Good news everybody, RAM might only get somewhat more expensive this year

Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2018 - 04:43 PM |
Tagged: DRAM, ddr4, price

Last year we saw the price of RAM, especially DDR4 increase by 40%, ending the year more expensive than when it was first released.  The DRAMeXchange is predicting this will slow in the coming year, which is somewhat like, but not exactly, good news.  Prices are not going to level off nor decrease, but instead the increases will slow into single digit percentages.  This has made memory makers extraordinarily happy, as you can see from their financials below.  One can only hope that the new fabs being build come online when scheduled as this trend will continue as more devices demand more memory in even the basic models.

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"Price increases for mobile, PC and server DRAMs are starting to moderate in the first quarter of 2018 as suppliers expand and reallocate production capacity. Following an average price hike of about 40 percent in 2017, DRAM prices are forecast to increase in single-digit percentages in the first and second quarters of 2018, according to the latest analysis from DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce."

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March 1, 2018 | 05:18 PM - Posted by willmore

Wow, that reminds me of the Doug Stanhope bit that ends with "Well, how are you going to make it good for me?" "I'll stop punching you in the face when I'm done." *sigh*

March 1, 2018 | 07:03 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

Pretty much my thoughts as I was scribbling this up.

March 9, 2018 | 12:50 PM - Posted by willmore

Hey, mention my name next time you use my quotes in the podcast, will 'ya?

March 9, 2018 | 01:54 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

Great minds think alike.

March 1, 2018 | 06:13 PM - Posted by SmartPhoneDemandBeDamned (not verified)

Stop buying smartphones every year and keep the one you have for at least 3 years and that will reduce demand on DRAM and NAND. The Flagship smartphones with all the DRAM is that a wise purchase and do you really need a phone that has that performance level along with an above even a normal laptop's pricing for a phone. I have a smartphone with a replacable battery that only cost around $140 and that came in a deal that rebated me half of the phone's cost in minutes(lagacy PayGo accunt).

But the Smartphone market is to blame for the DRAM demand issues, so hit that demand right in its supply side and never go back to any yearly smartphone updates. The smartphone market has reached peak and has also begun to contract for the first time and let it contract even more over the next few years and DRAM/NAND pricing will fall to resonable levels and stay there if phones are used for 3 good years before they are replaced.

I'd rather have lower cost DRAM/NAND and a smartphone is overkill anyways if all you need it for is making and recieving phone calls. My cheapo smartphone was the only choice I had at the time to replace my Feature/FlipPhone when the Flipphone's GSM only radio signal was no longer able to make connections outside my building, and GSM has gone byby for most carriers anyways.

If you are a system builder that would rather have lower cost DRAM then you can get by for more than a few years with not updating your smartphone every year and less demand tends to lower prices.

March 2, 2018 | 03:02 AM - Posted by Anonymouse (not verified)

nanya, winbond...

Still around?

March 2, 2018 | 04:22 PM - Posted by Photonboy

I wonder how FAST the prices will drop once supply chains stabilize. It's a combination of demand (mobile etc) and the need for now fabrication plants so it's not like it will happen overnight... but what will the price of things like DDR4 memory and GPU's cost in a year, two years?

And will this cause any DELAY in the next-gen consoles due to manufacturing costs?

I doubt it though my bet on the PS5 release (blasphemy here?) is Q4 2020 with maybe 24GB GDDR6, Zen3 3GHz 6C/12T, 2x8TFlop Vega variant via interposer or similar.

(Sony and Microsoft need to secure their supply chain which could be very costly)

That's a lot of memory that the console market is going to eat up for next-gen or is that amount insignificant to the discussion of prices for memory over the next two years?

March 2, 2018 | 07:29 PM - Posted by HBM2asCacheTolargerAmountsOfLessCostlyVirtualVRAM (not verified)

No the console makers buy in volume by contract so that's a differnt scale than consumer/retail. The next generation consoles will make use of HBM2 and with Vega's HBCC/HBC(HBM2) IP the console makers could probably get by with 4GB of HBM2 and more of some more affordable slower DRAM to fill out the remainder of VRAM. Vega's HBCC will use the HBM2 as a last level cache(HBC) so the GPU is never going to have to go outside of HBM2 to directly feed its shader cores. And the GPU will get maximum bandwidth from HBM2 while any traffic to and from slower VRAM will be done by the memory controller in the background. That's why processors benifit so much from cache memory as cache memory buffers only the immediately needed data while the other memory can be staged out to slower memory or even SSD/Hard-Drive.

That Intel/Vega based EMIB/MCM SKU will be the perfect test bed for Vega's HBCC/HBC(HBM2 @ 4GB) IP to be tested so that's going to be interesting. Discrete Mobile Vega also with its only 4GB of HBM2 will be able to leverage Vega's HBCC/HBC(HBM2) IP and make use of virtual VRAM out on slower DRAM paged to and from HBM2 in the background to keep the VEGA nCUs feeding from the faster HBM2/VRAM cache.

