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Random access memory began to rise in price at an accelerated pace
sixteen.03.2021 [13:18],
Gennady Detinich

Just a month ago, analysts were cautiously assessing trends for a possible increase in prices for RAM. But today it is becoming clear that it is impossible to keep the prices for memory. The situation is out of control and threatens with a sharp rise in the price of DRAM chips in absolutely all product categories.

TrendForce Analysts Announce DRAM Market Entry into New Price Cycle. On average, in the first quarter of 2021, the memory price will rise by 3–8%, but already in the second quarter, memory will become more expensive by another 13–18%. We are talking about contract prices for memory. This means that prices in purchases for forward transactions will rise even more, as well as the price for memory in finished goods will rise.

In the PC memory market, the weather will be made by laptops. High demand for mobile systems remains against the backdrop of the «quarantine economy», as analysts began to call remote work and study during the COVID-19 pandemic. Notebook manufacturers have relatively low memory inventories, so fears of shortages and price increases will force DRAM purchases to increase and drive contract prices even further. Thus, in the second quarter, the increase in prices for RAM for PCs will be 13-18%, although in the first quarter this figure was at the level of 3-8%.

Prices for server memory in the second quarter of this year will grow stronger — up to 20%. The second quarter is usually characterized by activity in the server market. Memory manufacturers, interestingly, are in no hurry to increase the production of memory in general and server memory in particular, giving part of the capacity for the production of image sensors and other semiconductor components that have become scarce. Thus, for example, the production capacity for the production of DRAM chips in the second quarter will be far from the indicators of the release of the middle of last year.

The rise in prices for memory for smartphones and other mobile applications will be the smallest — up to 15%. In general, this market may not have been hype, but some smartphone manufacturers decided to play it safe and create larger reserves of memory. This was influenced by fears that memory manufacturers will give part of the capacity for the release of more cost-effective server memory, which is not without reason.

Expected increase in RAM prices in the first and second quarters of 2021. Image source: TrendForce

The graphics memory segment has its own problems, which will also accelerate the growth of prices for this category of products. Firstly, there was a bias towards the production of GDDR6 memory, as more cost-effective. Massive GDDR5 memory runs the risk of falling into the scarce category. Secondly, cryptocurrency miners became active again, and in the new season even laptops were used. Thus, graphics memory is in great demand in all three main product categories: in video cards, in mining platforms and in consoles. This will accelerate the growth of prices for graphics memory in the second quarter to 10-15%. Further increases in cryptocurrency prices could significantly change these indicators.

But the most scarce memory promises to be for consumer electronics. The quarantine economy, the development of 5G networks, the migration of capacities for the needs of semiconductors in other categories and many other reasons lead to the fact that manufacturers are reducing the volume of release of DDR3 memory. All this will lead to an increase in prices for such memory in the second quarter of up to 20%.

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