Micron


2021-08-23

DRAM Revenue Undergoes 26% Increase QoQ for 2Q21 Owing to Rising Quotes and Higher-Than-Expected Shipment, Says TrendForce

After DRAM prices made a rebound into an upward trajectory in 1Q21, buyers expanded their DRAM procurement activities in 2Q21 as they anticipated a further price hike and insufficient supply going forward, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Not only was demand robust from clients in the notebook segment, which benefitted from ongoing WFH and distance learning applications, but CSPs also sought to gradually replenish their DRAM inventories. Furthermore, demand for products that are relatively niche, including graphics DRAM and consumer DRAM, remained strong. Hence, DRAM suppliers experienced better-than-expected QoQ increases in their DRAM shipment for 2Q21. At the same time, DRAM quotes grew by a greater magnitude compared to the first quarter as well. With both shipment and quotes undergoing growths in tandem, DRAM suppliers registered remarkable growths in their revenues in 2Q21. Total DRAM revenue for 2Q21 reached US$24.1 billion, a 26% QoQ increase.

However, heading into 3Q21, the issue of mismatched component availability began surfacing in the upstream supply chain and bottlenecking the assembly of electronic devices. Some OEMs/ODMs (especially notebook manufacturers) have therefore scaled down their DRAM procurement due to their relatively high level of DRAM inventory in comparison with other components. As a result, although most DRAM suppliers remain bullish on the market’s future, the growth in demand from certain product segments is likely to slow down, since DRAM buyers still carry ample inventory. In light of suppliers’ insistence on raising quotes, TrendForce expects the overall ASP of DRAM products for 3Q21 to undergo a QoQ increase, albeit at a narrower 3-8% now compared to 2Q21.

DRAM suppliers significantly improved their earnings performances in 2Q21 due to massive price hikes and increased shipment of products manufactured with advanced process technologies

The three dominant suppliers (Samsung, SK hynix, and Micron) of DRAM products put up similar revenue performances for 2Q21 as they saw an increase in both ASP and shipment, with the latter surpassing the suppliers’ expectations. On the demand side, buyers showed an increased willingness to expand DRAM procurement because they anticipated that prices will rise even further. In addition, frequent shortages of various semiconductor components this year drove buyers to stock up on DRAM ahead of time so as to avoid potential manufacturing bottlenecks due to low DRAM inventory. Hence, each of the three suppliers increased its revenue by more than 20% QoQ in 2Q21. Samsung in particular registered the most remarkable growth, at a 30.2% QoQ increase. For 3Q21, these suppliers will not only continue to hike up quotes, but also increase their quarterly shipments by a similar magnitude. TrendForce thus expects their market shares to remain relatively unchanged from the previous quarter.

DRAM suppliers likewise experienced considerable growths in terms of profitability for 2Q21 thanks to the massive increase in DRAM quotes, along with the fact that DRAM products manufactured with advanced process technologies occupied a growing share of the suppliers’ DRAM bit shipment. For instance, while Samsung kicked off mass production with the 1Znm process in 1Q21 at a relatively low yield rate (since the technology was still in its infancy at the time), the company was able to considerably ramp up production in 2Q21, thereby raising its operating profit margin from 34% in 1Q21 to a staggering 46% in 2Q21. SK hynix similarly raised its operating profit margin to 38% in 2Q21 by improving the yield rate of its advanced process technology. Micron, on the other hand, increased its DRAM quotes by a similar magnitude compared to its Korean competitors in 2Q21 (Micron counts the March-May period as its fiscal quarter) and saw a jump in its operating profit margin from 26% in 1Q21 to 37% in 2Q21. Assuming that prices and shipment continue their upward trajectory in 3Q21, TrendForce is bullish on DRAM suppliers’ profitability for the quarter as well and expects market leader Samsung to reach 50% in operating profit margin for the first time in nearly three years.

