© nomadsoul1 dreamstime.com Electronics Production | November 15, 2012
1HNov. DRAM Contract Price Decline Eases
According to DRAMeXchange, a research division of global market research firm TrendForce, as PC OEMs’ inventory adjustments are finished for the time being, even with the lack of noticeable improvement for DRAM demand, buyers are still more open to slightly higher prices than they have been in the past, which is in turn contributing to stable DRAM prices.
According to TrendForce data, the contract price trend stayed flat in 1HNov., while lowest 4GB price was US$15.5. Average 2GB price fell around the US$9 mark, which equates to US$0.83 for 2Gb, not much of a difference from spot price. In the past six months, oversupply on the DRAM market has resulted in a 25% price decline from this year’s high to the current price, a figure that has already fallen below cash cost for some manufacturers. As some DRAM suppliers have cut capacity in the second half of the year, the downtrend has seen a little relief; prices are very likely to stay above US$15 for the month of November, putting an end to the monthly US$1 decrease for the time being. The PC industry has entered the traditional peak season for shipments, but macroeconomic factors have resulted in weaker PC shipments than usual this year. However, despite the fact that the DRAM market remains in oversupply, previous capacity cuts are already taking effect and the DRAM price decline has eased. The same goes for mobile DRAM price; with strong smartphone and tablet shipments in the fourth quarter, average price decline for mainstream density mobile DRAM is in the 5-10% range, down from over 10% in the past few quarters. However, PC shipments have suffered the hardest blow from global economic sluggishness. As consumers are putting off upgrades, the release of Windows 8 did not provide any significant benefit to PC shipments. While buyers are willing to purchase inventory, their offers are far lower than DRAM suppliers’ desired prices, which has extended many negotiations into 2HNov. Aside from waiting for the global economy to improve, DRAM suppliers can only reduce losses by improving prices, which requires continual capacity cuts to bring supply and demand levels back into balance. Windows8 Limited in terms of Stimulating Demand, 4Q12 NB Shipments Continue to Dip DRAM prices are easily affected by the economy and can be subject to major fluctuations. With the second half of the year generally serving as the peak PC shipment period, DRAM makers are hoping that the prices will either stabilize or climb, and that capacity utilization rates can be increased so as to bring about increased revenue growth. While DRAM prices, for the most part, have been stable in 1H12 (increasing steadily from the beginning of the year to July), factors such as the weaker-than-expected peak season, delays to Micron’s merging process with Elpida, and the unpromising NB shipment numbers have all contributed to DRAM’s pricing downtrend during the third quarter. The declining prices have begun to reach close to each manufacturer’s 30nm cash costs, in turn forcing them to lower production. For 4Q12, capacity utilization rates will be experiencing more noticeable downward adjustments. While Windows 8 was initially anticipated to spark momentum for new NB models, the recent NB shipment numbers have indicated otherwise; For November, PC OEM shipment turned out to be 7% lower than the figures in the previous month, and is projected to dip even further during December. Compared to the previous Windows system, TrendForce believes one of Windows 8’s most important changes to be the Metro UI touch interface, which further blurs the boundaries between a traditional NB and a tablet PC. Among the reasons touch-NB shipments are unable to account for even 10% of the total production volumes is that the Windows 8 hardware ecosystem has yet to fully develop, and that consumers are still not completely used to the idea of a touch interface notebook. At the moment, many businesses within the industry are keeping an eye on Intel’s next quad core chip set, known as Haswell. The hope is that among the major OS and central processing system updates, the chip will help to revitalize shipment demand within the NB market. According to TrendForce, even if the focus on technological products shifts from hardware specs to software innovation, the type of upgrades that can be applied to DRAM densities remains limited. The fact that expectation towards DRAM’s ability to conserve power is increasing, though, gives manufacturers new opportunities to instill value within PC DRAM products.
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