A freshly minted report from TrendForce predicts another quarter of double-digit price prices across the DRAM markets so that the best RAM will get more expensive. The contract price predictions for PC DRAM, which TrendForce says will rise by 10-15% in Q1 2024, are probably the most important to our readers. Server DRAM and Graphics DRAM prices will see a similar scale of increase, according to the source. However, the worst hit will be the mobile market, with DRAM prices rising by 18-23% over the same short period.
In its preamble, TrendForce broadly indicates that DRAM contract prices are rising due to uncertainty. Reading further, the uncertainty concerns the mix of demand between various types of DRAM, such as DDR4 and DDR5. We are still in a transition period for the industry, making manufacturer planning more complicated than it could be.
Focusing first on PC DRAM, TrendForce observes that “the market is buzzing with unfilled DDR5 orders.” As we just mentioned, the uncertain balance between DDR4 and DDR5 demand and production is helping push prices up here. Server DRAM will see similar price hikes in Q1 2024, it is claimed, as will Graphics DRAM like GDDR6.
According to the market research source, mobile DRAM will go up by 18-23% during this first quarter. It is thought that historically, low prices have caused a lot of inventory building, and this is continuing, pushing prices upward without deterring buying – yet.
It is thought that a similar increase will be seen in the Consumer DDR4 DRAM market – memory chips for consumer devices like smart TVs, consoles, and set-top boxes. These chips are set to rise 10-15% in Q1, but price rises for DDR3 used for Consumer DRAM will increase less, estimated to be 8-13%.
In November, we noted that DRAMeXchange had published figures showing the gradual rebound in DDR4 DRAM spot pricing since the summer. At the time of writing, we still have 2x8GB DDR4-3200 prices, which are about 17% below January 2023. So, we could soon return to DRAM pricing levels last seen at the start of 2023.
DRAM makers have been cutting output through 2023, or possibly longer, to push prices higher. This is a dangerous game as DRAM-making rivals can introduce new technology to make bit production cheaper to boost demand. Also, emerging competitors like those based in China can see established producers holding back as a great opportunity.
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Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.