Taiwanese suppliers delivered similar revenue growths to the three dominant suppliers’ in 2Q21 thanks to persistent market demand for specialty DRAM

Taiwanese DRAM suppliers posted a massive increase in their revenues for 2Q21 owing to persistently high specialty DRAM quotes and high demand from clients. More specifically, Nanya Tech’s revenue grew by about 28% QoQ for 2Q21, and its operating profit margin increased from 17.1% in 1Q21 to 31.2% in 2Q21. These growths can primarily be attributed to a 30% increase in the company’s specialty DRAM quotes, and Nanya Tech has expressed that it expects further earnings growth in 3Q21. Winbond, on the other hand, saw strong demand from its clients and raised its DRAM quotes by a greater magnitude than its NAND Flash quotes. Winbond’s revenue from its DRAM business not only rose by 39% QoQ in 2Q21, but also accounted for an increasing share of its total revenue, at 46%.

It should be pointed out that the two aforementioned Taiwanese suppliers are still currently facing the issue of insufficient production capacities, and their existing fabs do not have the physical space to house additional manufacturing equipment. Hence, before these suppliers finish constructing new fabs, they must rely on raising quotes in order to grow their DRAM businesses in the short run. Nanya Tech’s new fab that is currently under construction will not be able to contribute to the company’s production capacity until construction concludes in 2024. In the short run, Nanya is able to marginally increase its bit output only through migrating to advanced process technologies at the 1A/1Bnm nodes. Similarly, Winbond will not be able to resolve its issue of insufficient production capacity until its fab located in Luzhu, Kaohsiung, kicks off mass production in 2H22. As for PSMC, its revenue from sales of PC DRAM products manufactured in-house increased by about 7% QoQ in 2Q21. However, PSMC’s total revenue from both sales of in-house DRAM and its DRAM foundry business increased by 19% QoQ in 2Q21. Much like its Taiwanese competitors, PSMC must carefully allocate its limited production capacity between logic IC products and memory products.

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

2021-08-11

Server DRAM Prices Expected to Rise by 5-10% QoQ in 3Q21 Due to Peak Season, Says TrendForce

Suppliers and clients in the server DRAM market are still having difficulty in reaching agreements on prices for 3Q21 contracts even though the quarter is well underway, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Hence, server DRAM contract prices are much more varied than before. Regarding the price trend in July, contract quotes for the mainstream 32GB RDIMMs rose by 5-7% MoM.

However, the price hikes have led to a reduction in demand, and there are indications that server DRAM sales bits will register some decline for 3Q21. The release of server CPUs based on the new platforms is driving the procurement of higher-density 64GB RDIMMs, but this has not resulted in a significant corresponding increase in content per unit. The general trend for buyers is to replace two 32GB modules with one 64GB module, rather than a one-to-one replacement as DRAM suppliers previously expected. Contract prices of 64GB RDIMMs rose by 5-7% MoM for July, though prices were below this range for some transactions.

TrendForce’s analysis shows that server DRAM suppliers and buyers are finding it difficult to reach a consensus on prices because DRAM suppliers expect that the demand for server DRAM modules is going to surge in 3Q21 as the third quarter is the traditional peak season for the server market. As well, suppliers also anticipate that the adoption of new server processor platforms will increase the memory content in servers.

With a more optimistic demand outlook, suppliers have adjusted their product mixes to allocate more of their production capacity to server DRAM. Hence, the supply fulfillment rate has risen significantly in the server DRAM market in 3Q21. Server DRAM buyers, on the other hand, already have a high level of inventory. Clients in the data center segment were aggressively stockpiling during the first half of this year due to worries about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the supply chain. They now need some time to consume their inventories and are reluctant to procure more DRAM modules.

Contract prices will be constrained to rise further in 4Q21 as demand side has turned conservative

Currently, enterprise server OEMs in North America have finished arranging their quarterly contracts, whereas numerous cloud service providers and Chinese enterprise server OEMs are still in the midst of negotiations. TrendForce believes that, in order to reach their targets for sales and shipments, server DRAM suppliers may be willing to cut more “special deals” for server DRAM products in August. Specifically, suppliers will push for lock-in contracts that offer adjustable prices for fixed quantities.

