The tech market has been in the midst of a brutal memory shortage that has seen prices skyrocket to incredible levels, but your next kit of RAM, or graphics card, may be much cheaper – to the tune of 25%.
Market analysis firm DRAMeXchange says memory prices could drop 15-25% in 2019. Contract negotiations with DRAM suppliers have begun for the fourth quarter, and while prices of PC RAM have remained steady, pricing for graphics memory has begun to recede amidst signs of softening DRAM demand across the board.
The industry is quickly transitioning to new, smaller 1X/1Y RAM nodes that have higher density, but demand is simultaneously flattening. Additional fab capacity has also come online, and SK Hynix's new Wuxi fab will begin pumping out bits in 2019. That sets the stage for a pricing slump. Chinese regulators have also recently met with memory vendors, like Micron and Samsung, to express concerns about the continuing shortage among fears of price fixing, but the impact of those talks on the supply situation remains unclear.
Graphics DRAM pricing has been one of the prime contributors to the recent graphics card shortage, though cryptominers also played a key role in boosting demand beyond supply. The crypto craze has finally petered out as the price of cryptocurrencies plunge at coin exchanges, and the sudden drop in demand has surely had a role in reduced graphics memory pricing.
Bean-counting outfit IC Insights reminds us that DRAM vendors have gotten fat off the land during the shortage. For the first time in history, DRAM could be the first individual IC category to break $100 billion in yearly revenue. The NAND flash segment is also booming as it exits the worst shortage in history, but industry soothsayers also predict a tremendous drop in SSD pricing as we enter next year. That means that 2019 may find us with a spate of new CPUs and GPUs to pair with cheap and plentiful memory and SSDs.
And a flood of cheap, used video cards on the second-hand market. Got a perfectly functional GTX 1070 TI for $350.
What we have witnessed is a perfect storm of demand and lack of supply. There is zero evidence of the Big Three memory makers (Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron respectively) have worked in collusion to market price fix. The EU would have been all over it if true since those busybody bureaucrats are so lawsuit-happy in private sector business. The growth of smart phone demand, crypto-currency mining, and a host of other devices including smart appliances that require memory chips have put a strain on the video card and PC memory markets.
I saw this coming last year and dumped one of my two GTX 970s running in SLI and bought a 1080 Ti before prices got out of hand. Video cards, at least from Nvidia, are now returning to sane prices. Unfortunately PC/laptop DDR4 memory has not come down in price, and that is one reason I have held out on replacing my aging Haswell chipset (it will be 4 years old this fall) for a new build. I have never gone more than two or three years before upgrading to a new chipset. And yes, the lack of Intel's tick/tock progress between each new generation means that we can get by longer without needing to upgrade.
You didn't save much... I've seen new ones going for around $380.
Yep well if you need it now, you need it now. That's like right now while we are waiting for the upcoming GTX 2080 GPUs. If I had a GPU that died, I'd need one right now and be forced to buy a two year old Pascal GTX 10xx whatever.