The DRAM market is continuing to correct itself. According to DRAMeXchange, manufacturers paid between 1.6 and 3.2% less for 4GB or 8GB PC DRAM modules in November than they did in October, and the research group predicts even sharper declines in the first quarter of 2019.
DRAM prices soared to new heights in early 2018 as demand far outpaced supply. This immediately resulted in high prices, and when the memory companies failed to increase their production adequately, regulators started to investigate potential price-fixing. Once companies started to increase their production, the prices immediately started to fall. (Which is one reason why Samsung reportedly limited production in response.)
DRAMeXchange said in September that prices could drop by as much as 5% in 2018. Now the research group has said that prices could fall by as much as 10% in the first quarter of 2019 for PC DRAM, server DRAM, and specialty DRAM. Mobile DRAM isn't expected to be as drastically impacted because prices didn't rise as much the others. For everyone who doesn't make a phone, though, that's welcome.
Here's the research group's breakdown:
|PC DRAM||Around -10%||> - 10%|
|Server DRAM||Around -10%||> -10%|
|Mobile DRAM||Discrete - 2~5%eMCP -2~10%||> -5%|
|Consumer DRAM||DDR3 ~-7%DDR4 ~-10%||> -10%|
|DRAM ASP||-7~10%||> -10%|
These price drops largely result from corresponding production increases, but tensions between the U.S. and China might also be helping matters. The countries have been using the DRAM market as one front in their latest trade war, with both alleging that companies from either side of the Pacific have been unfairly competing in this segment. DRAMeXchange explained that this could result in a less predictable market:
"For the PC DRAM segment, DRAMeXchange expects the prices to decline by over 10% QoQ in 1Q19, because PC DRAM products are highly sensitive to the change in demand and supply situations. The continued supply increase, headwinds in the low season, and excess inventories would make the price drop steeper compared with this quarter. Similarly, server DRAM products would experience an even larger price drop. In addition to current high inventories held by server DRAM consumers and the seasonal headwinds, U.S-China trade disputes may also bring more uncertainties to the market."