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posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday September 19 2017, @05:42PM   Printer-friendly
from the it'll-cost-you-to-remember dept.

IC Insights has predicted that DRAM prices will continue to increase this year:

According to IC Insights, DRAM prices will continue to increase even though they have more than doubled (+111%) over the last 12 months. IC Insights predicts that by the end of the calendar year DRAM's price per bit will have jumped a record 40% (or more).

[...] Of course, the record pricing levels are great for our friends at the major foundries. Samsung, Micron, and Sk Hynix are also raking in their own record profits and enjoying healthy margins. We have both DRAM and NAND shortages occurring at the same time, which is great for the foundries, and unless a player breaks ranks to gain market share, we can expect more foot-dragging before any of the foundries increases output.

The booming mobile industry and server markets are exacerbating the issue, so you would expect that the fabs would boost DRAM output. Unfortunately, the three primary fabs (Micron bought Elpida, reducing the number of players) don't share the same vision.

IC Insights indicates that Micron will not increase production capacity, instead relying upon improvements in yields and shrinking down to smaller nodes to boost its DRAM bit output. Sk Hynix has expressed its desire to boost DRAM output but hasn't set a firm timeline for fab expansion (unlikely to occur in the near term). Samsung is as tight-lipped as usual, so we aren't sure of its intentions.

In the 1980s there were 23 major DRAM suppliers, but cutthroat pricing and continual oversupplies eventually led to the wave of consolidation that left us with the current three suppliers.

Previously:

December 2015: DDR4 Memory Prices Declined 40% in 6 Months

May 2017:
DRAM Price Surge Continues
Samsung Set to Outpace Intel in Semiconductor Revenues

July 2017:
Micron Temporarily Suspends Operation of DRAM Production Facility
Samsung Increases Production of 8 GB High Bandwidth Memory 2.0 Stacks

August 2017:
DRAM Prices Continue to Climb
Samsung & SK Hynix Graphics Memory Prices Increase Over 30% In August


Original Submission

Related Stories

DDR4 Memory Prices Declined 40% in 6 Months 15 comments

Both DDR4 and DDR3 memory prices are in steep decline, due to industry oversupply following process shrinks and a drop in demand for PCs and tablets:

Just a year ago DDR4 dynamic random access memory (DRAM) was rather expensive and was sold at a noticeable premium compared to DDR3. Today, DDR4 memory modules cost less than DDR3 modules cost a year ago and continue to get more affordable. Next year prices of DDR4 are expected to decline further as manufacturers of DRAM are gradually increasing production of memory in general and DDR4 in particular.

The average spot price of one 4Gb DDR4 memory chip rated to run at 2133MHz was $2.221 at press time, according to DRAMeXchange, one of the world's top DRAM and NAND market trackers based in Taipei, Taiwan. Spot price of a similar memory integrated circuit (IC) was $2.719 in late September and $3.618 in late June, 2015. As it turns out, the price of a single 4Gb DDR4 DRAM IC dropped 38.62% in about half of a year.

Spot prices of DDR3 memory are also declining. One 4Gb DDR3 chip rated to operate at 1600MHz cost $1.878 in Taiwan at press time. A similar chip was priced at $2.658 in late June, which means that the spot price of a 4Gb DDR3 IC dropped 29.4% in less than six months.

The difference between a 4Gb DDR3 memory chip and a 4Gb DDR4 DRAM IC used to be approximately 26.5% in June. Today, a 4Gb DDR4 chip costs about 18.5% more than a 4Gb DDR3 memory IC. Spot prices of DRAM chips directly affect prices of actual memory modules. At present one 4GB DDR4 SO-DIMM costs $18 in Taiwan, according to DRAMeXchange. A DDR3 4GB SO-DIMM is priced at $16.75. For many PC configurations, price difference between DDR3 and DDR4 memory modules is already negligible. Next year it will erode further and the new type of memory will replace DDR3 as the mainstream DRAM for personal computers and servers.


Original Submission

Samsung Set to Outpace Intel in Semiconductor Revenues 8 comments

Based on current projections for sales and NAND/DRAM pricing, Samsung's semiconductor revenues are likely to grow larger than Intel's during the second quarter of 2017. Intel has held the #1 spot in the industry since 1993:

Samsung's positioning is strengthening not just because of increased demand for RAM and flash memory, but because an ongoing NAND shortage is keeping prices high. Analysts blame a rocky transition from 2D to 3D NAND, increased demand from Chinese smartphone manufacturers, and the increasing popularity of SSDs as factors in the shortage.

