If you're looking to buy memory, now might be a good time: according to industry experts, the DRAM market's ongoing slide has reached its nadir.
Speaking at the company's regular analysts' day, memory specialist Micron Technology's Brian Shirley admitted that the last quarter has seen DRAM pricing drop by around 20 per cent as part of a year-long dip in global demand for PC and laptop memory.
Slowing demand for desktop memory has led to an oversupply that is driving down prices. It's easy to see: prices for mainstream products like DDR3 have never been cheaper. While that's good news for the consumer, it's not so good for the DRAM makers. After a bumper 2010, last year was a shocking disappointment which has left the majority of manufacturers facing severe losses. Only Samsung, which commands consumer electronics profits alongside semiconductor income, managed to turn a profit.
Micron's president Mark Adams is confident that the market is turning a corner, however. Speaking to Businessweek
ahead of the meeting with analysts, Adams claimed that the bottom of the curve has been reached. 'I don't think DRAM [pricing] goes down from here,
' claimed Adams. 'It's starting to feel like a stable market.
The announcement comes just a few days after the company announced that it is to target laptop and smartphone markets with a new DDR3 design featuring low standby power. Dubbed DDR3Lm and available in 2Gb and 4Gb chips, Micron's new product promises desktop-like performance from battery-friendly modules.
The news that the slump could be over is a good one for memory makers. It's also likely to be helped by increased supplies of hard drives as manufacturers restart facilities in flood-hit Thailand, believed one of the biggest contributing factors to the drop in demand for DRAM. Looking at the short-term picture, however, it's not such good news for consumers. With wholesale memory prices stabilising and likely to rise, retail prices will doubtless follow in due course.
As a result, our advice is simple: if you're looking to snag a memory upgrade for your current rig or a future build, you'd do well to buy sooner rather than later.