In the midst of a global DRAM shortage, Digitimes reports that the market prices for graphics memory from Samsung and SK Hynix have increased by over 30% for August. This latest jump in memory prices is apparently due to the pair of DRAM manufacturers repurposing part of their VRAM production capacities for server and smartphone memories instead. As Digitimes’ sources report, this VRAM pricing is expected to increase further in September, impacting graphics card and gaming notebook manufacturers. Consumers have already felt the pain through skyrocketing DDR4 prices, and TrendForce/DRAMeXchange expects the upward trend of PC DRAM chips to continue to 2018.

Generally speaking, this production prioritization is not new. Late last year, the top three memory suppliers, Samsung (55% market share), SK Hynix (35% market share), and Micron (10% market share) shifted production capacity to prioritize servers and smartphones, causing the initial spike in PC DRAM prices. Overall, DRAMeXchange attributes the tight supply to lack of short term capacity expansion, as well as yield issues with new processes. The research firm had also noted that capacity expansion will be rather subdued as manufacturers try to keep commanding the higher margins of an undersupply environment.

In light of recent GDDR6 announcements by Micron and SK Hynix, these supply/price issues could have knock-on effects for both current and upcoming graphics cards. Additionally, as both Samsung and SK Hynix are the only HBM2 suppliers, HBM2-equipped cards may be adversely constrained by supply. Earlier this month, an SK Hynix executive stated that customers were willing to pay 2.5 times more for HBM2 over HBM1; this sentiment may soon be put to the test. The situation with Micron is a little less clear, as they not only have their unique GDDR5X memory, but also may not have raised VRAM prices. If they haven't, they may have an opportunity on their hands.

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Source: Digitimes

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  • Communism - Thursday, August 17, 2017 - link

    It's already over 2x the price currently, and according to the article, it will go to 3x the price fairly soon.

    Hopefully Chinese DRAM and NAND fabs catch up at some point.

    Until that happens price fixing is simply going to keep happening forever in this market segment.
  • Communism - Thursday, August 17, 2017 - link

    Here's a taste of what happens when China starts making something:

    US Steel, 700-900 USD per ton,
    Chinese Steel, ~100-150 USD per ton (pre-tariff price)
  • Communism - Thursday, August 17, 2017 - link

    That's the real reason why countries talk up "national security risks" when "transferring technology" to them.

    It never has anything to do with "national security risks" and never has been.

    It's all about the benjamins (pentiums) baby :P
  • CaedenV - Thursday, August 17, 2017 - link

    Ya, 6 years ago I built my desktop and picked up 16GB of DDR3 for ~$80, then the price hiked to up $200+ and only just got back to the $80 price last year. Now it is back to ~$90. The prices jump around all over the place, and that is normal.

    But at the same time, I think we are fast approaching a saturation point. The upgrade pace for new phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, etc is slowing down per-person, and the number of people with such devices is saturating. The big increase in demand has mostly been for phones and game consoles which have jumped from 1GB of RAM and 8GB of flash to 4-8GB of RAM and 128-256GB of flash. That is a big step up in such a short amount of time. But just as laptops stalled out in demand for extra ram and storage a few years back, phones are looking at a similar stall. So if unit sales are no longer increasing, and specs are not going up, we should see these markets stabalize in the near future(if not contract a bit), which should in-turn stabilize the pricing for these parts.
  • Communism - Thursday, August 17, 2017 - link

    Prepare to be shocked if/when Chinese DRAM and NAND fabs catch up and prices go down 90% and stay down forever.

    Price fixing is as price fixing does. No need to pretend it's not price fixing as they have done this since the 1980s at the very least.
  • Adramtech - Friday, August 18, 2017 - link

    Chinese fabs are currently just a money pit with nothing to show. Private investors are bailing and the industry is resorting to government funding. The minimum investment in a fab is $10B with no guarantee of any return even if the chips they make are good. They are very risky. China doesn't have the IP or the skilled manpower. Even Samsung is complaining about hiring skilled workers per recent news reports, and industry insiders think China won't have anything meaningful for 3-5 years, if at all.
  • Communism - Friday, August 18, 2017 - link

    All technology firms everywhere in the world are almost 100% sustained by government printed money in one way or another. This isn't unique in any way.
  • milli - Friday, August 18, 2017 - link

    SMIC already has 28nm and 14nm is nearing. I don't understand what you are talking about.
  • Adramtech - Friday, August 18, 2017 - link

    That's a foundry. Name a Chinese company that's manufacturing their own unique memory and/or storage from their own technoligical IP? China doesn't have a memory/storage business.
  • Adramtech - Friday, August 18, 2017 - link

    We are far from a saturation point. The industry is saying we are at the dawn of a new information age with the advent of AI technologies, Internet of Things, cloud computing and storage, self driving functions and in the future completely self driving automobiles, infotainment in automobiles...all of this fairly new and large demand is on top of gaming, phones, and PCs/Tablets - None of these things will use less memory or storage in the future.

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