips bring faster speeds and lower power consumption to mobile electronic devices, significantly improving overall product performance. According to CXMT’s website, LPDDR5 products have already received validation from major Chinese smartphone brands such as Xiaomi and Transsion, with plans to expedite overall market commercialization.

In its product lineup, CXMT specializes in DRAM design, with DDR4, LPDDR4X, and DDR4 modules catering to diverse storage needs in terms of performance, capacity, and usage. Collaborating through joint research and development with leading customer companies, CXMT delivers highly customized integrated solutions, effectively meeting the varied demands of the market. The introduction of LPDDR5 further solidifies CXMT’s position in the mobile market.
(Image: CXMT)


[News] Beyond Price Hikes, What Lies Ahead for the Memory Market?

Stepping into the fourth quarter of 2023, the memory market is witnessing a comprehensive uptick in DRAM and NAND Flash prices. This surge, attributed to the gradual impact of companies’ production cuts and sustained robust demand in specific application markets, is poised to continue into the first quarter of the following year.

TrendForce’s analysis reveals an estimated 13-18% increase in Mobile DRAM contract prices for the fourth quarter, while eMMC and UFS NAND Flash contracts are expected to see a rise of about 10-15%. Looking forward to the first quarter of 2024, the upward trajectory in overall memory prices is anticipated to persist. The contract prices for Mobile DRAM and NAND Flash (eMMC, UFS) are expected to continue ascending, contingent on whether companies uphold a conservative production strategy and if there’s tangible consumer demand support at the end.

The memory market, coming out of its challenging phase, is not just experiencing increases in prices but is also anticipated to gain momentum from various factors contributing to its revival.

AI-Driven Surge in Smartphone Memory Capacities

According to reports from Wccftech, a notable trend in 2024 is the rise of terminal AI, now integrated into various chipsets like Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, Dimensity 9300, and Exynos 2400. Smartphones with AI demand more memory, with the expectation that Android phones featuring built-in AI will require a minimum of 20GB RAM.

While 8GB RAM remains the standard for Android phones, there are now phones in the market boasting higher RAM capacities than most laptops or PCs, though it has yet to become ubiquitous. Industry experts suggest that to smoothly execute AI image feature in the future, Android phones will need at least 12GB RAM. Considering AI applications and other features, phones will require over 20GB RAM for seamless operations.

Given that numerous Android phone brands are actively investing in AI, 2024 is poised to make AI a focal point for devices. Consequently, the industry underscores that as RAM requirements rise, hardware specifications become more crucial than ever for modern AI devices.

Noteworthy Growth in DDR5 Market Demand

Industry experts anticipate significant growth in demand for the DDR5 market, fueled by decreasing prices and the continuous improvement in companies’ yields.

As a high-value-added DRAM, DDR5 continues to garner favor from major players. Micron recent announcement of DDR5 memory based on 1β technology, boasting speeds of up to 7200 MT/s, signifies a shift toward the data center and PC markets.

Recently, Micron also introduced a 128GB DDR5 RDIMM memory utilizing 32Gb chips. This series boasts speeds of up to 8000 MT/s and is suitable for server and workstations. Employing Micron’s 1β technology, these series contribute to a 24% improvement in energy efficiency and 16% reduction in latency. Furthermore, Micron plans to launch models with speeds of 4800 MT/s, 5600 MT/s, and 6400 MT/s in 2024, with an upcoming model featuring a speed of 8000 MT/s in the future.

In terms of Samsung, it is reported to expand its DDR5 production line. Given the high value of DDR5 and its adoption in the PC and server markets, this year is considered a “year of large-scale adoption of DDR5.”

Improvement in HBM Supply Situation

Similar to DDR5, HBM, a high-value-added DRAM, has attracted significant attention this year. Fueled by the AI trend, the demand for the HBM market has surged, leading to an expansion in HBM production capacity.

TrendForce’s research indicates that looking ahead to 2024, the HBM sufficiency ratio is expected to improve, shifting from -2.4% in 2023 to 0.6%. With the AI boom driving demand for AI chips in 2023 and 2024, companies are increasing HBM capacity, anticipating a significant improvement in the HBM supply in 2024.

