The latest official data from South Korea, the world’s largest memory production country, indicates a turnaround in October’s memory exports, marking the first growth in nearly 16 months. Meanwhile, the latest report from the Taiwan Semiconductor Industry Association (TSIA) anticipates a quarter-on-quarter growth of 9.1% in Taiwan’s memory and other manufacturing output for this season, leading the semiconductor manufacturing industry.
These signals suggest a recovery in the memory market. Key players in Taiwan’s memory industry, such as Nanya Technology and Winbond, are expected to see significant operational momentum.
South Korea stands as the world’s largest memory manufacturing country, with Samsung and SK Hynix ranking as the top two global DRAM manufacturers, collectively holding a market share of approximately 70%. They also play a significant role in NAND Flash storage memory, with Samsung leading the global market and SK Hynix being among the top five manufacturers. The shift in South Korea’s memory export figures to growth signifies a stabilization in global memory demand, making it a crucial indicator for the industry’s recovery.
The South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy announced on November 14th that in October, South Korea’s memory exports increased by 1% compared to the same period last year, a significant improvement from the 18% YoY decline in September.
Notably, the export rebound was led by a 12.2% growth in semiconductor packaging, and the YoY decline rate in DRAM exports also narrowed to a single digit, marking the first time in over a year.
The TSIA also cited data from the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) International Division yesterday, estimating an 8% quarterly increase in Taiwan’s foundry production value in the fourth quarter. Additionally, the memory and other manufacturing sectors are expected to see a 9.1% quarterly increase, leading all semiconductor manufacturing industries. This underscores the ongoing recovery in the memory industry.
Taiwanese memory manufacturers are optimistic about the future market outlook. Nanya Technology’s General Manager, Pei-Ing Lee, analyzing the demand side, Lee notes that the server market displayed relative weakness in the first three quarters of the year. However, with the increasing demand in cloud services, a recovery is foreseen in the fourth quarter. In the mobile phone market, there are signs of a rebound in demand in the Chinese market after experiencing a period of weakness for at least a year. Additionally, the PC market is experiencing a positive impact from the rising demand for DDR5, leading to a comparatively healthy performance.
Winbond Electronics is also expressing positive sentiment towards the upcoming market developments. Since the fourth quarter of last year, Winbond Electronics has been adjusting production in response to market weakness, initially announcing a 40% production cut. As demand improves, the recent reduction in production has been reduced to 20%, and the shipment volume is expected to increase in the fourth quarter. Prices are anticipated to remain stable or experience a slight decline, with overall operations not expected to be worse than the third quarter, offering a hopeful outlook for slight improvement.
Winbond Electronics anticipates that if terminal demand remains similar to or consistent with this year in 2024, with manufacturers having depleted their inventories, purchasing power will rebound.
The company’s analysis suggests that this trend will be observed across various markets, including PCs, laptops, and smartphones. Additionally, the server domain is expected to return to growth as well.
TrendForce reports indicate a price increase for both DRAM and NAND Flash starting in the fourth quarter. DRAM prices, for instance, are projected to see a quarterly surge of about 3-8%.
On October 11, Nanya Technology held an investor conference where CEO Li Pei-Ying noted that DDR5 prices have risen. Nanya Technology’s primary products, DDR3 and DDR4, have halted their decline, with recent negotiations indicating potential price increases and an expected improvement in ASP (average selling prices) in the fourth quarter. The bit growth rate is also expected to show a slight improvement, leading to an overall amelioration in the loss situation.
Li Pei-Ying stated that in terms of overall market supply, various DRAM manufacturers are increasing their supply of DDR5 and HBM products. This is beneficial for depleting DDR4 inventories, and the DRAM industry’s conservative approach to capital expenditure and wafer production capacity is expected to help restore a healthy supply-demand balance by 2024.
On the demand side, in the server sector, enterprise cloud applications are driving demand for AI computing and DDR5. Nanya Technology anticipates that the server market may gradually improve from the fourth quarter onwards. In the mobile sector, the continued development of AI applications in smartphones globally is expected to boost upgrade intentions, and there is an opportunity for a rebound in smartphone sales in the Chinese market from the fourth quarter.
In the PC sector, the launch of new products is expected to drive demand for DDR5 and LPDDR5, gradually replacing DDR4 and LPDDR4 as the mainstream options. In the consumer electronics sector, including televisions, IP cameras, networking, industrial control, and automotive applications, demand is maintaining steady growth.