memory price


2021-09-23

NAND Flash Market Will See Falling Quotes and 0-5% QoQ Declines in Contract Prices for 4Q21, Says TrendForce

The latest analysis of the NAND Flash market from TrendForce finds that shipments have been below expectations for consumer electronics such as smartphones, Chromebooks, and TVs during this second half of the year. At the same time, demand remains sluggish for retail storage products including memory cards and USB drives. Data centers and enterprise servers represent the only applications that show relatively strong demand. With the inventory level of the demand side steadily rising, the procurement momentum of NAND Flash buyers will become more constrained going forward. The gradual weakening of demand is also relieving the shortage of NAND Flash controller ICs. Taking account of these factors, TrendForce forecasts that quotes for NAND Flash products will begin to fall in 4Q21, and NAND Flash contract prices will register QoQ declines of 0-5% for that period.

For 4Q21, Contract Prices of Client SSDs Will Drop by 3-8% QoQ, Whereas Contract Prices of Enterprise SSDs Will Rise Slightly by 0-5% QoQ

Countries in North America and Europe are gradually lifting COVID-19 restrictions as their vaccination rates rise. Consequently, schools and businesses in those countries have also reopened and resumed normal operation. Due to this development, the demand for Chromebooks, which are mainly purchased by academic institutions, has started to slide rapidly. The demand for consumer notebook (laptop) computers has slowed down as well. Among different types of notebook computers, only commercial models continue to experience growing demand. On the side of device manufacturers, the shortages of other types of non-memory ICs are disrupting the operations of ODMs. In particular, the prolonged nationwide lockdown in Malaysia has aggravated the undersupply situation for PMICs. This problem not only impacts the production of PCs and notebook computers but also affects the product assembly capacity of some SSD suppliers.

Additionally, NAND Flash suppliers are rapidly raising production capacity for NAND Flash products that are 128 or higher in layer count. As a result, supply is gradually outpacing demand for SSDs. TrendForce believes that suppliers will become increasingly proactive in pricing in order to raise the consumption of their production output by customers and thus prevent excess inventory. Hence, contract prices of client SSDs are forecasted to make a downward turn in 4Q21 and register QoQ declines of 3-8%.

Regarding enterprise SSDs, customers in the data center segment have raised the volumes of their orders for two quarters straight, and their inventories have been climbing steadily as well. Therefore, the demand for enterprise SSDs will start to weaken in 4Q21. The procurement of enterprise SSDs by server OEMs will continue to be sustained by server shipments to medium and small enterprises in 4Q21. However, the total server shipments for the same period will be impacted by the ongoing IC shortage. Server shipments are forecasted to drop by nearly 9% QoQ for 4Q21, and the demand bits related to enterprise SSDs will also fall by 7% QoQ for the same period.

Turning to the supply side of the enterprise SSD market, lead time has been prolonged for the enterprise SSD controller ICs from Intel because Intel’s main base for packaging and testing this kind of chip is located in Malaysia, which is now a COVID-19 hotspot. The situation is not expected to improve in 4Q21, so bit shipments of enterprise SSDs from Intel will shrink from 3Q21. Since Intel’s market share for enterprise SSDs is fairly large, the effect of the recent COVID-19 outbreaks in Malaysia on contract prices of enterprise SSDs will be significant. TrendForce currently forecasts that contract prices of enterprise SSDs will rise by 0-5% QoQ for 4Q21. The hike will be mainly caused by the lack of components on the supply side rather than an increase in demand.

5-10% Reduction Projected for eMMC Prices amidst Significant Drop of End Demand

The demand for major consumer products, such as TVs and tablets, has started to weaken after the conclusion of the traditional peak season of stocking, as well as the gradual withdrawal of subsidization policy from the US. The continuous elevation of the vaccination rate in European and American countries, followed by a progressive mitigation of lockdown measures in various countries and successive resumption of school operations, have yielded an apparent impact to the demand for notebooks and tablets related to education purposes, while the aggravated stocking from the buyers during 1H21 in fear of shortages in NAND Flash controller IC has increased the inventory level and further suppressed eMMC orders. Despite stable capacity for low density 2D MLC NAND, as well as confined supply of NAND Flash controller due to the full load capacity of 28/40nm processes from foundries, the prices have been deprived of support owing to the sizable depletion in end demand, where a prominent decrement of 5-10% is expected for relevant products during 4Q21 after the substantial increase in 2Q21.

