According to DRAMeXchange, a division of global research firm TrendForce, mobile DRAM prices have stabilized in the third quarter. All mobile memory product categories are showing a price decline of only less than 5%, with the majority of smartphone manufacturers purchasing mobile memory at the same price as in the previous quarter. As mobile DRAM prices have been continuously falling for over two years, the stabilization caused by peak season demand brings a sigh of relief for DRAM makers.
In review of the second quarter, smartphone market is still provided as the greatest contributor in terms of mobile memory demand, according to DRAMeXchange Research Assistant Vice President Avril Wu. China’s demand transition from 3G to 4G TD-LTE as well as Qualcomm’s release of newest mainstream 4G chip MSM8916 (Snapdragon 410) provided a huge demand boost for mobile DRAM. With regard to the following third quarter, Apple’s upcoming unveiling of the latest iPhone has kept raising consumer’s notice due to a comparably larger display to iPhone 5S. Although 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch devices are remaining to go with 1GB of LPDDR3, the anticipation is enough to consume a fair amount of mobile DRAM capacity, resulting a slightly tight supply.
Contract prices for discrete/PoP products showed a more obvious decline in the high-density LPDDR3 (16 GB) category, while other products exhibited relatively flat trends. LPDDR3 has already become the mainstream based on output quantity, with LPDDR2 demand dropping rapidly. Thus, market prices are somewhat unstable, but LPDDR2 has achieved price parity with LPDDR3, added Wu.
MCP and eMCP contract prices also showed slight decline, which is a result of cost reductions due to technology migration. Benefitting from increased adoption of Qualcomm’s MSM8916 platform and MediaTek’s upcoming 6732/6752 LTE chipset, eMCP shipments are expected to see a significant increase.
Looking towards the fourth quarter, as manufacturers are still unable to uplift global DRAM capacity and the peak shipment season on demand side retains due to products application, TrendForce expects the market will remain in slight undersupply. Discrete/PoP mobile DRAM prices are projected to show slight decline, but eMCP products should see flat or slightly increasing trends. With momentum from Samsung, higher density, LPDDR3 based eMCP solutions will pick up, consuming mobile DRAM supply while also stimulating demand for NAND eMMC.
Note: As most major smartphone manufacturers negotiate prices on a quarterly basis, TrendForce will now publish mobile memory prices once a quarter; prices for discrete memory used in tablets, high-end smartphones, and ultra-like notebooks will be updated monthly.