Q2 DRAM prices to rise

Strong PC OEM demand fuels shortage

SDRAM prices on both the contract and spot markets will rise this month by up to 20 per cent, market watcher DRAMeXchange reported today.

DRAMX is forecasting price rises across the board, both for regular SDRAM and for DDR memory. On the contract market, where prices are typically applied across a half-month period, 266, 333 and 400MHz 256Mb DDR chip prices are set to jump 10.5 per cent, from and average of $4.75 to $5.25, DRAMX forecasts.

128Mb 133MHz SDRAM will rise 9.6 per cent, from $3.65 to $4, while 256Mb chip prices will increase from $5.20 to $5.95, a jump of 14.4 per cent.

In the spot arena, those two SDRAM densities will experience price rises of 7.6 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively, this week. The 128Mb price will increase from $4.60 to $4.96; 256Mb from $5 to $6.

The spot 256Mb 400MHz DDR price will go from $6.52 to $7.05, a rise of 8.1 per cent, DRAMX predicts. The same density at 333MHz will increase 7.3 per cent, going from $6.48 to $6.95. A 256Mb 266MHz DDR chip will cost $6.80 at the end of the week, up from $6.45, a jump of 5.4 per cent. The 128Mb 266MHz DDR chip will see a 12.8 per cent increase, from $2.35 to $2.65.

DRAMX puts the increases down to strong demand from PC OEMs, which is encouraging DIMM makers to grab as much DDR memory as they can, in order to build up inventory and - it believes - in anticipation of tighter supply down the line. Buyers reckon supply on the spot market will remain tight and that contract prices will rise to maintain the high prices being commanded on the spot market, DRAMX said.

On the spot market, for example, DDR prices have gone up by over $1 since 30 March, from $5.29 (266MHz and 333MHz) and $5.25 (400MHz) to $6.54 (266MHz), $6.47 (333MHz) and $6.43 (400MHz).

"As of 5 April, the prices shot up ten per cent within two hours of the Asian market opening," said DRAMX. "The upward momentum is mainly driven by the pulling-up strength in Chinese market as well as USA market."

It added: "We reiterate our bullish outlook for the DRAM market for the year. The semiconductor recovery is clearly seen and the corporate replacement demand is likely to jump for the second half of the year. Even the supply is also expected to increase by more capacity ramp up in 300mm and better yield rate on 110nm [going into] Q3 and Q4. However, the growth of the demand is estimated to be stronger than the increase of the supply."

Contract prices for 256MB DDR DIMMs during the first half of April were up 12 per cent on the second half of March, with prices ranging from $38 to $41. According to DRAMX, most memory makers believe PC suppliers will honour their commitments to buy, even at the higher price. That, they say, will push spot and contract prices higher in Q2 since "they can't fulfil the demand".

DRAMX reckons the second half of April will see contract prices rise beyond $40-42. ®