March 2, 2018 | 08:18 PM - Posted by HBM2asCacheTolargerAmountsOfLessCostlyVirtualVRAM (not verified)

Really Vega's nCU optimally will be working from L2 GPU cache and on Vega that larger L2 cache to render back end ROPs, TMUs to shader cores and other units will work hopefully from L2 to get the even better latency/bandwidth of L2. HBM2(HBC) and the HBCC are direct clients of L2 on Vega's much improved design with all those ROPs/TMUs/Other units all sharing L2 so no memory accesses are going to be required if L2 contains the necessary data.

For Vega all of that ROP and other functional GPU hardware blocks are decoupled from each other with these units able to access(the Vega ROPs are rewired to L2 differently than in Fiji) L2 cache in such a way as to not require data that is present in L2 to be swapped out to slower memory as often. This results in greatly improved performance from not having to go out to any VRAM as the L2 cache is a level above even HBM2 for latency/speed.

So if the Next generation of Console APUs(Zen/Vega or newer Based) should have larger L2 cache sizes at 12nm, or 7nm(hopefully), and that will result in more data being in L2 ready to be loaded into the many Shader core sub-group's L1 cache and worked on. The more L2 the better to keep more of a frame's data residing inside of L2 so less accesses to slower VRAM is required.

March 2, 2018 | 08:40 PM - Posted by Tt78 (not verified)

The dram mfg have repeatedly stated they are building out capacity to meet demand, I.e. they are not going to start overproducing which’s is what is required for prices to drop. Samsung’s statement last ER was “we’re focusing on profitability and not market share”. The best consumers can hope for is that prices flatten and there’s no more increases, but that doesn’t appear to be the case for 2018. There is just too much increasing demand from other sectors - enterprise, cloud infrastructure, AI, AV, etc. while phone demand is in a bit of a rut, new phones are releasing with more memory.

March 3, 2018 | 09:09 AM - Posted by NoToSmartphonesSmartphoneCloudServices (not verified)

That's why you hold onto your smartphone for 3+ years and forget about that onec a year spartphone upgrade. You have to go after their damand curve if you want DRAM prices to fall. Make the choice, DRAM for PCs/laptops at lower costs or yearly smartphone upgerades.

It is now past peak smartphone anyways and most PC builders would rather have lower DRAM prices. Samrtphones put a higher demand on cloud services also with that industry needing more DRAM and that increases prices also. So maybe cut back on those smartphone services also. Don't purchase any Flagship smartphones and even look at purchasing used smartphones or just get a lower cost smartphone and turn off all that tracking/metrics gathering that used to push out the targeted ads because that's all cloud driven.

Consumers have the power of the wallet and that can be used when the DRAM makers conspire to reduce capacity and make prices rise. Cut back on you smartphone upgrades and any smartphone services that put direct and indirect demand on DRAM. Let them bet hit in their supply side and that will really reduce DRAM Demand.

March 3, 2018 | 02:03 PM - Posted by Max Settings (not verified)

Idiots. Their refusal to keep up with demand (and rub their hands in glee at increased profits as a consequence) is going to backfire heavily. China have gotten fed up with it and are building multiple memory fabs, the first of which is scheduled to go into production sometime later this year.

Guess who will be going out of the memory business (and probably wafer business too) in a few years time ? Yeah, the ones who don't actually understand what 'Capitalim' means. Because it certainly isn't 'Withold capital invesment on purpose to create artificial shortages and increase profits'. In fact, that's pretty much the exact *opposite* of what it means.

March 3, 2018 | 05:00 PM - Posted by TheyHavePricedThemselvesRightOutOfBusiness (not verified)

It's best to cut back on those yearly smartphone upgrades and reduce the DRAM/NAND demand that way. The DRAM makers need somthing to fear so a consumer revolt will do that. Put that fear in the smartphone market and the DRAM makers will see reduced demand and even the smartphone makers will get mad at the DRAM makers.

Apple for sure will pull that DRAM in-house if DRAM pricing causes a consumer revolt and the most strategic consumer revolt should be targeted at that smartphone demand for DRAM, and even NAND! And that will get more attention. A consumer revolt will hurt the DRAM makers in their area of greatest demand and that's smartphones for sure.

Give the smartphone industry, and by extention the DRAM industry, a good recession and they will think twice about that illegal DRAM cabal artifically limiting DRAM supply in an illegal manner.

It's Smartphone recession time! Hot them right in their revenue stream.

March 5, 2018 | 11:46 AM - Posted by Rene Tetrault (not verified)

So I guess I shouldn't bother waiting to upgrade to 16gb by the sounds of it?

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