ILSAN-SEOGU, South KoreaOEMs could be scrambling for their supply of DRAMs for some time: Shortages of DDR-based SDRAMs could last until the first quarter of next year, warned South Korean memory makers here.
For some time, there has been a shortage of select DRAMs, especially next-generation DDR3 parts, due to market demand for high-end notebooks, servers and other products. Shortages of DDR3 have prompted a buying spree for older DDR2 parts, causing shortages for those devices.
Elpida Memory Inc., Hynix Semiconductor Inc., Micron Technology Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. are separately ramping up their production of DDR3 devices, but some vendors do not have the fab capacity. For years, DRAM capital spending has lagged, due in part to losses and the ongoing memory downturn.
Hynix and Samsung dominate the DDR3 market, with each vendor currently holding a 45 percent share of the market, according to data provided by Hynix.
Now, business is looking up. Citing the DRAM and other businesses, Samsung recently said it expects to report third quarter sales of approximately 36 trillion won ($30.8 billion) and an operating profit of roughly 4.1 trillion won ($3.5 billion). For the second quarter of this year, Samsung (Seoul) reported a profit of 2.52 trillion won ($2.2 billion) on sales of 32.51 trillion won ($27.9 billion).
"The PC market is better than we thought, but we're cautious," said Keich Lee, manager of memory marketing for Samsung. "We're at a sensitive point" in terms of market demand.
Lee confirmed reports that there are shortages of DDR3. Shortages of "DDR2 are more severe than DDR3,'" Lee said, at the 11th International Semiconductor 2009 (i-Sedex) event here. "DDR2 prices (surpassed) DDR3 at the end of September."
Last week, average spot pricing across all DRAM densities and technologies increased by 2.8 percent to $2.13, according to market research firm Gartner Inc. ''This is a 52-week high, on a 1-Gbit equivalent basis. Current pricing has moved up 168.8 percent from the low prices of 52 weeks ago," according to a Gartner report.