[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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