DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce, reports that DRAM suppliers are now negotiating with their clients over the third-quarter contracts during this latter half of June. As there is no easing of undersupply in the DRAM market, prices continue to climb. DRAMeXchange estimates that the overall ASP of DRAM products will rise by about 5% this third quarter compared with the second quarter. Suppliers can therefore expect further increases in their profits.
“Although the end demand, particularly from the smartphone market, has not been strong this year, the general pace of manufacturing technology migration has been slow and is contributing to the tightening of supply,” said Avril Wu, research director of DRAMeXchange. “This situation is anticipated to last to 2018 since suppliers will not take on significant additional production capacity in the short term. Meanwhile, ASPs of various DRAM products will remain high.”
Diversification of end products adds complexity to DRAM production
Compared with previous cycles, the major difference for this cycle is the impact of new types of application demand has on the DRAM production. In the past, DRAM products were fewer in types and had similar specifications because they were mainly for PCs and smartphones, which were the two dominant applications. This also meant that fluctuations in end market demand and changes in the macroeconomic environment could cause large swings in DRAM prices. Now, other applications for DRAM have emerged, such as graphic processing, cloud computing, automotive electronics and hardware acceleration for machine learning. Product solutions in these markets are generally at the early stages of their lifecycles, so there is a high level of customization for related components, including memory. For DRAM suppliers, offering customized products introduces complexity to the allocation of their existing production capacity. Furthermore, DRAM products for the emerging applications do not experience large price swings because of their lifecycles and smaller supply volumes. On the whole, application-specific DRAM products have helped stabilize the general price trend.
In the third quarter, shipments of smartphones and PCs are not expected to be especially robust. However, demand related to the building of data centers and the year-end busy season for consumer electronic vendors will propel the DRAM market and drive up prices. The spot market, which is the usual leading market indicator, has shown price rally since last week. In the contract market, prices of server DRAM modules have spiked up. DRAMeXchange expects server DRAM modules to experience the most noticeable sequential price increase in the third quarter by around 3% to 5% on average. On account of these trends, the overall ASP of DRAM products are projected to go up by at least 5% in the third quarter compared with the second quarter.