DRAM prices to continue to drop

Good for consumers, not so good for the manufacturers

THE PRICE OF DDR3 memory is maybe not in free fall at the moment, but prices are dropping and dropping fast according to the DRAMeXchange.  Prices are expected to continue to fall over the next two quarters. This is terrible news for the DRAM and module manufacturers, although it’s possible that we’ll see some artificial means of trying to boost the price of the DRAM chips by reducing production if the price falls by too much.

Since April this year production has risen by roughly 200 million 1Gbit equivalent units per month, although those figures don’t include October output. Although higher density modules have increased in popularity, most 2GB and 4GB DIMM’s would use mainly 2Gbit DRAM chips.  Some 4Gbit DRAM chips would also end up in high density modules. The actual production output might not have increased in the same way, but with 1,390 million 1Gbit equivalent units being manufactured in September, and over 1,200 million units since June, that’s a massive amount of DRAM being manufactured.

We’re also seeing industry wide move towards more advanced manufacturing technologies which leads to more chips per wafer.  This is helping to drive up the manufacturing quantities of DRAM chips. This is also leading to a lower overall cost per DRAM chip, although the manufacturers aren’t too happy.  They are trying balance by charging more for the more the chips manufactured using a more advanced manufacturing technology. Mostly this is seems to be done by calling the 4xnm class DRAM chips for low power or power efficient and thus being able to charge more for them compared to 5xnm class DRAM chips.

Over the past six months or so the retail price of an average 4GB DDR3 1333MHz DIMM kit has dropped by about $40 in price, while some more expensive modules have dropped even more in price. Currently a 2Gbit DDR3 DRAM chip from a major brand retails for around $2.32, although the average selling price for this week has been between $2.50 and $2.15. You need 16 of these DRAM chips to make up a 4GB module, which means that the DRAM cost alone for a 4GB module with today’s price would be about $37 and change. Add the cost of the PCB, the cost of manufacturing the DIMM, a heat spreader, shipping, the middle man and the retailer and there isn’t all that much change left on the sub $55 retail price that you can pick up a 4GB module for.

If the price development continues the way it is, 8GB is soon going to be a standard configuration for many that are getting a new computer, or are upgrading their current one. We’re by no means complaining and considering that all recent consumer PC platforms can handle 16GB of RAM, why not make sure you have enough. So ok, there aren’t that many consumer applications that will take advantage of anything beyond 8GB, but at least with a broad availability of 64-bit operating systems, this is also, in a way, the first time consumers have been able to use more than 4GB of RAM in their PC in a sensible way.S|A

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