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The RAM pricing chronicle

If memory serves me right…

If you guys haven’t noticed yet, then we’ve started pushing out a lot of videos on our Facebook page. It’s just Aditya who’s doing the videos right now, and the others have decided to finally jump onto the video bandwagon. No, you’ll not be seeing me in front of a camera, yet. But we’ve got some really neat ideas that need to be made into videos. My current PC is pretty decent and I don’t need anything more than what I have. However, the others in the team sure could do with slightly spruced up rigs. If you’ve ever tried your hands at editing videos then you’ll soon realise that your workflow is very dependent on the amount of RAM your PC has.

Video editing has required most of us to slightly spruce up our rigs

With about 6 more machines needing roughly twice their current memory capacities, we’re looking at getting about 128 GB of RAM in total. Some of the machines will have a slightly greater amount of RAM but most will be capped at 16 GB. Let’s keep the details for later. What we want is RAM and a lot of it. So when we started checking RAM prices on the Internet, we were in for a nasty shock. RAM prices were through the roof. Stuff that used to cost Rs. 3.5K was now priced at Rs. 7.2-7.8K. That’s more than a 100% hike. Sure, we’ve heard about the incidents at the OEM factories wherein they’ve ended up losing a lot of silicon wafers but such incidents have occurred in the past and RAM prices had recovered pretty quickly. What’s happening in the market reeks of artificial scarcity.

However, upon speaking with a couple of folks into the whole memory business, it seems that I was a bit off. Yes, the factory mishaps did dent DRAM supplies but there was another major factor that’s been driving prices through the roof and it doesn’t seem like they’ll recover anytime soon. The culprit is the mobile market.

Meet the culprits – the smartphone market

Smartphone manufacturers have been hoarding DRAM as if it were the end of days and DRAM was key to their survival. Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron are still growing their facilities and increasing output, however, their growth is nowhere enough to meet the voracious appetite of the smartphone manufacturers. And even the smartphone manufacturers are feeling the pinch of the rising prices. So much that they’ve had to use different memory types within the same smartphone model. Last year, Huawei had mentioned the use of UFS 2.1 in their Mate 9. However, consumers opening up the unit were surprised to find certain SKUs sporting UFS 2.0 along with LPDDR3 or LPDDR4. Honestly, I don’t know if Huawei tried to pull one over the consumer’s eyes because they wanted to feed their bottom line or if they simply had no other option.

What’s clear is that everyone’s feeling the pinch of the escalating prices. Which brings this story back to our case. We still need a lot of memory and there’s no respite in sight. So our plans of making a RAMDISK and using that as the scratch disk for our editing software has been put on hold. A RAMDISK is a luxury at the moment. So we’ve decided to experiment with value RAM. Every brand under the sun has a value segment comprised of the cheapest SKUs they have to offer. The price difference between a high-end variant clocked at 3200 MHz is quite significant compared to value RAM that sits at 2400 MHz. More than the speed, the pricing varies because of the quality of components used. Not all silicon wafers come out of the oven looking perfect. The good ones are used to build DRAM for the higher-end SKUs while the not so perfect sections of the wafer end up in these value RAM SKUs.

Fingers crossed!

So yeah, we’ve bitten the bullet and got ourselves tonnes of cheap RAM. Hopefully, these SKUs will last us for a long time. Or at least till they’ve justified the ridiculous amount of money we had to put down. What’s your take on the RAM pricing issue? Have you put off your PC upgrade because of the spike or are you unfazed by the multiplicative rise? Let me know at agent001@digit.in

Agent 001

Agent 001