Tight supply conditions in the DRAM market continue as a new, unexpected issue rears its head. DRAMeXchange reports Micron is having issues with its nitrogen supply, this temporarily hurt production and send contract prices upwards. DRAMeXchange expects Q2 2018 will see a 3 percent hike for PC DRAM versus the first quarter.
The average and the highest contract price of mainstream DDR4 4GB modules are still at US$33 and US$34 respectively in March, according to DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce. On the whole, contract prices of PC DRAM have seen an average increase of around 5% in 1Q18 compared with 4Q17. Nitrogen supply issue at Micron Memory Taiwan may prolong current tight supply in DRAM market, and is expected to push up contract prices of PC DRAM by 3% in 2Q18 compared with 1Q18.
DRAMeXchange points out that most PC DRAM contracts are now quarterly deals, so the upward price movement for each quarter will be concentrated in the first month of each quarter. Hence, the margin of the price increase in January reflected the margin of the entire quarter. Contract prices of PC DRAM products have remained constant in March, showing no noticeable changes from February.
In addition, Micron reported on 20 March that its subsidiary production center Micron Memory Taiwan (formerly Rexchip) experienced an interruption of nitrogen gas supply due to the malfunctioning of the gas generation system located outside the facility. Air Products and Chemicals (San Fu), the company that provided the generation system, had sent the malfunctioning equipment to the US for repair. The latest report stated that the equipment is fixed and has been sent back to facility in Taiwan. Micron Memory Taiwan is expected to return to full operation in early April.
Products that Micron Memory Taiwan makes include PC DRAM, server DRAM, LPDDR4 DRAM, and graphics DRAM. The interruption of nitrogen supply is going to have some impact on the facility’s production from late March to the first half of April. The event is also going to prolong the tight supply situation in the whole DRAM market. DRAMeXchange projects that contract prices of PC DRAM will go up again in 2Q18 by 3% from 1Q18. The graphics DRAM market, which is already facing an undersupply problem, is going to get hit the hardest by the production hiccup at Micron Memory Taiwan as well.