Is DRAM Price Relief On the Horizon?

I certainly hope so. The last thing that anyone needs is a DRAM shortage, and it is the partial shorting of the channel that has caused a price rise over the past 6 months. Of course, the big buyers purchased their supplies long ago, but the little buyers are now paying the price for the fact that the DRAM manufacturers were purposely trying to pump up the prices, and also the Windows 7 upgrade cycle was beginning to turn on.

Microsoft has no problems with the memory being higher priced, to a point, but the judging of the market is a very fine thing, and too little memory in the channels will slow Windows 7 adoption, too much will cause the memory makers to back off, as the prices drop precipitously.

Fortunately Elpida is ready to start taking up some of the slack, with low power DDR3 coming on in quantity in the third quarter –


Trying to catch up to Samsung, which is already mass producing such chips, Elpida Memory has now wrapped up work on its own 4Gb DDR3 SDRAMs designed for the 40nm process.

Elpida’s 4Gb chips work at up to 1600 MHz and operate at 1.35V or 1.5V, consume 30% less power than two 2Gb DRAMs also manufactured on 40nm, and can be used to make 32GB memory modules for servers, and 8GB DIMMs for desktops and mobile PCs.

Elpida will begin sampling the 40nm 4Gb DRAMs later this quarter and will begin full-scale production in Q3.

Because of the speed being developed in quantity, the high end of the DDR3 market, where the really high speed, low latency RAM comes from, will remain where it is. But the more general, appliance-like builds of computers from smaller builders will be in good shape, as long as the channel doesn’t run dry before Elpida comes in with some quantity.

No one expects a major price drop, as was shown about 4 years ago, and every manufacturer is working to guard against that scenario happening again. On the other hand, a gentle droop in pricing from where it currently is would benefit everyone, and that is what we, as consumers, must hope for.


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