Memory makers are demanding their downstream clients place orders for DRAM chips bundled with certain amounts of NAND flash, according to industry sources. Such bundled deals are expected to be the major point in memory price negotiations during the first half of 2018, said the sources.
Chipmakers intend to promote sales of their NAND flash chips as prices of the memory are under downward pressure, the sources indicated.
Chipmakers already improved yield rates for their 64- or 72-layer 3D NAND chips, and scaled up their output, the sources said. NAND flash prices have started to fall due to a substantial increase in supply.
Global NAND flash bit demand is expected to grow 37.7% in 2018, but the supply side will see a larger 42.9%, the sources quoted unspecified market research firm as saying.
On the contrary, DRAM prices continue to soar in 2018, the sources indicated. As chipmakers build additional DRAM production capacities only through technology transitions, the global supply of the memory will continue to grow at a slow pace during the year.
While chipmakers remain cautious about expanding their DRAM production capacities, the supply is set to fall short of demand which will see 20-25% growth as target applications and markets become broader, the sources said.
Mobile devices, cloud data centers, servers, 5G connectivity and AI will be driving the overall DRAM demand growth in 2018, according to the sources. Meanwhile, a rise in memory content for smartphones will be another demand growth driver.
Nevertheless, Samsung Electronics' and SK Hynix' plans to build new fabs could start to influence DRAM prices in 2019. Samsung reportedly plans to build a second 12-inch production line at its Pyeongtaek site in South Korea, while SK Hynix is constructing its second 12-inch fab in Wuxi, China, which is expected to come online as early as 2019.