SAN FRANCISCO—Global DRAM sales reached a record high of $14.1 billion in the first quarter, driven by a roughly 30 percent increase in the average contract price of PC DRAM modules, according to memory chip price tracking firm DRAMeXchange.
First quarter DRAM revenue was up by more than 13 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2016, the firm said.
According to DRAMeXchange, most PC OEMs negotiated first quarter DRAM contracts at the end of 2016, when DRAM was in tight supply. Not only did these price increases affect PC DRAM, but they also spilled over into the server and mobile DRAM markets, increasing the price of mobile DRAM products by nearly 10 percent on average, according to the firm.
Global revenue for mobile DRAM fell by just 1.7 percent in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2016, DRAMeXchange said. Sales of mobile DRAM typically fall off precipitously between the fourth quarter and the first quarter, coming off the holiday season.
Tight supply in the DRAM market should continue for a while longer. Avril Wu, research director at DRAMeXchange, said in a press statement that the firm expects additional DRAM manufacturing capacity to be available in the second half of this year or later to meet the demand.
"As for this second quarter, the mobile DRAM market has cooled down temporarily, but the server DRAM market is still quite hot," Wu said. She added that DRAMeXchange expects average DRAM prices to increase by more than 10 percent in the second quarter.
The three largest DRAM producers — Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and SK hynix Inc. of South Korea and Micron Technology Inc. of the U.S. — all enjoyed significant increases in operating margins during the first quarter and will continue to do so in the second quarter, according to DRAMeXchange.
—Dylan McGrath is the editor-in-chief of EE Times.