On top of the RAM business, Samsung also says it's seeing solid demand for 14nm SoCs, image sensors, and other smartphone chips. The company expects its new 10nm process to keep the business growing. Samsung manufactures its own Exynos SoCs as well as some of Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips and some of the A-series chips Apple uses across its iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Apple TV lineups.

IC Insights report.

Related:
Samsung's Exynos 8895 to be the First 10nm Chip on the Market
Samsung's 10nm Chips in Mass Production, "6nm" on the Roadmap
Moore's Law: Not Dead? Intel Says its 10nm Chips Will Beat Samsung's


Original Submission

Micron Temporarily Suspends Operation of DRAM Production Facility 13 comments

Micron has temporarily suspended operation of a DRAM production facility, leading to predictions of shortages and rising prices:

TrendForce reports that Micron suspended the operation of its Fab-2 DRAM production facility on June 1 due to a malfunctioning nitrogen gas dispensing system. Micron responded that while there was an event, it didn't involve nitrogen leaking. However, Micron's admission of a problem is telling, as TrendForce predicts the event will eliminate 5.5% of the global DRAM production capacity for July. Interestingly, the market analyst firm also claims this could lead to an impact on production for Apple's new iPhone.

The 5.5% output reduction may not sound like a significant event, but in the past, similar issues have served as the catalyst for massive shortages. This could exacerbate the ongoing DRAM shortage, which has already seen DRAM prices rise appreciably.

DRAM prices are on the rise due to slow transitions to new nodes and increased demand in PC, mobile, and server segments. TrendForce predicts that the first quarter of 2017 suffered a 30% increase in the average contract pricing for DIMM modules. Making matters worse, the soothsayer predicts that we will see another 10% increase this quarter, and that is before accounting for the recent production interruption.

Also at Reuters, which reports that Micron denies the event will affect its business:

"Regarding recent rumours about Micron's fabrication facility in Taoyuan, Taiwan, Micron hereby clarifies that there was no nitrogen leaking incident nor evacuating of personnel," Micron said in a statement. "There was indeed a minor facility event but operations are recovering speedily without material impact to the business."

[...] TrendForce analysts base their reports on channel checks in the supply chain, a media officer with TrendForce told Reuters.

It's the floods all over again!


Original Submission

Samsung Increases Production of 8 GB High Bandwidth Memory 2.0 Stacks 1 comment

In response to increased demand, Samsung is increasing production of the densest HBM2 DRAM available:

Samsung on Tuesday announced that it is increasing production volumes of its 8 GB, 8-Hi HBM2 DRAM stacks due to growing demand. In the coming months the company's 8 GB HBM2 chips will be used for several applications, including those for consumers, professionals, AI, as well as for parallel computing. Meanwhile, AMD's Radeon Vega graphics cards for professionals and gamers will likely be the largest consumers of HBM2 in terms of volume. And while AMD is traditionally a SK Hynix customer, the timing of this announcement with AMD's launches certainly suggests that AMD is likely a Samsung customer this round as well.

Samsung's 8 GB HBM Gen 2 memory KGSDs (known good stacked die) are based on eight 8-Gb DRAM devices in an 8-Hi stack configuration. The memory components are interconnected using TSVs and feature over 5,000 TSV interconnects each. Every KGSD has a 1024-bit bus and offers up to 2 Gbps data rate per pin, thus providing up to 256 GB/s of memory bandwidth per single 8-Hi stack. The company did not disclose power consumption and heat dissipation of its HBM memory components, but we have reached out [to] Samsung for additional details.

Previously:
Samsung Announces Mass Production of HBM2 DRAM
CES 2017: AMD Vega GPUs and FreeSync 2
AMD Launches the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition


Original Submission

Samsung's Second Generation 10nm-Class DRAM in Production 1 comment

Samsung's second generation ("1y-nm") 8 Gb DDR4 DRAM dies are being mass produced:

Samsung late on Wednesday said that it had initiated mass production of DDR4 memory chips using its second generation '10 nm-class' fabrication process. The new manufacturing technology shrinks die size of the new DRAM chips and improves their performance as well as energy efficiency. To do that, the process uses new circuit designs featuring air spacers (for the first time in DRAM industry). The new DRAM ICs (integrated circuits) can operate at 3600 Mbit/s per pin data rate (DDR4-3600) at standard DDR4 voltages and have been validated with major CPU manufacturers already.