0-5% Reduction Projected for UFS Prices amidst Enhanced Supply and Diminished Demand

TrendForce has downward revised the projections to the annual production of smartphones under the fluctuating COVID-19 pandemic status in Southeast Asia. In addition, the stocking demand for new iPhones and flagships of various brands will gradually decelerate upon entering 4Q21, while the peak season of stocking is soon to be transitioned to the imminent off season. Purchase dynamics of UFS are expected to further subside. Regarding supply, mobile clients are currently using similar layers in products to that of PC OEMs after the spontaneous incorporation of 1xxL by different brands during 1Q21, and the provision of products with higher layers is expected to amplify under PC products’ expansion of market satisfaction and the unmitigated component gaps of ODMs. UFS quotations are estimated to deteriorate by 0-5% in 4Q21 under enhanced supply and diminished demand.

NAND Flash Wafer Prices to Sustain the Largest Quarterly Decrease of 10-15% amidst Subsided Demand for Major Applications

The demand performance for retail end products has been sluggish since the beginning of 2021 aside from the temporal nourishment from the related demand for a storage-based cryptocurrency (Chia) between April and May. Memory cards and USB flash drives have been sluggish in sales since 2Q21 due to the successive exacerbation of the pandemic status in India and Southeast Asia, and the sales of retail SSD from channels have been impeded owing to the shortages of graphics cards, which obstructs the bundling with assembled computers. The fluctuation of cryptocurrency prices, for which the plummeting had slightly improved the shortages of graphics cards at one time, has triggered another recovery in the demand for mining, and further inhibits the sales volume of SSD. It is worth noting that the diverted tendency between end products and upstream components has manifested considerable pressure to module houses.

Pressure from the sales of NAND Flash wafer inventory is expected to gradually magnify for suppliers under the worse-than-expected demand for products such as notebooks, smartphones, and TVs. Few suppliers have signaled their willingness in active provision during 4Q21, though the continuously enlarging void of PMIC has instead entangled the shipment of finished enterprise SSD, which intensifies the sales pressure of NAND Flash wafer. Furthermore, YMTC, WDC, and Micron have initiated an active supply of 128, 112, and 176L product samples to module houses for testing and incorporation. The incorporation of higher layers will further refine shipment cost that will obtain additional room in price reduction for suppliers. 3D NAND wafer is expected to sustain the largest depletion among all product categories at 10-15% during 4Q21.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-08-02

Sudden Drop in Cryptocurrency Prices Hurts Graphics DRAM Market in 3Q21, Says TrendForce

The stay-at-home economy remains robust due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so the sales of gaming products such as game consoles and the demand for related components are being kept at a decent level, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. However, the values of cryptocurrencies have plummeted in the past two months because of active interventions from many governments, with the graphics DRAM market entering into a bearish turn in 3Q21 as a result. While graphics DRAM prices in the spot market will likely show the most severe fluctuations, contract prices of graphics DRAM are expected to increase by 10-15% QoQ in 3Q21 since DRAM suppliers still prioritize the production of server DRAM over other product categories, and the vast majority of graphics DRAM supply is still cornered by major purchasers.

It should be pointed out that, given the highly volatile nature of the graphics DRAM market, it is relatively normal for graphics DRAM prices to reverse course or undergo a more drastic fluctuation compared with other mainstream DRAM products. As such, should the cryptocurrency market remain bearish, and manufacturers of smartphones or PCs reduce their upcoming production volumes in light of the ongoing pandemic and component supply issues, graphics DRAM prices are unlikely to experience further increase in 4Q21. Instead, TrendForce expects prices in 4Q21 to largely hold flat compared to the third quarter.

Sudden drop in ETH prices led to plummeting GDDR5 and GDDR6 spot prices

Recent observations on the spot trading of graphics DRAM products indicate that the changes in this market closely correlate to the changes in the value of ether (ETH) because graphics cards are the crucial tool for processing the mining algorithm of this cryptocurrency. ETH prices fell by more than 50% within a two-month span as a result of the latest measures enacted by regulatory agencies around the world to suppress the speculation of cryptocurrencies. Accordingly, cryptocurrency miners’ and investors’ interest in ETH has also diminished significantly. The plunging demand from cryptocurrency miners also means that a substantial number of graphics cards are being pushed into the second-hand market. TrendForce’s investigation shows that spot prices of graphics cards have fallen by about 20-60% over the past month or more. The differences in the magnitude of decline depends on brand and technology generation. Furthermore, the across-the-board decline in spot prices of graphics cards has also severely constrained the spot demand for graphics DRAM.

