Computer DRAM, NAND prices continue to rise

From : chipmakers

February 28, 2017 4:35 am JST
Prolonged uptrend caused by chipmakers' focus on smartphones

Solid-state drives are now a more common feature among the latest upmarket notebook PCs than old-fashioned hard drives.
TOKYO -- Personal computer memory prices have climbed to multiyear highs as chipmakers give priority to meeting demand from smartphone manufacturers, restricting the supply of memory chips for PCs.

The February price of 4-gigabit DDR4 DRAM, installed in many of this winter's new models, rose 3% from the prior month to around $3.30 apiece. The price of benchmark 4-gigabit DDR3 DRAM is around $3, remaining high after rising for eight straight months through January.

Similarly, the price PC manufacturers paid in February for 64-gigabit MLC-type NAND flash memory rose 1% to around $3.60, while 128-gigabit chips climbed 4%. DRAM prices are now at a 19-month high while NAND prices have hit the highest in three years.

In response to soaring demand for memory used in smartphones, chipmakers have ramped up production of those products at the expense of chips for PCs. Many point out that Chinese smartphone manufacturers have increased procurement for new models due out in the spring or later.

Given the higher DRAM and NAND prices, prices of solid-state drives, or SSDs, are rising as well. The February price of 128-gigabyte MLC SSDs was around $54, up 3% from the prior month. Officials at NEC Personal Computers indicate that these drives are starting to be installed in high-end laptops in particular, but are in short supply.

Domestic laptop shipments dipped 3% last year, according to the Japan Electronics and Information Technologies Industries Association. On a value basis, the decline was just 1%. JEITA believes the domestic market has bottomed out.

Most electronic components fall in price after being introduced to the market. Many in the industry say that past memory price uptrends lasted roughly three months at most and that they have never seen prices climb over such an extended period.

Higher chip prices are starting to ripple to PC prices. At electronics mass merchandisers here, spring laptop models loaded with SSDs are selling for 10-20% more than older-generation products with the same memory capacity. For that reason, retailers are reportedly recommending the older products if customers don't insist on the latest model.