[...] Samsung's new DDR4 chip produced using the company's 1y nm fabrication process has an 8-gigabit capacity and supports 3600 MT/s data transfer rate at 1.2 V. The new D-die DRAM runs 12.5% faster than its direct predecessor (known as Samsung C-die, rated for 3200 MT/s) and is claimed to be up to 15% more energy efficient as well. In addition, the latest 8Gb DDR4 ICs use a new in-cell data sensing system that offers a more accurate determination of the data stored in each cell and which helps to increase the level of integration (i.e., make cells smaller) and therefore shrink die size.

Samsung says that the new 8Gb DDR4 chips feature an "approximate 30% productivity gain" when compared to similar chips made using the 1x nm manufacturing tech.
UPDATE 12/21: Samsung clarified that productivity gain means increase in the number of chips per wafer. Since capacity of Samsung's C-die and D-die is the same, the increase in the number of dies equals the increase in the number of bits per wafer. Therefore, the key takeaway from the announcement is that the 1y nm technology and the new in-cell data sensing system enable Samsung to shrink die size and fit more DRAM dies on a single 300-mm wafer. Meanwhile, the overall 30% productivity gain results in lower per-die costs at the same yield and cycle time (this does not mean that the IC costs are 30% lower though) and increases DRAM bit output.

The in-cell data sensing system and air spacers will be used by Samsung in other upcoming types of DRAM, including DDR5, LPDDR5, High Bandwidth Memory 3.0, and GDDR6.

Also at Tom's Hardware.

Previously: Samsung Announces "10nm-Class" 8 Gb DRAM Chips

Related: Samsung Announces 12Gb LPDDR4 DRAM, Could Enable Smartphones With 6 GB of RAM
Samsung Announces 8 GB DRAM Package for Mobile Devices
Samsung's 10nm Chips in Mass Production, "6nm" on the Roadmap
Samsung Increases Production of 8 GB High Bandwidth Memory 2.0 Stacks
IC Insights Predicts Additional 40% Increase in DRAM Prices


Original Submission

Trouble in the NAND Memory Chip Market... Or Not 8 comments

The explosive growth in the NAND flash market may be slowing down:

After a blistering year-and-a-half long surge, a sudden drop in some memory prices, followed by Samsung Electronics Co's disappointing profit estimate, is causing jitters among investors who had bet the chip boom would last at least another year.

Amid news that the market has started losing some steam - prices of high-end flash memory chips, which are widely used in smartphones, dropped nearly 5 percent in the fourth quarter - some analysts now expect the industry's growth rate will fall by more than half this year to 30 percent.

That led shares in Samsung to dip 7.5 percent last week, while its home rival SK Hynix fell 6.2 percent. But analysts say that there is unlikely to be a sudden crash, and that 2018 should be a relatively stable year for chipmakers.

The $122 billion memory chip industry has enjoyed an unprecedented boom since mid-2016, expanding nearly 70 percent in 2017 alone thanks to robust growth of smartphones and cloud services that require more powerful chips that can store more data.

Previously: Samsung Set to Outpace Intel in Semiconductor Revenues
Chaos as Toshiba Tries to Sell Memory Business
IC Insights Predicts Additional 40% Increase in DRAM Prices
Expect 20-30% Cheaper NAND in Late 2018


Original Submission

Weak Demand for DRAM Could Lead to Price Decreases in 2019 23 comments

Screeech... DRAM! Weak demand hits memory-makers as they slam on CAPEX brakes – analyst

The three DRAM suppliers are scaling back production growth as memory demand falters with no sign of recovery. The DRAMeXchange research outfit has said annual DRAM capital expenditure (CAPEX) growth has gone negative for 2019 as Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron respond to weak seasonal demand in the first quarter and beyond. DRAM prices had risen for nine consecutive quarters until the last 2018 quarter, when they fell 10 per cent compared to the third quarter.