According to TrendForce’s understanding, even though spot prices are still higher than contract prices for GDDR6 chips, the difference is rapidly shrinking. This, in turn, will have an adverse effect on the general price trend of GDDR6 chips in the future. The trading is even more subdued for GDDR5 chips that are used in the earlier generations of graphics cards. Spot prices are now actually about 20% lower than contract prices for GDDR5 chips. The difference here indicates that there is a glut of older graphics cards, and the GDDR5 chips that are embedded in them are no longer in high demand.

Contract prices of graphics DRAM are expected to increase by nearly 15% for 3Q21 as graphics DRAM suppliers’ fulfillment rate remains relatively low

Regarding the contract market for graphics DRAM, the sell-side has considerable leverage in price negotiations as these suppliers prioritize the production of server DRAM ahead of other product categories. In the current ecosystem of discrete graphics cards, graphics DRAM buyers such as Nvidia are still opting for a business model based on bundle sales (that is, graphics card manufacturers that purchase Nvidia GPUs must also purchase graphics DRAM from Nvidia). Given that Nvidia and AMD have cornered the vast majority of graphics DRAM supply, notebook OEMs and small- and medium-sized manufacturers of computer components (such as motherboards) will find it difficult to procure sufficient graphics DRAM, while DRAM suppliers’ fulfillment rate for graphics DRAM chips remains relatively low. These aforementioned factors are responsible for not only the nearly 15% QoQ hike in the overall contract prices of graphics DRAM for 3Q21 (which is slightly higher than the corresponding price hikes in mainstream PC and server DRAM products for 3Q21), but also why spot prices of GDDR6 chips are about 10-15% higher than contract prices.

On the whole, prices in the graphics DRAM spot market, which is an extremely responsive market, have already begun to reflect the weakening demand from the end-product segment, particularly for graphics cards used in cryptocurrency mining. As the supply of second-hand graphics card increases, some graphics card manufacturers may thus kick off promotional price cuts to boost sales. In addition, buyers in the spot market may also begin anticipating even lower prices, and this anticipation will likely either lead to a massive decline in their graphics card demand or result in these buyers adopting a speculative attitude regarding graphics DRAM. TrendForce therefore believes that the gap between spot prices and contract prices of GDDR6 chips will begin to narrow in 3Q21.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-06-08

Memory Prices Likely to Continue Rising in 3Q21 as Suppliers Keep a Low Level of Inventory, Says TrendForce

Memory suppliers are currently carrying a relatively low level of inventory because of aggressive stock-up activities of clients across different application segments in 1H21, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. More specifically, inventories of DRAM suppliers and NAND Flash suppliers are averaging 3-4 weeks and 4-5 weeks, respectively. The overall procurement of server memory products is expected to intensify in 3Q21, so memory suppliers do not see the necessity in lowering quotes to drive sales. TrendForce forecasts that DRAM prices will rise further by 3-8% QoQ for 3Q21. On the other hand, thanks to the growing demand for enterprise SSDs and NAND Flash wafers, TrendForce has also corrected up the magnitude of the QoQ increase in NAND Flash prices for 3Q21 to 5-10% (compared with the previous projection of 3-8%).

High inventory may pose potential risk for smartphone brands in 2H21 due to decreased smartphone production targets

Under the market spotlight are smartphone brands and notebook manufacturers, which drastically differ in their inventory levels. Regarding the smartphone market, TrendForce has already lowered the YoY growth rate of the global total smartphone production in 2021 to 8.5% from the previous projection of 9.4% as the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic takes place across India. Presently, smartphone brands are carrying 8-10 weeks of inventory on average for DRAM and NAND Flash. Two newly emerged factors are generating some concerns about the high level of inventory. First, Chinese brands have lowered their production targets and begun to adjust inventories in order to address the issue of component gaps. Second, Southeast Asia is bracing for a resurgence of COVID-19 outbreaks that could disrupt smartphone production and weaken consumer demand.

