DDR3 SDRAM continues to be the bellwether of the memory market. Despite fluctuations in pricing, product continues to be scarce and lead times continue to be an issue. Lead times for DDR3 memory ranges from 12 to 16 weeks with inventory levels remaining tight. Forecasts are pushing lead times to early 2015 for deliveries. Within the last week, no delivery confirmations are being provided. In addition, news of a production capacity slowdown in 2015 is putting extra pressure on DDR3 prices.
On the other end of the spectrum, demand for DDR1 x16 devices has risen and the mid-level densities are currently the preferred parts. The highest demand for DDR1 is the obsoleted 512Mb x16 and x8 product, and lead times are still running in the 16-week range. With most major manufacturers discontinuing DDR1, demand is catching up to supply for the discontinued DDR1 parts, and as a result prices have started to increase slightly.
NAND flash orders have also started to follow the DDR3 trend in regards to confirmations and lead-time push outs. Prices have slowly risen over the past week and all indications are that they’ll continue this upward trend. Prices continue to inch up amidst demand for compact flash cards and SSD drives. However, manufacturers are still locked in hefty price battles. Multiple manufacturers have begun to ramp up production on NAND flash to support a double-digit increase in demand for SSD drives. SSD pricing has been declining steadily over the past months as market share has been up for grabs.
Other components also are experiencing long lead times. With the first shipments of Apple's new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the strong global smartphone market continues to have a dramatic impact on component lead times and fab capacities.
Several wafer fab companies and semiconductor manufacturers, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and Microchip, have already announced that production capacities for Q4 2014 are sold out. Lead times for many manufacturer product lines continue to remain at extended levels well into the holiday production season. These include the following:
- Broadcom and Marvell network processors, controllers, transceivers/receivers, and switches are running 16 to 20 weeks.
- PLX Technology's peripheral controllers and switches are at 16 weeks.
- Semtech/Gennum's equalizers, serializers, receivers/transmitters, and driver product lines are running 16+ weeks.
- Altera's Cyclone FPGA families are as high as 18 to 22 weeks, while their Arria II products range between 20 to 22 weeks.
- Many of Microchip's PIC16Fxxx and PIC18Fxxxx products are 15+ weeks, with some stretching to 18 to 20 weeks.
- While lead times in general for ON Semi are improving on many of its discrete families, there continues to be issues with several popular packages. The SMA/SMB parts are up to 19 weeks, while some of the SOT23 devices are in the 16 to 23 week range. Many of the D2PAK products are at 17 to 20 weeks.
Year-end production close is only 14 weeks away, which is sooner than many of the lead times from manufacturers such as Altera, Atmel, Broadcom, Gennum/Semtech, Marvell, Microchip, ON Semi, and ST Micro.
John McKay is the director of purchasing at America II Electronics. In his current role, John oversees the company’s purchasing department and is responsible for the enhancement and growth of America II’s sourcing capabilities. John started his career with America II in 1991, working five years in OEM sales and 15 years as a sales manager. In 2012 he was promoted to business development manager. In this role he was able to execute global solutions through business development by implementing supplier technologies with customers’ evolving demands, while overcoming inter-company barriers to successfully improve efficiencies and profit for the company and its customers.