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Compuforum 2019: The Big Future of Data Economics—TrendForce Takeaways

The iconic, annual conference hosted by global market research institute  TrendForce  is held today (31) in the VIP Room on the 4th floor of the Taipei International Convention Center: Compuforum 2019: The Big Future of Data Economics. Western Digital, Intel, Bigtera (subsidiary of Silicon Motion), DELL and other giants have been invited to the conference to focus on the development of storage solutions and emerging business opportunities in an era dominated by data economics and transformed by cloud. Senior Research Director Avril Wu and Senior Analyst Mark Liu at DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce, also provide developmental insights into the DRAM industry of today, and dive deep into the upgrade trends characteristic of next-generation memories, servers and datacenters. And needless to say, seats were full and responses enthusiastic.

Eyal Bek, Vice President of Marketing in Datacenter and Client Computing at Western Digital kicks off the conference by sharing how Western Digital innovatively uses 3D NAND technology and vertical integration to satisfy the various adaptation needs of cloud-to-edge-server storage. Intel PRC /APJ Sales Manager James Lin then introduces Intel Optane DC persistent memory and explains how it has redefined traditional memory and storage architecture, granting increased flexibility to data management in both mainstream and emerging applications alike.

Bigtera Vice President Leander Yu keeps the ball rolling with a discussion on the development of software-defined storage solutions from hybrid to all-flash, and the revolutions and underlying opportunities of memory technologies under trending AI and machine learning. Franky Ho, Enterprise Technologist at Dell Technologies, has the development of global digital cities as his point of departure and studies how businesses can catch up with this digital tide.

Last to make an appearance are Senior Research Director Avril Wu and Senior Analyst Mark Liu at TrendForce, who give an in-depth analysis of storage and HPC upgrade trends initiated by cloud transformation and edge computing, and provide the latest developments in the memory market.

Next-generation Memories Have a Chance to Receive Wider Usage in 2020, Thanks to Increased Customizability of Datacenters

Whether DRAM or NAND Flash, current memory solutions are straining the physical limits of production processes, meaning it is becoming more and more difficult to keep on raising performance and lowering costs. Therefore, there has been much discussion revolving around Intel Optane and other next- generation memories in recent years, in hopes of discovering new solutions while keeping modifications to the current platform to a minimum or even leaving it completely untouched.

However, next-generation memory costs remain high due to the lack of up-scaling and normalization, leading vendors to target datacenters and other special applications, especially hyperscale datacenters with rather highly customized designs, by which new configurations may be planned to meet the needs of different memories.

Due to the pervasiveness of intelligent end devices and AI reaching maturity, many application services have been integrated through the use of servers, especially those application services which require a huge amount of data for computation and training. Furthermore, server demand has been on the rise as virtual platform and cloud storage technologies gradually develop, bringing about the growth of hyperscale datacenters in the process. According to TrendForce's investigations, the number of hyperscale datacenters constructed globally will continue to rise up to a projected 1070 in 2025, registering a CAGR growth of 13.7% over the 2016-2025 period.

Memory Prices to Bounce in 2020, Becoming Key to Increasing Adoption of Next-generation Memories

If we look at various aspects such as cost, speed and areas of application, next-generation memories and current solutions all have their respective pros and cons, with the key to increasing adoption lying in price considerations. DRAM and NAND are all facing oversupply, and current memory solution prices continue to fall. The continual descent in DRAM prices is basically due to the sudden drop in server and smartphone demand and the consequent quick-freeze in consumption and accumulating inventories. On the other hand, not only is there increased supply and weakening demand in the NAND market, but market shares are hotly contested since there just isn't enough to go around. In summary of the above, DRAM and NAND prices slid simultaneously and speedily in 2019, and NAND prices are nearing cash costs for suppliers.

Due to the existing memory solution prices falling off the cliff in 2019, circumstances may not be ideal for next-generation memory to increase market presence. Yet restocking momentum built through the gradual recovery in demand and price flexibility may bring about a rebound in memory prices in 2020, giving next-generation solutions a better chance to penetrate into the market. In addition, as production costs for next-generation memories drop in the future, TrendForce posits that there will be more adoption of next-generation memories in the market, allowing them to become alternative solutions.

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