DRAM Prices Could Be In For A Modest Increase As Intel Rocket Lake-S Is Go For Launch
We should count our lucky stars that PC memory pricing is not through the roof, like it was at one point—these days you can find name-brand 16GB DDR4-3200 kits selling for less than $80. That said, general pricing could be going up, right as Intel's new Rocket Lake-S lineup lifts off. Exactly how much remains to be seen.
According to a TrendForce report, DRAM pricing crawled upwards by 3-8 percent in the first quarter of 2021. As we head into the second quarter, the market research firm anticipates prices going up a bit more significantly, by another 13-18 percent. To use the example above of an $80 memory kit, a price hike on the higher side could mean paying around $94 for the same RAM next quarter.
The reason for the projected price increase is "urgent demand from notebook manufacturers driven by a bullish notebook market," the report states.
"Notebook computer production on the whole will maintain a fairly healthy momentum in 2Q21. The demand for PC DRAM products therefore continues to grow as PC OEMs have been raising their annual production targets," the report notes.
It's also said that DRAM clients are carrying relatively low inventory levels, enough to last only around four or five weeks. This is resulting in increased orders, not just among PCs, but also from smartphone makers and for products like smart TVs, set-top boxes, and so forth. The three biggest memory makers are said to be using this to their advantage.
"The production capacity share of PC DRAM could experience a squeeze in the future because of robust demand in other application segments," the report adds.
Pricing could rise even higher in the server segment, to the tune of 20 percent, as both AMD and Intel offer up new EPYC and Xeon processors. On top of that, the second quarter is traditionally the peak season for server shipments, creating even more demand for DRAM. According to TrendForce, DRAM buyers within the server sector will be "more aggressive in inventory building" in the second quarter, which in turn "will sustain the uptrend in server DRAM prices."
DRAM pricing for graphics cards is expected to rise as well, though if we're being pessimistic, who really cares, since nobody can get their hands on a GPU anyway.