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Low demand and high production create a bargain for SSD drives

Analysts had expected 2020 to be a year of rising NAND flash prices after a supply glut in 2019. The reasoning, backed by years of repeating patterns, was that after an oversupply, vendors like SK Hynix and Micron would slow production to drive prices up.

Cue COVID-19 and the ensuing chaos.

TrendForce, a market research firm that follows the memory market, said there has been a general decline in contract prices starting last quarter due to oversupply. This oversupply situation is attributed to the accumulation of inventory caused by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Demand for PC and server SSDs has weakened as a result of decelerating demand in favor of cloud and remote access services. To avoid a potential inventory surge, major suppliers are being pressured to ramp up their supplies to the wafer market, leading to contract prices (which are fixed and negotiated) closing in on spot prices (which are changable from day to day) in the next few months. What that means is supply will be reduced to increase prices, but it will take a while to work its way through the marketplace.

TrendForce said SSDs have experienced a relatively smaller drop due to weakness in some areas, like servers and smartphones, but there is strength in other areas. In particular, Sony and Microsoft are consuming large amounts of NAND as they prepare their respective PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles for launch later this year.

“TrendForce believes that, despite the traditional peak season for electronics sales and the release of Apple’s new iPhones in 3Q20, the quarterly decline in NAND Flash ASP will likely reach 10%, due to the client end’s excess inventory under the impact of the pandemic. Furthermore, as suppliers continue making improvements in the yield rate of 128L NAND Flash, the oversupply in the NAND Flash market will intensify in 4Q20, further exacerbating the decline in NAND Flash ASP,” the company said in a report.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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