In terms of specifications, as the performance needs of AI chips increase, it’s anticipated that HBM3 and HBM3e will become the dominant choices in 2024. In general, with a rise in demand and the higher average selling prices of HBM3 and HBM3e compared to older versions, the revenue from HBM is expected to experience significant growth in 2024.

(Image: Qualcomm)


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[Insights] Signals from the Latest Financial Reports of Top 5 Global Storage Giants

As the memory market faces oversupply and falling prices due to declining demand in 2023, there’s a glimmer of hope when looking into their Q4 guidance. Memory prices are gradually rising, indicating a potential escape from the market’s low point. The most recent financial reports from the world’s top five companies substantiate this positive outlook.

  1. Mixed Results in the Financial Reports of Top 5 Giants

From the recent financial reports of Samsung, SK Hynix, Micron, Kioxia, and Western Digital reveal a slowdown in the rate of revenue loss despite some reporting losses. Some companies express optimism, noting a gradual recovery in certain downstream demand.

Samsung: Anticipating Q4 Demand Recovery

Samsung Electronics’ Q3 financial report shows a revenue of 6.74 trillion Korean won, a YoY decrease, but with a net profit exceeding expectations at 5.5 trillion won.

During their earnings call on October 31, Samsung highlighted the uncertainty in the recovery of the storage chip market. However, they remain optimistic about increased demand in Q4, driven by year-end promotions, new product releases from major clients, and growing demand for generative AI.

SK Hynix: Positive Signs in Market Conditions

SK Hynix’s report for the Q3 2023 fiscal year indicates improving market conditions, particularly due to increased demand for high-performance memory, especially in AI-related products. DRAM and NAND flash memory sales have grown, with a significant 20%  QoQ increase in DRAM shipments. Rise of average prices also impacts the results. In the second half of the year, customers with reduced inventory are progressively increasing their procurement demands, leading to stable developments in product prices.

The company predicts continued improvement in the DRAM market and positive trends in NAND.

Micron: Storage Market Expected to Recover Next Year

Micron’s performance for the Q4 2023 fiscal year shows revenue of $4.01 billion, a 40% year-on-year decrease but better than market expectations. The DRAM business accounts for 69% of revenue, with $2.8 billion in revenue, an increase in bit shipments but a decrease in average selling price. NAND Flash revenue is $1.2 billion, with an increase in bit shipments but a decrease in ASP.

Micron expects Q1 revenue for the 2024 fiscal year to reach $4.2~4.6 billion, anticipating a recovery in the storage market in 2024 and further improvement in 2025.

Kioxia: Rebound in NAND Prices

Kioxia released its financial report for July to September 2023, with revenue of 241.4 billion yen, a 3.9% decrease QoQ and a 38.3% YoY decrease. Due to a decline in demand for smartphone and PC memory chips, the operating loss was 100.8 billion yen in the Q2. However, benefiting from the improvement in storage supply-demand balance, optimized storage portfolio, and the performance of the yen exchange rate, the operating loss has improved.

Although NAND shipments have decreased, the situation has improved due to the rebound in NAND prices. NAND bit shipments decreased by approximately 13%, and NAND ASP increased by about 8%. Looking ahead to 2024, Kioxia expects NAND prices to continue to rise with the original equipment company’s production reduction strategy and customer inventory normalization. Confidence in the NAND market’s recovery is expected, especially in data centers and enterprise SSD demand, after the first half of 2024.

Western Digital: Cloud Market Continues to Grow

Western Digital announced Q1 revenue for the 2024 fiscal year, totaling $2.75 billion, a 3% increase QoQ and a 26% YoY decrease. In the end market, the decline in flash memory prices was offset by the growth in flash memory shipments, driving some business growth on a QoQ basis.

CEO David Goeckeler stated that Q1 performance exceeded expectations, with profit margins for flash memory and HDD business continuously improving. He pointed out that the consumer and end-user markets performed well, and the cloud market is expected to continue growing. With market improvement, an improved cost structure enables the company to increase profitability.

