Global demand of servers has been weaker than expected since the middle of the second quarter. Sales of PCs were also sluggish during the traditional peak season of the third quarter. Consequently, the server DRAM market saw a noticeable price decline in the third quarter. Server DRAM prices, however, have started to stabilize going into the final quarter of this year because of the growing demand from large-sized data centers.
The latest report from DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce, finds that the average contract price of DDR3 R-DIMM has fallen more steeply in November compared with October because the market demand has significantly shifted to DDR4 R-DIMM. Contract prices of 16GB DDR3 R-DIMM have suffered as much as 6% monthly drop on average in November, down to US$95. By comparison, contract prices of 16GB DDR4 R-DIMM have seen a moderate 4~5% decline to US$99 on average because DDR4 benefitted from increased demand and rapid penetration in the large-sized data center market. However, the downtrend in the 32GB DDR4 R-DIMM contract prices continue to accelerate in the same month, with decline being almost 9% on average.
“The market is expected to remain weak in 2016, so server DRAM prices will keep sliding,” said DRAMeXchange analyst Angel Liou. “The general prices of DDR4 and DDR3, however, are not expected to fall as quickly as they have in the past quarters, as their prices are gradually starting to approach parity in the fourth quarter. This is expected to bring an end to the price comparison effect that had been typical of the previous few quarters."
The upgrade of Intel server processor to become server DRAM’s major demand driver in 2016
Intel’s next-generation server CPU platform, Purley, is scheduled for market release in 2017. Until then, there is unlikely to be any massive replacement/upgrade demand for server machines. For next year, upgrade demand will originate mainly from the release of Intel’s Xeon E5 v4 Broadwell-EP server processor. Featuring up to 22 cores, this CPU is able to push DDR4’s overall clock speed 2,133MHz to 2,400MHz. Also, the density of mainstream server DRAM modules will also advance to 16/32GB. In sum, DRAMeXchange expects that next year’s server DRAM demand will mainly come from upgrade in server units’ memory density, and server DRAM’s bit demand growth will remain steady around 35%.