Semiconductor market news(Mar. 25 to Mar. 31)丨The past week, DRAM and NAND Flash Spot Prices Drop; Notebook shipment update, February 2024; DRAM price increase expected to drop to 3% to 8% in second quarter

01. The past week, DRAM and NAND Flash Spot Prices Drop

DRAM spot prices continue to fall as channel demand has been tepid. Furthermore, the decline has become sharper recently for both DDR4 and DDR5 products. At the same time, spot traders who previously accumulated stockpiles are now eager to sell because the overall demand outlook is not particularly positive. Hence, spot prices, on the whole, are weakening. The average spot price of mainstream chips (i.e., DDR4 1Gx8 2666MT/s) fell by 0.77% from US$1.936 last week to US$1.921 this week.

Continuing from last week, spot prices are lingering at an amplified degree of declination under the persistently sluggish demand from the channel market, though at a slightly lighter sales pressure compared to that of DRAM. For 512Gb wafers, concluded prices are sitting on about US$3.9, which are lower than contract prices, and indicate the yet-to-be recovered level of consumer demand. 512Gb TLC wafer spots have dropped by 1.98% this week, arriving at US$3.764.

02. Japanese Semiconductor Equipment Sales Smashed the JPY 300 Billion Threshold in February

On March 25, the Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan (SEAJ) disclosed its latest statistics.

The data revealed that in February 2024, the sales of Japanese semiconductor equipment (3-month moving average, including exports) reached JPY 317.418 billion, representing a growth of 7.8% compared to the same month last year. This also marked a second back-to-back month of growth, achieving the largest increase in 10 months (9.8% growth since April 2023).

Moreover, monthly sales crossed the 300 billion-yen threshold for the fourth consecutive month, hitting a new high over the 10 months (JPY 336.162 billion since April 2023).

Compared to the previous month, Japanese semiconductor equipment sales rose by 0.8%, marking the fourth consecutive month of monthly growth. In the cumulative period from January to February 2024, its sales stood at JPY 6,322.93 billion (+6.4% YoY), setting a new record high in the same period of previous years.

Semiconductor equipment manufacturers from Japan include Tokyo Electron (TEL), Advantest, Screen, Kokusai Electric, Hitachi High-Tech, Nikon, and Canon, etc.

03. DRAM price increase expected to drop to 3% to 8% in second quarter

According to the latest report from TrendForce, due to the poor overall demand outlook for DRAM this year and the substantial price increases in previous months, TrendForce expects the DRAM contract price increase in the second quarter to drop to 3% to 8% on a quarter-on-quarter basis.

The report shows that PC DRAM buyers will increase DDR5 purchases in the second quarter. As this type of memory chips are converted to advanced processes, cost optimization will significantly improve manufacturers' profits. PC DRAM contract prices are expected to increase by 3% to 8% month-on-month in the second quarter, but the increase in DDR5 will moderate slightly.

In terms of server DRAM, buyers continue to increase DDR5 inventory, but the actual penetration rate is still lower than expected in the first quarter of this year, which means that DDR5 demand has not yet fully recovered. TrendForce predicts that DDR4 contract prices will rise higher than DDR5 in the second quarter, with the price difference gradually narrowing.

In terms of mobile device DRAM, manufacturers’ mobile DRAM contract price targets for the second quarter are to increase by 10% to 15% or more quarter-on-quarter. However, TrendForce believes that due to the impact of flat demand, mobile DRAM contract prices are expected to increase by 3% to 8% in the second quarter.

04. Samsung raises HBM shipping volume target

Samsung Electronics announced an increase in its 2024 HBM shipping volume and disclosed more details about the development of its HBM4 product, showing that its specifications are higher than industry standards.

According to the HMB technology blueprint released by the company, HBM shipments in 2026 are forecast to be 13.8 times higher than in 2023, and HBM shipments in 2028 are 23.1 times higher than in 2023. Samsung’s latest HBM3E 12H DRAM chip has begun shipping samples and will be ready for mass production in the first half of the year.

05. Sony opens new CMOS image sensor fab in Thailand

Sony inaugurated an expanded facility in central Thailand, which will make automotive CMOS image sensors (CIS), OLED display components for digital cameras, and laser diodes for high-capacity hard disks.

06. Notebook shipment update, February 2024

DIGITIMES Research's study on the global top-5 notebook brands, not including Apple, and the top-3 ODMs' shipments in February 2024 (shipment volumes do not include detachable models) shows that the top-5 brands' combined shipments enjoyed a 10% on-month increase and a 13% on-year increase in the month thanks to rising shipments of brand vendors' new notebooks powered by Intel's latest CPUs, coupled with strong demand from Europe and emerging markets.

Among the top-5 notebook brands in February, Lenovo, the leading brand, performed the best with a 36% on-month increase in shipments, driven by a push to meet its annual targets.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) saw a 10% on-month increase due to volume shipments of its new models. Dell's growth was modest at 6% due to conservative attitudes among enterprise customers.

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