  1. Changing Supply and Demand Dynamics: Some Applications Boosting

Storage companies are adapting to the market by reducing capital expenditures and adjusting inventory, leading to a more normalized market inventory. Simultaneously, increased demand in AI servers, high-performance computing, and automotive intelligence instills confidence in the market.

In the second half of the year, there are clear signs of improvement in the supply and demand dynamics of storage chips. Demand for smartphones, laptops, and new product releases is driving positive trends. Some companies are witnessing strengthened customer demand, even accepting price increases.

In the server sector, AI servers are boosting demand for high-bandwidth memory (HBM), and DDR5 adoption is accelerating. In the automotive storage sector, electric vehicles, intelligence, and networking are propelling in-car storage demand, indicating promising developments in the automotive storage market. Other applications such as big data, cloud computing, and wearable devices related to high-speed storage, reliability, and data security also present growth potential, benefiting storage companies.

  1. Comprehensive Rise in Storage Chips: Is a Turning Point Near?

According to TrendForce, the global NAND Flash market has experienced a comprehensive price increase in the Q4, driven by suppliers’ active production reduction strategies in 2023. Data from TrendForce indicates a general rise in Q4 NAND Flash contract prices, with an increase of about 8-13%.

TrendForce estimates a negative annual growth rate of -2.8% for supply in 2023, the first in several years. This has pushed the overall sufficiency ratio to -3.7%, forming the basis for stabilizing NAND Flash prices in the second half. However, the sustainability of the current upward trend remains unclear due to the lack of substantial terminal demand.

If demand recovers as expected in the second half of 2024, especially with the momentum of AI-related orders for server SSDs and a cautious approach by suppliers in resuming capacity utilization, the overall sufficiency ratio is expected to be controlled at -9.4%, accelerating the balance between supply and demand, and NAND Flash prices may show an upward trend throughout the year.

For DRAM, TrendForce predicts a seasonal increase of about 3-8% in DRAM contract prices in the Q4. The continuation of this upward trend depends on whether suppliers maintain their production reduction strategy and the actual recovery of demand, particularly in the general server.

During the MTS 2024 Storage Industry Trends Seminar, TrendForce highlighted three concerns for the memory market in 2024:

(1) Despite the reduction in inventory levels, it is essential to observe whether this reduction can be sustained and effectively transferred to buyers.

(2) Anticipating a rise in production capacity, an early recovery in operational rates due to market improvements may lead to another imbalance in supply and demand.

(3) Whether the demand from various end-users will align with the expected recovery or not, particularly the sustainability of orders related to AI.
(Image: Samsung)


[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)


[Insights] Weekly Price Update: DRAM Stalls, NAND Flash on the Rise

In the spot market, DRAM prices are showing a slight divergence from the contract market. Spot demand has decreased, preventing further price increases for DRAM chips. Meanwhile, NAND Flash prices have been rising due to ongoing wafer shortage. However, spot quotations for NAND Flash packaged dies remain stable due to uncertain demand visibility.

DRAM Spot Market

The price trend of the spot market diverges slightly from that of the contract market. Recently, demand has dropped in the spot market. Even though DRAM suppliers and module houses have been passive in offering price concessions, there also has been no noticeable increase in demand. Furthermore, there is growing sentiment in the spot market that waiting for further developments is the best option. Hence, spot prices of DRAM chips have not been able to rise further. As for modules, their spot prices have experienced limited fluctuations because Kingston, as the leading module house, is unwilling to raise quotes due to its high inventory level. The average spot price of the mainstream chips (i.e., DDR4 1Gx8 2666MT/s) rose by 1.69% from US$1.600 last week to US$1.627 this week.

NAND Flash Spot Market

The spot market, due to continuous shortages in recent wafer supply, has been experiencing rising prices under a shrinking volume, while spot quotations for NAND Flash packaged dies have been oscillating narrowly in quotations on account of the persistently constrained level of visibility in demand. Follow ups on market prices can still be seen among products involved in production cuts of suppliers, whereas other products are fluctuating according to market demand. 512Gb TLC wafer spots have risen by 6.94% this week, arriving at US$2.464.

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