DRAM industry sees Q3 growth, but limited Q4 demand recovery

Samsung DRAMTrendForce’s recent analysis of the DRAM industry for the third quarter of 2023 indicates a substantial leap in total revenues, reaching US$13.48 billion — an impressive 18 percent quarter-on-quarter surge.

This surge can be attributed to a gradual revival in demand, prompting buyers to intensify their procurement activities. However, projections for the fourth quarter suggest that while suppliers are inclined towards price hikes, the recovery in demand might not match previous peak seasons.

Despite a demand for stockpiling, the procurement outlook for the server sector remains cautious due to high inventory levels. Consequently, this hints at limited growth in DRAM industry shipments for Q4.

Among the major manufacturers, three witnessed revenue growth in Q3. Samsung experienced a 15.9 percent revenue increase, reaching US$5.25 billion, driven by stable demand for high-capacity products, notably advanced by AI advancements and the rollout of its 1alpha nm DDR5.

SK Hynix showcased substantial growth, marking a 34.4 percent increase to about US$4.626 billion, significantly narrowing its market share gap with Samsung to less than 5 percent. Micron’s revenue rose by approximately 4.2 percent to US$3.075 billion, supported by an upswing in demand and shipment volumes, despite a slight drop in Average Selling Price (ASP).

In response to market dynamics, Samsung expanded its production cuts in Q3, specifically targeting DDR4 products with high inventory levels. The company anticipates intensifying these cutbacks to 30 percent in Q4, thereby reducing overall wafer inputs. However, with an eye on demand recovery in the latter half of 2024, Samsung plans to ramp up wafer inputs from 2Q24 onward.

SK Hynix witnessed growth in High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) and DDR5 shipments and expects a slight uptick in capacity and wafer inputs by year-end, aligning with the growing market penetration of DDR5. Micron, having earlier reduced production, maintains healthy inventory levels and has already begun increasing wafer inputs in 4Q23, particularly focusing on the 1beta nm advanced process. The company forecasts a modest rise in wafer input volume for 2024, emphasizing the transition to more advanced manufacturing processes.

In Taiwan, Nanya’s shipments benefited from PC client orders and spot market momentum, growing by 17–19 percent. However, subdued demand for mainstream DDR3 and DDR4 products, coupled with declining prices, limited revenue growth to a modest US$244 million.

Winbond pursued an aggressive pricing strategy to expand its DDR3 business and absorb new capacity from its KH factory, leading to shipment growth and boosting Q3 revenue to US$112 million.

PSMC recorded a slight increase in demand-driven by rising spot prices, resulting in a 4.4 percent quarterly increase in DRAM revenue, excluding DRAM foundry services. However, including revenue from DRAM foundry services, there was a 5.5 percent decrease this quarter.