back to article God DRAM you! Prices to slide more than 40% in 2019 because chip makers can't forecast

The laws of botched supply and demand forecasting are coming home to roost for the semiconductor industry in 2019 with DRAM average sales price set to fall 42.1 per cent. The latest ladle of doom and gloom was poured onto the sector this morning by Gartner, days after IC Insights delivered its dark prognosis for chip makers …

  1. Old Used Programmer

    A silver lining...

    That's probably good news for the Raspberry Pi folks. Perhaps now the Pi3A+ will get a "mid-life kicker" to 1GB. High DRAM prices have been a concern for them.

    1. Giles C Silver badge

      Re: A silver lining...

      My next memory upgrade should be cheaper then...

      1. quxinot

        Re: A silver lining...

        Hopefully so, absolutely.

        Time to max out all the machines on my desk (well, the one that isn't already maxed on memory).

  2. katrinab Silver badge

    Can they switch production to GPUs?

    Probably not, but it would be nice if they did.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can they switch production to GPUs?

      DRAM is made on a totally different process than CPUs/GPUs. NAND is even more different. It isn't possible to switch production between the three, even though they are all "chips".

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Can they switch production to GPUs?

        That's what I suspected.

  3. Mike Shepherd

    Crystal ball

    ...average sales price set to fall 42.1 per cent

    When you see price predictions to three significant figures, you have to wonder if the author can make any rational deduction.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Crystal ball

      Manglement like precise numbers, even though saying "about 40%" is probably pushing it in terms of accuracy.

    2. PaulVD

      Re: Crystal ball

      No doubt the number was truncated for publication: if the fall had been 20% in the first 173 days of the year (to 22 June), then extrapolating to the full 365 days would have given 42.1965% for the full year. But presenting a forecast to that much precision would have been silly.

    3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Crystal ball

      The .1% was added to make them look serious.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Crystal ball

        To be honest the poster probably has a decimal point, it looks like a significant figure though...

  4. David Roberts
    Paris Hilton

    Is this the year

    When SSDs finally cost compete with spinning rust?

    Or should I just stuff the PCs with extra RAM?

    1. Kobblestown

      Re: Is this the year

      Well, I already switched to SSD for my bulk storage (4x1TB in RAID-Z1). I have bought about 8TB of SSD storage for the last year or so and the prices keep falling.

      However, you can combine the best of both worlds (on the HDD side being nothing more than the price, of course) by using ZFS with additional SSD(s) for L2ARC device(s). Once the cache has been warmed up it performs admirably. The only problem is that with ZFS on Linux the cache is empty after reboot but if you boot no more than once a month that's pretty much negligible.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Is this the year

        Or for those on Windows, you can use tiering with Storage Spaces, provided you have at least two spare SSDs (they have to be mirrored to prevent data loss apparently). You'll have to do everything through Powershell though if you're using Win10, only the server OSs have a GUI for tiered storage.

        Performance is about what you'd expect, fast when it's using the SSDs, slow when using the spinning rust. My use case is so far from the intended use that I can't really comment on how well the prioritisation works (it's supposed to keep frequently used files on the fast tier).

        You can also use the SSDs as a straight-forward cache (and in conjunction with tiering).

    2. DuncanLarge

      Re: Is this the year

      I'd rather my data be safer than on an SSD no matter what the speed.

      Once SSD start using memristors then I may be interested. Wearing out semiconductor junctions my forcing electrons through (SSD NAND) seems a step backwards for me.

      I have an SSD for booting and root partition. Temp files, large files, files that may need wiping when deleted are all on HDD's. I dont even care if the HDD is a 5200rpm or 7200rpm device. Makes little difference although the slower one would run cooler.

      1. vuzamanzi

        Re: Is this the year

        Ramdisks are back in fashion at my house.

  5. eldakka

    I don't think the impact of the looming trade war between S.Korea and Japan has been taken into account, as if it eventuates it will lead to a significant increase in DRAM prices due to the near obliteration of the S.Korean DRAM manufacturing capacity (as they source 92% of their photoresist chemicals from Japan).

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: S. Korea / Japan Trade War

      This is already having an effect on SSD and client RAM prices. Server RAM is so far unaffected but it's probably just a matter of time.

      On top of that, the Pound is currently looking poorly which could add a few percent to the price if you're buying in the UK.

    2. DuncanLarge

      > (as they source 92% of their photoresist chemicals from Japan).


      1. eldakka

        As requested:


        wccftech article:

        The photoresists are the really crucial item and the story is completely different here. South Korea will be hard-pressed to easily alt-source enough material when 92 percent comes from the Japanese. Further, these photoresist chemicals are comprised of complex molecules and quality is of utmost importance as TSMC’s half a billion dollar blunder earlier this year illustrates. TSMC used either expired or tainted photoresist and had to throw out thousands of costly wafers.

        Nikkei Asian Review article

        Combined, Japanese suppliers control about 90% of the global resist and etching gas markets. The new screening process is expected to slow down exports, potentially hurting the South Korean electronics makers that buy the materials.

  6. Christian Berger

    Those articles are typically there to steer the market

    If everyone believes that RAM-Chips are going to be cheaper tomorrow, people will stop buying RAM-Chips now and the prices will fall.

    Same goes for news about prices going up which cause a surge in demand causing higher prices.

    Industry publications are full of that.

  7. EnviableOne

    DRAM prices are cyclical

    always have been, you have the big boys who vary production to try to controll prices,

    but there are the oportunist shops that produce what ever is expensive at the time

    so once demand increases due to supply shortegaes, increasing prices more fabs come online, then there is a glut of supply so prices fall and the fabs move on to something else so supply falls again and prices rise

  8. vtcodger Silver badge

    Got the fab. Might as well run it.

    My general impression is that the very high fixed costs for semiconductor fabs (up front capital costs plus skilled labor), tend to make it cheaper to produce products and sell for whatever one can get than to not produce. That's sort of like oil wells. Once you've spent millions to drill the thing and committed to land lease payments and such, you might as well pump whatever hydrocarbons you can even if the flow is not what you hoped for. There's a 30 year old report at that tends to support that argument.

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