On the whole, the general behaviors of DRAM buyers with regards to procurement have changed noticeably form the first half of this year. As the demand related to servers, PCs, and other major applications slows down, the whole DRAM market will gradually shift to the state of oversupply. Since the DRAM market is an oligopoly, the major suppliers will still have significant leverage in price negotiations. Quotes for server DRAM products could therefore rise further by 5-10% QoQ in 3Q21. However, given that prices have yet to be finalized for a substantial portion of 3Q21 contracts, the transaction volume is also very limited. This, in turn, will inevitably create a lot of uncertainties with respect to the price trend in 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

2021-08-10

Contract Prices of PC DRAM Expected to Decline by 0-5% in 4Q21 as Spot Prices of DRAM Modules Continue to Weaken, Says TrendForce

Now that most negotiations over contract prices of PC DRAM for 3Q21 have concluded, DRAM suppliers’ low inventories and the arrival of the peak season for DRAM procurement have resulted in a 3-8% QoQ increase in PC DRAM contract prices for 3Q21, although this is a relatively muted growth compared to the 25% increase experienced in 2Q21, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations.

However, demand for PC DRAM in the spot market began to show signs of bearish movement in early July ahead of time, as DRAM suppliers continued to lower prices in order to adjust their DRAM inventories. Regarding the contract market, PC OEMs currently carry relatively high levels of DRAM inventory because they substantially stocked up on PC DRAM beforehand in anticipation of an upcoming shortage. Not only has PC OEMs’ high DRAM inventory put downward pressure on possible price hikes for PC DRAM, but the gradual lifting of COVID-related restrictions in Europe and the US will also likely lower the overall demand for notebook computers, thereby pulling down the overall demand for PC DRAM. TrendForce therefore forecasts a 0-5% QoQ decline in PC DRAM contract prices for 4Q21.

Regarding spot prices of DRAM modules, most major module suppliers have also started to lower prices in an attempt at inventory reduction, leading to a persistent downward trend for spot prices of PC DRAM modules throughout August. According to TrendForce’s findings, this decline in spot prices of mainstream PC DRAM modules, which began on May 20th, accumulated to 32% as of August 3. Furthermore, spot prices of PC DRAM modules have, for the first time in 2021, now fallen below contract prices for 3Q21 by almost as much as 20% and are unlikely to experience a price hike in the short run.

Since PC OEMs still keep a high inventory of PC DRAM, their upcoming procurement activities for PC DRAM will likely remain sluggish

An overview of the PC DRAM market throughout 2021 shows that, as the COVID-19 pandemic reached its peak in 2Q21, most purchasers aggressively stocked up on various components, including memory solutions, in order to avoid possible shortages, and these stock-up activities were particularly bullish in the PC market. As a result, PC DRAM prices underwent a massive 25% increase in April, and demand bits also saw a surge during the quarter.

Moving into 3Q21, buyers and sellers in the PC DRAM and server DRAM markets found it difficult to reach an agreement while negotiating over contract prices throughout the end of July. As such, the increase in PC DRAM prices for 3Q21, along with the increase in PC DRAM sales bits, is significantly weaker compared to 2Q21. In addition, TrendForce indicated at the end of June that most PC OEMs were carrying about 8 to 10 weeks’ worth of PC DRAM inventory, with some even surpassing 10 weeks. Their inventories have not undergone significant improvements as of early August. As these PC OEMs gradually take delivery of DRAM they procured for 3Q21, some of them now carry inventories exceeding 12 weeks’ supply. TrendForce therefore believes that the persistently growing inventories of PC OEMs will likely result in a further weakening of PC DRAM contract prices in 4Q21.

Looking ahead to 4Q21, TrendForce expects PC shipment, particularly Chromebook shipment, to remain in a downward trajectory following increased vaccinations in Europe and the US. The latest data show that branded Chromebook shipment peaked in 2Q21 and subsequently underwent monthly declines following this peak. Furthermore, the overall demand for notebook computers has started waning as the general public resumes its day to day activities, such as a return to offices and schools, in light of the gradual lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in Europe and the US. Hence, TrendForce believes that, despite the cyclical upturn of the notebook market in 4Q21, as well as the commercial segment’s replacement demand, ODMs will likely continue to cut back on notebook production on a quarterly basis, in turn decreasing the overall demand for PC DRAM.

