Pricing in the DRAM market has become markedly less
volatile since the February bankruptcy filing of major
supplier Elpida Memory, deviating from long-term trends in
statistically significant ways, according to IHS iSuppli.
DRAM pricing appears to have flattened since the
announcement by Elpida that it owed billions of dollars in
debt, even though the Japanese maker had been the
third-largest DRAM supplier in terms of sales even as late
as the first quarter of 2012, IHS said.
"With things still very much up in the air on how events
will unfold, industry participants seem to be waiting for
some indication of what the resulting industry structure
will be like after an Elpida takeover is finalized," said
Dee Nguyen, memory analyst at IHS. "As a result, the
current pricing environment appears to reflect this mood
with the DRAM market eerily quiet, accompanied by visibly
less pricing volatility atypical of the industry. Clearly
then, a direct correlation exists between decreased DRAM
pricing volatility and Elpida's announcement given that the
current period of flat DRAM pricing occurred right after
the bankruptcy notice. The big question also remains
whether normal volatility will return once some clarity
emerges on the future of Elpida."
In yet another indication that the DRAM market is behaving
in uncharacteristically quiet fashion, the same trend of
decreased pricing volatility is true for 2-gigabyte DDR3 -
currently the mainstream, highest-volume DRAM chip on the
market. Just one week before the Elpida notice, pricing for
2GB DDR 3 fluctuated by a steep 17% from the earlier week.
In comparison, weekly pricing on the 12th week after the
Elpida bankruptcy showed that 2GB DDR3 changed by a
negligible 0.7%, IHS said.
What is happening is that a storm of speculation has risen
on the question of who will ultimately take ownership of
Elpida, and what implications there will be for the DRAM
industry when that happens.
While US memory maker Micron Technology has won the
exclusive right to bid for Elpida, the deal still holds
considerable interest for other parties such as SK Hynix of
South Korea and California-based Globalfoundries, IHS