The demand outlook for PCs, servers, smartphones, and other end-consumer products is weak and the threat of a China-US trade war is not helping things. DRAMeXchange expects first quarter DRAM prices to show a 15 per cent fall, and see 10 per cent in the next, and then 5 per cent in both the third and fourth quarters, unless something positive happens, like China and the USA becoming best buddies.

The three DRAM suppliers are locked into some production output growth this year but have scaled back their CAPEX plans and reduced growth expectations as a result of the price falls.

Related: Tsinghua to Build $30 Billion DRAM/NAND Fabrication Plant in Nanjing, China
IC Insights Predicts Additional 40% Increase in DRAM Prices
Samsung Preparing to Build Another Memory Fab Near Pyeongtaek for $27.8 Billion
U.S. Indicts Chinese DRAM Maker JHICC for Alleged Industrial Espionage


Original Submission

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  • (Score: -1, Spam) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @05:55PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @05:55PM (#570282)

    Hah! For sure we Dick Niggers.

    We ain't never fuck no old pussy.

    But yeah we fuck a lot of young pussy.

    Dick Niggers gonna DickRAM this big black nigger dick up yo cunt.

    • (Score: 0, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @06:42PM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @06:42PM (#570298)

      Then why, precisely, did you pick the banana peel of damaging nights over the gun of modification?

      • (Score: -1, Spam) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @06:47PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @06:47PM (#570301)

        Wow. Dick niggers meet chat bot.

        • (Score: -1, Spam) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @07:00PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @07:00PM (#570305)

          Why you little wusaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! An insignificant insect such as yourself can't possibly even begin to comprehend my true power, my true ferocity! I can't even stand the comicalness of such a thing! Hold on, why are all those people backing away in utter disgust of your mommasack? Let's see... what! It's... drippin' as such never before! I've never seen anything so revolting in my entire existenceness! Vanish already!

          • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @07:32PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @07:32PM (#570317)

            I can't even

            Me neither.

            • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @07:45PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @07:45PM (#570320)

              In what way does "Me neither." remind you of your relationship with your father?

    • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Tuesday September 19 2017, @07:54PM

      by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <themightybuzzard@proton.me> on Tuesday September 19 2017, @07:54PM (#570325) Homepage Journal

      I was beginning to despair of your creativity. I can still think of six ways around the regexes in place. Can you?

      --
      My rights don't end where your fear begins.
  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @06:41PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @06:41PM (#570297)

    This is why competition is so important; it's an essential element of evolution by variation (supplier competition) and selection (consumer choice).

    However, such competition can be a lot more complex than the obvious: Maybe now, programmers will have an incentive once again to make their programs less memory intensive; improvements in software can make negate the undue gains being sought by these colluding manufacturers. Decentralized solutions FTW!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @06:55PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @06:55PM (#570304)

      Since most programmers can't actually program, I'm not sure they even know how to make their programs less memory intensive. Why not just use up every last resource available, after all? Who on Earth would want to run countless programs simultaneously!?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @07:53PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @07:53PM (#570324)

      Oligopolies almost also suck. Always have, always will. Telecoms, the big-3 in Detroit before Japanese competition, Wintel, etc. are examples of self-protecting crap. They use "economies of scale" as an excuse, but the value of competition is usually greater than the benefit of economies of scale.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Gault.Drakkor on Tuesday September 19 2017, @09:13PM (1 child)

        by Gault.Drakkor (1079) on Tuesday September 19 2017, @09:13PM (#570363)

        They use "economies of scale" as an excuse, but the value of competition is usually greater than the benefit of economies of scale.

        Economies of scale do help the corporation as an individual corporation. Competition hurts the individual corporation in the short term. So from corporations point of view its a win-win to have fewer players.

        Whether or not they share those benefits of economies of scale is a different issue. As you suggest, sharing is strongly influenced by how much competition there is.

        My problem with what you said is that you seem to be merging it to being one point of view, that oligopolies, and monopolies suck. Which is false, where very clearly some parties benefit.

        I do agree with you in that once again shows; if there are large barriers to entry, which chip fabs represent, capitalism doesn't work so well. So this implies there should be market regulation.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 20 2017, @12:14AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 20 2017, @12:14AM (#570445)

          I meant from a consumers' standpoint. Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg obviously loves oligopolies.