Prices of both consumer DRAM and graphics DRAM are expected to enter into a downturn in 4Q21 owing to weak supply and demand

In sum, the sufficiency ratio of PC DRAM increased from -1.13% in 3Q21 to 0.28% in 4Q21. Hence, TrendForce expects contract prices of PC DRAM to take a downward turn in 4Q21, while prices of DDR4 consumer DRAM, which are highly correlated with PC DRAM prices, will likely undergo a similar decline. Likewise, contract prices of graphics DRAM are expected experience a looming decline as well, since the sudden cryptocurrency downturn resulted in a corresponding plummet in cryptocurrency mining demand and, by extension, spot prices of graphics DRAM, which is used in cryptocurrency mining equipment.

Regarding server DRAM, contract prices are expected to mostly hold flat, without noticeable hints of price hikes, in 4Q21. This trend can be attributed to the server industry’s migration to Intel’s new Ice Lake platform, which has been steadily rising in terms of penetration rate, as well as the fact that demand for servers has yet to weaken. However, MoM declines in server DRAM contract prices may potentially take place in November and December. Likewise, mobile DRAM prices are expected to remain relatively unchanged in 4Q21 compared to the previous quarter. The profitability and ASP/Gb of this product category are relatively lower compared to other DRAM products, such as PC DRAM and server DRAM, and it did not experience as much of an uptrend during the prior quarters. Hence, while PC DRAM prices are expected to decline in 4Q21, mobile DRAM prices will remain sustainable, without undergoing a similar decline.

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

2021-07-13

DRAM Prices for 3Q21 Projected to Undergo Minor QoQ Increase of 3-8% Owing to Rising Demand from Peak Season, Says TrendForce

As third quarters have typically been peak seasons for the production of various end-products, the sufficiency ratio of DRAM is expected to undergo a further decrease in 3Q21, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. However, DRAM buyers are now carrying a relatively high DRAM inventory due to their amplified purchases of electronic components in 1H21. The QoQ increase in DRAM contract prices are hence expected to slightly narrow from 18-23% in 2Q21 to 3-8% in 3Q21. Looking ahead to 4Q21, TrendForce believes that DRAM supply will continue to rise, thereby leading to either a further narrowing of price hikes or pressure constraining the potential price hike of DRAM products.

PC DRAM prices are expected to rise by 3-8% QoQ due to continued constraints on production capacities

From the perspective of demand, the stay-at-home economy has resulted in persistently high demand for notebook computers. Although discrepancies still exist among notebook brands’ inventory levels of various components, these brands are still making an aggressive attempt at maximizing their production of notebooks. However, as most of these brands are still carrying about 8-10 weeks’ worth of PC DRAM inventory (which is relatively high), PC DRAM purchasing strategies from the buyers’ side will therefore remain relatively conservative. From the perspective of supply, due to the rising demand for server DRAM, the production capacity allocated to PC DRAM is still in a severe supply crunch. Hence, DRAM suppliers are firm in their attitudes to raise PC DRAM quotes, and TrendForce expects the price negotiations between PC DRAM buyers and suppliers in 3Q21 to become both lengthier and more difficult as a result, with contract prices likely finalized at the end of July. Even so, what is now certain is that both sides have reached some level of understanding regarding the ongoing price hike of PC DRAM products. TrendForce forecasts a 3-8% increase in PC DRAM contract prices for 3Q21.

QoQ increase in server DRAM prices for 3Q21 are expected to narrow to 5-10% due to buyers carrying a relatively high inventory

With regards to demand, in spite of the minor increase in the shipment of whole servers, server DRAM buyers are less aggressive in their server DRAM procurement compared to the previous quarter. For instance, CSPs in North America and in China are currently carrying more than eight weeks of server DRAM inventory. In other words, procurement activities for server DRAM will gradually decline in the coming quarters in accordance with market demand. Notably, some Tier 2 clients will continue to procure server DRAM in 3Q21 since they did not sufficiently stock up in the prior quarters, and this demand will likely result in upward momentum for server DRAM prices. With regards to supply, the three major DRAM suppliers (Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron) are limited by the fact they are currently carrying a relatively low inventory of server DRAM. As such, these suppliers will attempt to maintain their profitability by increasing prices each quarter. It should also be pointed out that the decreased DRAM demand from smartphone brands has in fact allowed more wiggle room for server manufacturers to negotiate for more favorable server DRAM prices. TrendForce thus believes that, before the supply side and demand side can reach an agreement, negotiations for server DRAM prices will become increasingly lengthy, and that server DRAM contract prices for 3Q21 will likely increase by 5-10% QoQ once negotiations are finalized.

