SAN FRANCISCO — The booming market for DRAM chips has showed no signs of softening in the fourth quarter and is on pace to grow by a whopping 74 percent this year, the highest rate of expansion in 23 years, according to IC Insights.
Though the outlook for the immediate future appears strong, a downturn in DRAM more than likely looms in the not-too-distant future as the supply and demand pendulum swings the other way, the firm warned.
Fueled by continuing price increases amid a shortage in the market that has persisted all year, DRAM sales are projected to grow by 65 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter to reach an all-time high of $21.1 billion, according to IC Insights. DRAM sales have established a new all-time high in each quarter of 2017.
IC Insights said the booming demand this year has resulted from the combination of a constrained supply of DRAM due to a lack of fab expansion and yield difficulties at sub-20nm process nodes, combined with high demand for high-performance DRAM from gaming systems and data center-based server applications and increased average content for mobile DRAM used in smartphones.
This year will mark the fourth time since 1993 that DRAM sales have grown by more than 50 percent in a year. Between 1993 and this year, the market has grown by an average of 13 percent per year, according to IC Insights.
The history of DRAM has been a continual boom and bust cycle. IC Insights said the DRAM market will likely experience a decline — possibly a large decline — in the near future as DRAM makers expand capacity and increase output over the next two years.
— Dylan McGrath is the editor-in-chief of EE Times.