Contract prices for server DRAM modules have increased more than 25 percent at the start of the first quarter in 2017 due to tight supply, according to the latest report by DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce. In some cases, the sequential price hikes for high-density server DRAM modules are closer to 30 percent.
DRAMeXchange analysts peg the average worldwide contract price for DDR4 R-DIMM 32 GB modules at $200, while tags for 16-GB modules have reached about $100. They attribute the rise in prices for server DRAMs to the “ongoing PC DRAM price rally.”
At the same time, the rise in prices for server DRAM modules is driving demand from server manufacturers that want to keep enough memory IC inventory on-hand before the prices rise even further, according to DRAMeXchange.
DRAM supply is expected to remain tight due to leading DRAM makers that are limiting their increases in production capacity. DRAMeXchange also anticipates that DRAM makers will “adjust their product mixes so that prices and margins of their server DRAM products will also remain high.”
Rising prices and increased demand for memory ICs are two primary reasons why industry market research firms like IC Insights expect sales of memory ICs to show the strongest growth rate among all semiconductor categories. The market for memory ICs including DRAM and NAND flash is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.3 percent, reaching $109.9 billion in 2021, up from $77.3 billion in 2016, according to the IC Insights’ 2017 McClean Report.
IC Insights attributes the strong memory CAGR to surging low-power memory requirements for DRAM and NAND flash in portable wireless devices like smartphones and increased demand for solid-state drives (SSDs) used in big-data storage applications and notebook computers. The market research firm also expects year-over-year DRAM bit volume growth to increase throughout the forecast to support virtualization, graphics, and other complex, real-time workload applications.
All IC categories, together, are expected to grow at an annual rate of 4.9 percent over the forecast period. Analog ICs rank second in growth rate due to demand in both advanced and low-budget systems. A few of the biggest analog growth drivers include power management devices for extending battery life in portable and wireless systems and signal conversion ICs.
The weakest market is logic devices, including general-purpose logic, ASICs, field-programmable logic, display drivers, and application-specific standard products.
“Total microcomponent sales have cooled significantly,” said IC Insights. “Fortunately, marginal gains in the cellphone MPU market and strong gains in the 32-bit MCU market have helped offset weakness of standard PC and tablet microprocessor sales.”