Mobile DRAM prices are expected to defy market realities and increase by 5-15% QoQ, with potential risks of high price and low demand

In terms of demand, certain smartphone brands are now carrying a relatively higher inventory of mobile DRAM owing to Southeast Asia’s worsening COVID-19 pandemic, which led smartphone brands that primarily manufacture and sell their products there to begin lowering their production targets in 2Q21. In addition, some smartphone brands have set overly ambitious production targets; combined with the current shortage of foundry capacities, the discrepancies among the supply of smartphone components have now become more apparent, in turn forcing brands to slow down their mobile DRAM procurement in order to adjust their component inventories first. Demand has remained strong from clients in the smartphone market since 4Q21, so the supply fulfillment rate of the three major DRAM suppliers for their smartphone clients will be consistently higher compared to clients in other markets. As DRAM demand from non-smartphone applications ramps up and results in higher profitability than mobile DRAM, the three major DRAM suppliers will continue to adjust their production capacities in accordance with the shifting supply and demand from various segments, thus resulting in an increasingly constrained supply of mobile DRAM.

It should be pointed out that DRAM market leader Samsung has generally tried to minimize the profit discrepancies among its various products. Furthermore, the price hike in Samsung’s mobile DRAM products was relatively lower compared to Micron in 1H21. As a result, in view of the weakening mobile DRAM demand in 3Q21, Samsung will increase its mobile DRAM prices to a more notable extent compared to its US competitors. Going forward, Samsung’s price hike will lead its competitors to retool their pricing strategies, subsequently leading to an even wider price increase across the entire mobile DRAM market. As such, TrendForce expects mobile DRAM prices to increase by 5-15% QoQ in 3Q21, which is a step up compared to 2Q21. On the other hand, this price hike against market realities may potentially lead to a further decline in mobile DRAM demand, resulting in a situation with high price and low demand.

Graphics DRAM prices are expected to increase by 8-13% QoQ due to tight supply of GDDR6

Regarding graphics DRAM demand, many cryptocurrency miners were previously intent on mining ETH with older graphics cards as it reached peak prices. Nevertheless, the recent bearish turn of the cryptocurrency market has indirectly had an impact on demand for graphics cards equipped with GDDR5, although most of this impact primarily affected the spot market. For the contract market, more than 90% of graphics DRAM applications have migrated to GDDR6 products, which are now in short supply since new graphics cards are equipped with GDDR6 memory and are in high demand. In addition, the vast majority of GDDR6 stock from DRAM suppliers is currently cornered by graphics card manufacturers and game console manufacturers, thereby further limiting the graphics DRAM supply available to small and medium OEMs/ODMs. Regarding graphics DRAM supply, although GDDR6 accounts for more than 90% of the three major DRAM suppliers’ graphics DRAM production, demand for GDDR6 still far exceeds supply because end product demand has also migrated to GDDR6. As orders for server DRAM gradually ramp up in 3Q21, DRAM suppliers will prioritize fulfilling demand from the server market first. Hence, graphics DRAM contract prices for 3Q21 are expected to increase by 8-13% QoQ.

Consumer DRAM prices are expected to increase by up to 13% QoQ in light of strong demand

At the moment, consumer DRAM demand is relatively robust from the consumer electronics market and the telecom market. In addition, as China has been accelerating its build-out of 5G infrastructures and its rollout of WiFi 6 in the post-pandemic era, the overall demand for consumer DRAM remains strong going forward. On the other hand, the three dominant DRAM suppliers are slowing down their transition of production capacities from DDR3 products to CMOS Image Sensors or other Logic IC products now that the consumer DRAM market has taken a bullish turn. However, in the medium-to-long term, the general trend in the DRAM industry will still point to the elimination of the older 25/20nm process technologies and the continued migration towards more advanced 1Znm and 1αnm processes. As a result, given DDR3 products’ declining supply and strong demand, DDR3 prices for 3Q21 are expected to increase by 8-13% QoQ, while DDR4 prices are expected to undergo a minor growth of 3-8% QoQ in accordance with mainstream PC and server DRAM prices.

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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