PC OEMs are holding up to 10 weeks’ worth of DRAM inventory on average; price hike of PC DRAM in 2H21 will likely be limited as a result

Regarding the notebook market, on the other hand, PC OEMs are currently carrying about 8-10 weeks’ worth of DRAM inventory on average, with some PC OEMs having an even higher inventory level, primarily because the stay-at-home economy this year will continue to propel the demand for notebook computers, about 238 million units of which are expected to be produced this year, a 14.3% increase YoY. Furthermore, in view of the shortage of components in the upstream supply chain, including audio CODECs, analog ICs, power ICs, MCUs, and LED drivers, PC OEMs are anticipating that DRAM will be in similar shortage as well, thus potentially leading to an inability to manufacture notebooks. In response, PC OEMs are therefore prompted to expand their DRAM procurement in 1H21. On the NAND Flash front, the persistent shortage of NAND Flash controller ICs means that PC OEMs generally carry about 4-5 weeks’ worth of NAND Flash inventory on average, which is relatively lower than their DRAM inventory.

TrendForce forecasts that Chinese smartphone brands will slow down their procurement of mobile DRAM and NAND Flash solutions during 2H21. However, contract prices of memory products on the whole will unlikely experience a general decline in the second half of the year because demand remains fairly robust in other application segments. On the PC and NB front, changes in the fulfillment rates of components that are in shortage will become the key determinant of how PC OEMs evaluate their inventory of well-stocked components. It should be pointed out that, as PC OEMs have been maintaining a relatively high inventory of DRAM, the increase in PC DRAM prices in 2H21 will be markedly muted as a result.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-06-03

Enterprise SSD Prices Projected to Increase by More Than 10% QoQ in 3Q21 Due to Growing Procurement Capacity, Says TrendForce

Enterprise SSD procurement has been rising on the back of growing server shipments since 2Q21, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. In particular, the share of 8TB products in shipments of SSDs to data centers has shown the most noticeable growth, which is expected to persist through 3Q21. However, certain SSD components and parts may be in shortage due to insufficient foundry capacity. TrendForce is therefore revising the QoQ hikes in contract prices of enterprise SSDs for 3Q21 to 10-15% from the previous projection of 5-10%.

TrendForce further indicates that the high demand for enterprise SSDs in 3Q21 is attributed to several factors. First, North American cloud service providers (hyperscalers) have pretty much completed their inventory adjustments and now continue to expand their storage capacity. Second, the flow of incoming orders to traditional server brands is getting stronger over the quarters as government agencies and SMBs increase their budgets for IT infrastructure. Third, Intel and AMD are ramping up production for server CPUs based on their respective new processor platforms. Following the adoption of new CPUs, the overall demand for enterprise SSDs has also shifted to higher-density products because clients want to upgrade their computing power and storage capacity. Specifically, demand is mainly trending toward 4/8TB SSDs since raising NAND Flash density can lower the cost of SSD deployment.

Supply leader Samsung will likely gain control over enterprise SSD pricing in the market

Regarding the supply end, Samsung has a higher flexibility in supplying SSDs compared to the other suppliers because it has a higher share of in-house components for its storage products. Therefore, in view of the possible shortage in certain SSD components, Samsung will likely be able to further expand its market share for enterprise SSDs. Furthermore, Samsung’s products are expected to account for more than 50% of enterprise SSDs (in terms of bits) shipped to data centers in North America in 3Q21. This dominance will likely further Samsung’s ability to dictate market prices going forward.

Intel, on the other hand, has been constrained in its ability to manufacture enterprise SSDs due to a shortage of PMICs. In addition, Intel has mostly been fulfilling orders for QLC products. As a result, Intel’s market share may potentially decrease in the TLC-dominant enterprise SSD sector. Regarding other suppliers including Kioxia and SK Hynix, although they have been able to raise their market shares due to gradual adoption of their products by clients, they are unlikely to catch up to Samsung for the time being.

On the PC client SSD front, at the moment, demand for notebook computers has remained strong, while the supply of SSD controller IC is still relatively tight. TrendForce therefore forecasts a slight 3-8% QoQ increase in client SSD contract prices for 3Q21. Regardless, suppliers will not slow down their process migrations. Starting from 3Q21, 176L PC client SSDs will be available on the market, with a corresponding increase in supply bits in the upstream SSD supply chain.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

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