For the past seven months or so, RAM and SSDs have been two of the only PC components you could buy at prices that wouldn’t make you cry. CPUs and GPUs have both been in short supply and offered at greatly elevated prices, particularly GPUs. Storage and memory upgrades, in contrast, have been fairly affordable.
Trendforce is now predicting a price increase of 1.25x or more. The company writes that DRAM manufacturers and OEMs are now negotiating prices for upcoming quarters: “Although these negotiations have yet to be finalized, the ASP of mainstream DDR4 1G*8 2666Mbps modules has already increased by nearly 25% QoQ as of now, according to data on ongoing transactions.”
Prices for PC DRAM are predicted to rise by up to 1.28x, due to notebook demand. PC OEMs are said to be aggressively expanding their production targets, with an 8 percent rise in machine production for this quarter. Worldwide demand for notebooks and desktops is expected to remain high through the end of the year due to the limited number of people who are vaccinated globally. The need for work-from-home conditions is expected to persist through the end of the year, with ongoing higher PC demand as a result. Server DRAM will also increase in price due to increased investment cycles and the need to invest in cloud backends.
Trendforce notes that the actual size of the growth will depend on final contract negotiations and how much demand there is in absolute terms. Reports suggest PC manufacturers may only be able to fill 50 percent of laptop orders in Q2, due to the rising difficulty of sourcing hard-to-find components. What these reports lack, however, is any sense of cohesion.
For example: Companies may not be able to fulfill 30-50 percent of laptop orders (as reported recently by DigiTimes), but actual PC production is only expected to rise by 8 percent (as predicted by Trendforce). One potential explanation is that the industry may be bracing for more shortages overall. There are reports that Intel is bracing for its own substrate shortages, as recently reported by WCCFtech. Rocket Lake supply might be constrained in Q2 as a result. There’s no word on how this could impact Tiger Lake shipments. If AMD and Intel are both supply-constrained headed into Q2, it might explain why notebook manufacturers are afraid of not hitting their manufacturing targets.
Predictions for a recovery and resumption of normal shipments and product volumes are pushing back into 2022, now. Ryzen CPU availability might be slightly better now than it was earlier in the year, and AMD is supposed to be increasing supply of the CPUs by up to 20 percent. Rocket Lake supplies are good right now, but will reportedly tighten up later in the quarter. AMD has previously said it expects CPU and GPU supply to improve in the back half of the year, but we don’t know if that’ll produce a visible improvement in the retail channel. If you intend to buy RAM, we recommend pulling the trigger sooner on that, rather than later.
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