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2019: DRAM Cheaper... For Now

Accepted submission by takyon at 2019-07-01 00:38:00

RAM has never been cheaper, but are the historic prices here to stay? []

RAM prices are at historic lows. But it hasn't always been that way. If you upgraded your PC's memory in 2018, you might be kicking yourself right now. This writer certainly is. I upgraded from an old, faithful 16GB of 1,600MHz DDR3 to a 16GB kit of Corsair Vengeance RGB 3,000MHz DDR4. It cost me the equivalent of $200 at the time. That same kit today is just $75. What the hell happened? As of mid-2019, prices have finally gotten under control and are currently at an all-time low, making this a great time to upgrade. But is it here to stay?

[...] Ben Miles, managing director of award-winning British system builder Chillblast [], explained that "more and more memory foundries [are focusing] on flash type memory to feed the insatiable smart device and mobile phone industries. Turning a DRAM factory into a flash factory or vice versa takes many weeks, so when companies have chosen their path, its non-trivial to turn it back. When demand outstrips supply, module vendors are forced to stockpile DRAM chips and offer more money to secure stock, driving up prices."

All of this led to a huge increase in RAM prices between 2016 and 2018. Gamers Nexus put together an in-depth report [] on this at the start of 2018 and showed the near 200 percent increases in price for some modules, both DDR3 and DDR4. Looking at PCPartPicker's historic trend graphs [], we can see that early-2018 was the peak for RAM pricing, but that many speeds and kits took many months to even approach a noticeable fall in price throughout the year, only really falling hard in 2019.

[...] "We don't see the current low price of memory being the new normal," Ben Miles of Chillblast said. "As profits fall in DRAM due to abundance, factories switch focus back to flash, so we can expect peak demand in Q4 to see rising prices once again." [Corsair's public relations manager Justin Ocbina] was a little more hesitant to forecast price rises, but he did suggest that other industries were beginning to pick up the slack for the slowing smartphone market. That could lead to rising prices at some point in the near future.

There's also DDR5 to consider []. We've heard a lot about the potential capabilities of this next-generation memory for years, and that's something that Corsair will be switching its attention to in the years to come. Ocbina said that from the get-go, it is expected to dethrone DDR4 from its premium, performance spot. That gap will only widen as more kits are launched following the new standard's debut.

"Historic" low prices (that are about the same per GB [] as in 2012 or 2015)? Nothing DDR5 [] and a flood [], power outage [], or nitrogen leak [] can't fix.

See also: Micron's DRAM Update: More Capacity, Four More 10nm-Class Nodes, EUV, 64 GB DIMMs []

Previously: Expect 20-30% Cheaper NAND in Late 2018 []
Weak Demand for DRAM Could Lead to Price Decreases in 2019 []
DRAM Prices Will Continue to Decline in Q1/Q2 2019 []
Huawei Blacklisting Predicted to Cause DRAM Prices to Drop 15% []

Related: Manufacturing Memory Means Scribing Silicon in a Sea of Sensors []

Original Submission