The rise was attributed to rapidly increasing contract prices for the supply of DRAMs for personal computers.
Demand for DRAM for smartphones remained strong due to Chinese brands and Apple's iPhone 7 launch but this in turn put pressure on DRAM for PCs. "Contract prices of PC DRAM modules increased by more than 30 percent sequentially on average in the fourth quarter due to insufficient market supply," said Avril Wu, research director at DRAMexchange, in a statement. "Server DRAM lagged behind PC and mobile DRAM in terms of price hike during the same period, but it is expected to catch up in the first quarter of this year."
DRAM manufacturers ranked by 4Q16 global revenue ($millions). Source: DRAMexchange.
Moves to expand DRAM manufacturing capacity are being made but will not affect the market until 2H17 so the undersupply is expected to increase in the 1H17 with rising prices.
Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron were the first, second and third ranked DRAM suppliers respectively. Samsung took 47.5 percent market share while SK Hynix had 26.7 percent and Micron around 19.4 percent.
Samsung is expected to introduce its 18nm process in 2017 to maintain a technology lead over competitors while SK Hynix focuses on improving 21nm yield. Samsung wants to get 40 percent of its DRAM production on 18nm process by the end of 2017, DRAMexchange said. SK Hynix plans to begin migration to 18nm in 2H17, DRAMexchange said. Micron has started 18nm production through its Micron Memory Taiwan subsidiary. The recently acquired Inotera may adopt 18nm production in 2H17.
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