Report: Impact of Taiwanese Earthquake on DRAM Output to be Negligible in Q2

Following the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck Taiwan on April 3, 2024, there was immediate concern over what impact this could have on chip production within the country. Even for a well-prepared country like Taiwan, the tremor was the strongest quake to hit the region in 25 years, making it no small matter. But, according to research compiled by TrendForce, the impact on the production of DRAM will not be significant. The market tracking company believes that Taiwanese DRAM industry has remained largely unaffected, primarily due to their robust earthquake preparedness measures.

There are four memory makers in Taiwan: Micron, the sole member of the “big three” memory manufacturers on the island, runs two fabs. Meanwhile among the smaller players is Nanya (which has one fab), Winbond (which makes specialty memory at one fab), and PSMC (which produces specialty memory at one plant). The study found that these DRAM producers quickly resumed full operations, but had to throw away some wafers. The earthquake is estimated to have a minor effect on Q2 DRAM production, with a negligible 1% impact, TrendForce claims

In fact, as Micron is ramping up production of DRAM on its 1alpha and 1beta nm process technologies, it increases bit production of memory, which will positively affect supply of commodity DRAM in Q2 2025.

Following the earthquake, there was a temporary halt in quotations for both the contract and spot DRAM markets. However, the spot market quotations have already largely resumed, while contract prices have not fully restarted. Notably, Micron and Samsung ceased issuing quotes for mobile DRAM immediately after the earthquake, with no updates provided as of April 8th. In contrast, SK hynix resumed quotations for smartphone customers on the day of the earthquake and proposed more moderate price adjustments for Q2 mobile DRAM.

TrendForce anticipates a seasonal contract price increase for Q2 mobile DRAM of between 3% and 8%. This moderate increase is partly due to SK hynix’s more restrained pricing strategy, which is likely to influence overall pricing strategies across the industry. The earthquake’s impact on server DRAM primarily affected Micron’s advanced fabrication nodes, potentially leading to a rise in final sale prices for Micron’s server DRAM, according to TrendForce. However, the exact direction of future prices remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, DRAM fabs outside of Taiwan have none been directly affected by the quake. This includes Micron’s HBM production line in Hiroshima, Japan, and Samsung’s and SK hynix’s HBM lines in South Korea, all of which are apparently operating with business as usual.

In general, the DRAM industry has shown resilience in the face of the earthquake, with minimal disruptions and a quick recovery. The abundant inventory levels for DDR4 and DDR5, coupled with weak demand, suggest that any slight price elevations caused by the earthquake are expected to normalize quickly. The only potential outlier here is DDR3, which is nearing the end of its commercial lifetime and production is already decreasing.

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