As PS4 and Xbox One approach the end of their lifecycles, Sony and Microsoft recently revealed more details about the release schedules of PS5 and Xbox Series X, which will hit the market during the 2020 holiday season. According to the DRAMeXchange research division of TrendForce, the competition between next-gen video game consoles in 2H20 will incite a demand surge for Graphics DRAM and SSDs.
The two consoles will be equipped with AMD GPUs. While minor differences between the two consoles exist with respect to hardware customizations, both consoles are expected to support high resolutions and ray tracing. Also, PS5 and Xbox Series X are architecturally similar to a PC, lowering the barrier to the development of cross-platform games. To address the need for better graphics and smoother frame rates, both consoles will be equipped with the most advanced GDDR6 memory technology. PS5 will be equipped with as much as 16GB of GDDR memory, while Xbox Series X may come in 12GB and 16GB variants. In comparison to the GDDR5 memory used in PS4 (8GB) and Xbox One X (8/12GB), GDDR6 represents a significant upgrade in terms of performance and density. Sony and Microsoft will enter their peak procurement period for components after mid-2020. As well, NVIDIA will start offering its new lineup of GPUs based on a new microarchitecture codenamed Ampere in 2H20. These factors are projected to trigger a massive rush to stock up on GDDR6 memory later this year.
Continuous improvements in graphics have led to increased storage spaces taken up by video games and longer load times. Therefore, SSDs have replaced HDDs as the storage device of choice in PS5 and Xbox Series X because of faster load times. In their new consoles, Sony and Microsoft are adopting AMD architecture, which supports PCIe Gen 4 interface. This interface can reduce SSD load times down to 3-5 seconds and in turn provide a superior game experience compared to what is offered by current-gen consoles. In addition, current titles can take up more than 50 GB of storage space, so Sony and Microsoft will offer at least 512GB to 1TB of SSD options to satisfy the storage demand of future games.
TrendForce expects game consoles to be a new source of SSD demand in the future, taking up as much as 3-5% of total SSD shipment in 2020. This share figure will grow significantly in 2021, with NAND Flash bit consumption from game console SSDs projected to reach 5% of the global total in 2H20.
However, the demand for NAND Flash by game console SSDs will not materialize until after mid-2020. Game console SSDs are therefore not what primarily causes the current rise in NAND Flash contract prices. The contract prices of various NAND Flash products have been on the rise lately mainly because the inventory pressure on the supply side is much lower than before, and the overall SSD demand from PC OEMs and clients in the data center market is gaining momentum.