Perhaps the DRAM market is on the road to recovery after all. Business has picked up as of late, and according to Pai Pei-Lin, VP and spokesperson of Nanya Technology, contract prices for DRAM chips will continue to climb next month.
In a sort of domino effect, Pai said he expects Windows 7 to set in motion a long overdue upgrade cycle that has been stalled the past three years because of disinterest in Vista. This will mean even higher demand for DRAM chips, potentially reaching the DRAM market's peak it in 1995, and ultimately a shortage of chips in 2010 as memory makers reach their limits in capacity output.
According to Pai, DDR2 and DDR3 will likely split the market evenly in the first quarter of 2010, but their could be a pricing disparity. Contract prices for DDR2 chips have been rising since August and finally surpassed DDR3 this month, and that trend looks to continue for at least the next couple of months, Pai noted.
For probably the first time in a very long time, the future appears bright for the memory market. Either that, or A-Data chairman Simon Chen is sporting an awfully bright pair of rose-colored glasses.
According to Chen, both the NAND flash and DRAM sectors have recovered in the second half of 2009, following the easing of an oversupply of chips that previously kept prices uncomfortably low. Chen views this as a positive sign moving forward, saying the overall memory sector is expected to return to its 2006 or 2007 form in 2010.
If true, this bodes particularly well for A-Data, who has aspirations of once again reigning as the most profitable among Taiwan-based memory module companies in 2010. A-Data is planning on expanding in India, Russia, Brazil, and Mexico, and according to Chen, sales generated from the emerging markets should grow significantly in 2010.
We've been saying for months now that it's only a matter time before DRAM prices go back up and it will no longer be possible to pick up a high capacity kit with just the loose change in your pants pocket. That time hasn't quite come yet, but according to data by DRAMeXchange, prices for 1Gb DDR2 and 1Gb DDR3 are steadily increasing.
As it currently stands, 1Gb of DDR2 runs $1.53 while a Gb of DDR3 costs $1.66. That doesn't sound like much (and it isn't), but those prices represent increases of 8.5 percent for DDR2 and 5.1 percent for DDR3.
Meanwhile, contract prices for 2GB DDR2 and 2GB DDR3 sticks have shot up $27.50 and $29.50, respectively, in just the first half of September, and we still have the rest of the month to go.
Once again, if you've been eying a memory upgrade, you may want to bite the bullet rather than continue to play Russian Roulette with market prices.
It's hard to imagine anyone being stoked about losing $611 million in a quarter, unless you're part of a group of DRAM makers who were expecting to lose much more.
According to news and rumor site DigiTimes, Taiwan's major DRAM chip makers -- Inotera Memories, Nanya Technology, Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation (PSC), and ProMOS Technologies -- will post combined losses of more than NT$20 billion, or roughly $611 million USD, for the second quarter of 2009. As bad as that sounds, market watchers were anticipating losses adding up to NT$30.7 billion, or about $938 million USD.
And it hasn't been all losses for memory chip makers. Both A-Data Technology and Transcend Information continue to see profits for the second quarter, perhaps indicating that the worst might finally be over.
The schism between DDR3 and DDR2 spot prices is widening. According to market research firm inSpectrum, although memory module and graphics card vendors made a lot of inquiries for DDR3 during the last week (July 13-17), transaction volumes remained low due to limited stocks. The market’s bullishness helped the price of DDR3 to continue its upward trends while price of DDR2 continued to fall with cussed consistency, with the price of 1GB effectively tested (eTT) chips even dropping below $1.
Another DRAM patent lawsuit has been filed, and not by Rambus. Instead, a Canadian company alleges IBM has breached a number of DRAM-related patents, which include 6,608,703, 7,038,937, 6,680,654, 6,69,448, and 7,486,580.
Each patent relates to elements of DRAM technology, and according to Mosaid, the company which filed the lawsuit, IBM breached every single one by making and selling DRAM mircroprocessor and ASIC products which allegedly use the inventions.
To date, Mosaid's portfolio contains more than 850 patents and a long list of licensees for its DRAM and embedded memory patents. Some of these licensees include Fujitsu, NEC, Toshiba, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Oki, Panasonic, Winbond, Sony, Samsung, Hynix, TSMC, Infineon, ProMOS, Powerchip, and Micron.
Mosaid said it filed the lawsuit when talks with IBM broke down.
Much to the chagrin of memory makers (and delight of consumers), DRAM contract prices have remained static in the second half of June, but that's getting ready to change. Memory makers expect supply to tighten up in July as more orders continue to come in following stronger demand from PC makers.
Looking longer term, industry sources indicate contract prices for DRAM chips have started showing signs of a rebound and should continue to improve for the rest of the year. Furthermore, the price gap between branded finished memory chips and eTT (effective tested) chips is expected to widen significantly in the second half of 2009, DigiTimes reports.
If you've been putting off that memory upgrade, now might be a good time to pull the trigger.
DRAM contract prices have refused to budge during the second half of June, according to DRAMeXchange. The first half had witnessed an increase in contract prices and chip suppliers, encouraged by the token recovery, were planning to increase prices.
Although analysts expected DDR3 contract prices to rise on the back of increased demand resulting from the launch of ultra-thin notebooks, DDR3 prices have remained stagnant. DDR2 contract prices have remained static just as anticipated.
The contact prices for 2GB DDR3 and 2GB DDR2 chips have averaged $23 and $21.50, respectively, in the second half of June. On the other hand, the contract prices for 1GB DDR3 and 1GB DDR2 chips are $1.25 and $1.16, respectively.
Tough times for memory chip makers continue, but relief may soon be coming, if not for just a short period of time. According to Simon Chen, chairmen of A-Data Technology, DRAM prices have a very good chance of returning to cost levels in the third quarter of 2009, DigiTimes reports.
The comments came during the Computex Taipei trade show, in which A-Data has been showing off new memory products, including overclocked DDR3 memory kits and SSDs. However, Chen did caution that while pricing may soon go up, a full recovery isn't likely to take place until 2010. Contract pricing for June will be a telltale sign of things to come, Chen said, and DRAM chip makers would be wise to closely monitor and control their inventory.