The price of double-data-rate SDRAMs is almost double that of comparable density single data rate chips, as OEMs and suppliers gear up for Intel Corp.'s touted January launch of its 845D DDR chipset.
Memory vendors and analysts don't expect the premium to remain at such high levels in the first quarter as supplies increase in the market. However, a few ponder whether DDR could remain in short supply if Intel's 845D chipset launch is even more successful than anticipated.
DRAMexchange.com lists a 128-megabit 16Mx8 PC133 SDRAM at an average $2, just under half the ASP of the comparable density DDR chip at $3.46. Converge lists the same single-data-rate SDRAM at $1.75 to $1.85, also not quite half the $3 price for comparable density DDR chip.
Price premiums also prevail for the 256-Mbit PC133, which Converge lists in the spot market at $4, with the DDR version going for $7.
Mike Sadler, vice president of sales for Micron Technology, told financial analysts on a recent conference call that the Intel 845D chipset launch had created more demand for DDR than originally expected among motherboard makers and OEMs gearing up for the debut.
"After this ramp-up, we may see the DDR price premium narrowing. Eventually they should come down to near-parity with single-data-rate SDRAMs, since manufacturing costs are virtually the same," he said.
Tom Quinn, vice president of marketing for Samsung Semiconductors Inc., San Jose, Calif., said the current DDR price premium "created the interesting situation where (comparable density) DDR and Direct Rambus are nearly the same price in the supply channel."
He also suspected the DDR price premium will narrow "from the bottom up" as producers shift more production into double-data-rate away from single data rate, causing SDRAM prices to rise.
If prices rise, will this reverse last year's trend of OEMs sharply increasing the memory content of PCs? Micron's Sadler thinks not. "We have never seen OEMs reduce the memory content of machines in the mainstream market. Once a larger memory size has been set, it tends to remain in the market, even if memory prices go up," he said.