SAN FRANCISCO — Tight supply conditions that have characterized the DRAM chip market throughout 2017 are expected to persist for much of 2018, with suppliers planning only limited capacity additions, according to DRAMeXchange, a research firm that tracks memory chip prices.

DRAM manufacturers will increase their output next year mainly by optimizing the process flows of their existing fabs and deploying next-generation manufacturing technologies, DRAMeXchange (Taipei) said.

DRAM suppliers are likely to adjust their product mixes to allocate more production capacity to server DRAM in 2018, DRAMeXchange said. Data center building by technology giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, coupled with the market arrival of Intel's Purley platform, are expected to increase demand for servers, according to the firm.

Typical electronics industry seasonal headwinds should ease the strain on the DRAM supply in the first quarter of 2018, but not enough to significantly impact the overall market demand or result in price declines, according to DRAMeXchange.

DRAMeXchange also said that prices for mobile DRAM chips are forecast to rise 10 to 15 percent in the fourth quarter, outgrowing the overall DRAM market, as OEMs ramp up production of smartphones. The expected increase will move mobile DRAM prices past PC DRAM prices for the first time this year, the firm said.

DRAM prices have risen consistently throughout the year amid a shortage and higher demand created by their use in a greater number of products. Market research firm IC Insights said in August that it expects DRAM revenue to grow by 55 percent this year, while Gartner last week forecast that the overall memory chip segment would be up 57 percent this year.

— Dylan McGrath is editor in chief of EE Times.

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