    • (Score: 2) by richtopia on Tuesday September 19 2017, @08:40PM (1 child)

      by richtopia (3160) on Tuesday September 19 2017, @08:40PM (#570348) Homepage Journal

      DRAM is an example where barriers to entry slow market corrections. It takes A LOT of money to build a modern fab, and a long time. And that assumes it is one of the major players who already know how to make memory; if a new player is entering the industry then you have to learn how to yield too.

      Ultimately, memory is still affordable, so unfortunately I don't think this will result in programmers being more memory conscious. The one exception would be a mobile operating system: if Google prioritizes memory management in future builds of Android it would help the lower end devices. However, I'm skeptical that will happen, as features get promotions and sell phones, not better memory management.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @06:52PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @06:52PM (#570302)

    Hmm, I wonder if they own all the patents. It seems that the collusion here is pretty heavy. Maybe a little compulsory licensing would reinvigorate the market?

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by jelizondo on Tuesday September 19 2017, @08:27PM (4 children)

    by jelizondo (653) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 19 2017, @08:27PM (#570340) Journal

    The market is working as advertised! Just like evolution, the market prunes the inefficient, the lazy and the unfortunate leaving just one or two players, which then dominate the market and can do whatever they please. (I know there are three players now in this market, watch it shrink to maybe two, perhaps one.)

    Is this good for consumers?

    Before answering think about Microsoft, the most ruthless competitor currently in the market: it eliminated Borland, Lotus, Netscape, WordPerfect and many others to coronate itself king of the hill; exactly as the free market allows.

    Is a world full of Microsofts worth an unrestricted market or should we put some restrictions to promote diversity and competition?

    • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Tuesday September 19 2017, @08:46PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Tuesday September 19 2017, @08:46PM (#570350)

      Do not worry, citizen, the OCP has new products to ensure your safety.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @10:34PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19 2017, @10:34PM (#570408)

      You want a monopoly known as "government" to prevent monopolies.

      That just doesn't make sense.

      I'll stick with the Free Market, thanks; at least under a cultural appreciation for the free market, people have a way to route around bad centralization.

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by maxwell demon on Wednesday September 20 2017, @02:50AM (1 child)

        by maxwell demon (1608) on Wednesday September 20 2017, @02:50AM (#570510) Journal

        I prefer a monopoly on which everyone has influence to a monopoly on which only those with money have influence.

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 20 2017, @04:57AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 20 2017, @04:57AM (#570529)

          Surely, you're not suggesting such a government has ever existed.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by FakeBeldin on Tuesday September 19 2017, @09:01PM (1 child)

    by FakeBeldin (3360) on Tuesday September 19 2017, @09:01PM (#570357) Journal

    Is there anyone on SN who follows this sort of thing with an inkling of when price drops can be expected?
    It'd be nice to have an idea when the times, they might be a-changing.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by takyon on Tuesday September 19 2017, @09:48PM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Tuesday September 19 2017, @09:48PM (#570380) Journal

      Well, the exascale race should be heating up from around now to around 2023. Supercomputer centers may be building more machines during this period, targeting the 1 exaflops level, and ordering a lot of DRAM as a result.

      Businesses are buying into deep/machine learning and there are more chips targeting that. Google with its TPUs, Xeon Phi Knights Mill adding half-precision capabilities, the latest Nvidia Tesla GPUs, GPUs in vehicles, etc. Many if not all of these applications will need DRAM.

      Watch the PC and smartphone markets. PC demand had stabilized last time I checked but could fall again, and smartphones may be poised to fall.

      But analyzing these trends might be overkill. I was talking about DRAM oversupply in January [soylentnews.org]. These higher prices will eventually result in a glut of DRAM on the market and falling prices, although the same fabs are working hard to meet the insatiable demand for NAND so maybe it will take longer than we'd hope for.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by realDonaldTrump on Tuesday September 19 2017, @09:02PM

    by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Tuesday September 19 2017, @09:02PM (#570358) Homepage Journal

    It’s got to be fair. Every agreement has an end. Every agreement has to be fair. Every agreement has a defraud clause. We’re being defrauded by all these countries. The only power that we have with China is massive trade. I would tax China on products coming in. I would do a tariff, yes -- and they do it to us. I am a free trader but it’s got to be reasonably fair. I would do a tax. and the tax, let me tell you what the tax should be. The tax should be 45%. 🇺🇸

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