DRAM has been the poster child of rapidly fluctuating market prices for decades. DRAM vendors could get insanely rich one month and fall near bankruptcy the next. Not so right now.
According to IHS, spot market prices for 2 Gb DDR3 DRAM fluctuated by 17 percent in the two weeks before the bankruptcy was announced. 12 weeks later, prices changed by only 0.7 percent. Also, prices are substantially higher. On IHS’ pricing index scale, DDR3 is currently listed at 243, a number that relates to the 1000 score when the index was launched in 2002.
“With things still very much up in the air on how events will unfold, industry participants seem to be waiting for some indication of what the resulting industry structure will be like after an Elpida takeover is finalized,” said Dee Nguyen, memory analyst at IHS. “As a result, the current pricing environment appears to reflect this mood with the DRAM market eerily quiet, accompanied by visibly less pricing volatility atypical of the industry. Clearly then, a direct correlation exists between decreased DRAM pricing volatility and Elpida’s announcement given that the current period of flat DRAM pricing occurred right after the bankruptcy notice. The big question also remains whether normal volatility will return once some clarity emerges on the future of Elpida.”
Neither bulk buyers nor the end-user is likely to get a particularly good deal on DRAM these days. If there is no urgent need to buy memory at this time, it may be a good idea to wait just like the rest of the industry. While there is a reasonable chance that the DRAM industry will learn from its weakness in the past and remain on a road of stable pricing, there is also a good chance that more volatility and, as a result, favorable buying opportunities, will return.