Taipei, November 12, 2008 --- DRAMeXchange believes that the DRAM industry has entered the key adjusting stage of “reduce or retire”. The big scale reduction is now in progress and even some DRAM vendors will be out of the DRAM market in 2009. This adjusting wave will continue until the demand and supply come to balance.
According to DRAMeXchange, the DRAM vendors’ cash cost of the current main stream 70 nm technology is USD1.3 to 1.5 , and lower to USD1.0 to 1.2 with the migration to the 6xnm process, which vendors mostly started in 1H08. In September and October, the DRAM DDR2 price plunged 20% and both October contract and spot price reached new low of USD 1.3 and 1.0. Under the global economic recession, demand is hard to recover in the short term and the DRAM price is difficult to have quick rebound. With the continuous loss, the DRAM vendors are tight on cash. Under the financial crisis and global economic recession, banks have tightened loans and liquidity risk has risen. The difficulty of fund raising from capital market is much higher. Therefore, DRAMeXchange believes that the DRAM industry has entered the key adjusting stage of “reduce or retire”. The big scale reduction is now in progress and even some DRAM vendors will be out of the DRAM market in 2009. This adjusting wave will continue until the demand and supply come to balance.
Total 12" Wafers Down by 6% by First Wave Cutback
In early September, Powerchip’s decided to cut DRAM production by 10%~15% (13k~19k wafers) and request that other DRAM manufacturers to tackle the severe oversupply problem in DRAM market. Elpida followed several days later by announcing production reduction of 10% (10k wafers) at its Hiroshima facility. By 22nd of September, the world's second largest DRAM manufacturer – Hynix also announced in cutting back production, halting nearly all of its 8” facilities, including its facility at Oregon in USA, Wuxi Suzhou in China and its largest 8” facility in Korea, leaving only a single 8” facility with 100k wafer/month capacity.
Total 12" Wafers Down further 10% by 2nd Wave Cutback
Inotera, after Micron has confirmed its acquisition of Inotera’s shares from Qimonda, announced it will reduce production by 20% starting November in order to prepare for the technology migration. Next year January, Nanya will shut down Fab3 Phase1 completely and begin migration to Micron process in February. ProMOS has announced it will stop its 8” production facility. Powerchip may reduce another 20K production in November down to 90K. DRAMeXchange estimates total reduction for November, based on announcements in October, to be roughly 125K, or 10% of total 12” wafers.
Third Wave in January’09 to cut 6% more
Although not yet announced in public but resources say that ProMOS confirmed that it will have a one month shutdown next January for annual maintenance. Nanya also expects to stop production at its 12” facility in January in order to prepare migrating to Micron process. Powerchip also may have 2-week annual maintenance in January’09. Thus, compared to November, we expect capacity to reduce by 70K 12” wafers in December, another 6% down on 12” wafer starts.
The output reductions mentioned above all are just some short term reactions of the DRAM vendors while facing the situation of prices falling below the cash cost this time. The ramp up volume of DRAM will hit the bottom in Q109. According to DRAMeXchange, while taking the Q208 average monthly ramp up volume as the comparing basis, the Q308 average ramp up volume (in 12" equivalent) only slightly decreased 1.8%. Comparing Q408 number to the peak of Q208, the average ramp up volume decreased about 17%, and Q109 will decrease about 20%.
DRAM Supply-Demand and price trend analysis in Q408 and 2009
In Q408, the PC OEMs and channel players are all urged to digest their inventory in hand. With the sharp shrinking of market demand, the DRAM vendors are facing incredibly increasing sales pressure and rising inventory. Hence, before January 2009, we can barely see DRAM price rebound strongly while vendors are under great inventory pressure. With the continuous output reduction started in September, the amount of reduction will reach the peak in January 2009. We expect the over supply situation will be eased starting from the end of Q109. Therefore, the DRAM price may have a chance to rebound at the end of Q209 or in Q309 with the rising demand of PC OEMs.
Due to the 20% price drop in September and October, the DRAM prices are mostly now under the cash cost of vendors. Plus DRAM vendors have been suffering from loss for one and a half year, the operation of DRAM vendors is now in difficulty. While the average price may fall 20 to 30% in Q408, if the low price lasts to Q109, at least two DRAM vendors are very possible to be driven out of the market. No matter reduction or getting out of the market, DRAM industry has entered the final death match. The capacity of DRAM must adjust until the equilibrium of supply and demand has been reached. DRAMeXchange expects that the DRAM average price will go back to 1.5 to 2.0 USD/ 1 Gb early as 2Q09 or late as 2H09.However, if the governments of Germany, Korea, Japan and Taiwan offer relief funds to DRAM companies to survive through the downturn, the downturn could be extended to 2010.