GRC & Minimus Servers Blog

The Incredible Shrinking Price of Memory

Posted by Christiaan Best on June 30, 2016
As covered in our previous blog reviewing server component costs, memory is often a dominant cost when buying a server. Surprisingly, memory prices are also one of the most volatile. Understanding trends are helpful to keeping your server costs low.

There are a couple of important points for those managing a data center:
  • Pricing can change fast, especially when a new line of processors chooses to support only certain standards. For example, when Intel E5-26xx v4 called out DDR4-2400 vs the DDR4-2133 for Intel E5-26xx v3.
  • While a specific model may go up or down, the overall trend in memory prices are downward. In some cases this is as much as 30% in 4 months.
  • Keeping on top of current memory is a constant battle. For example, we just updated minimusservers.com with significantly lower pricing despite being online for just over 2 months.
  • The current price for DDR4-2400 ECC memory is around $4.70 per GB.
    Note: this is Minimus pricing, pricing form other sources may be higher.
The website www.pcpartpicker.com has a great graphic for tracking general trends. The below graph shows pricing for many different brand and models of 4GB DDR4-2133 over time.


Figure 1: Price trends of 4GB DDR4-2400 from Jan 2015 to June 2016
Image credit: pcpartpicker.com



Comparing the pricing trends for two specific models of 16 GB DDR4 2133 from the same brand (Kingston), the pricing for one model is a lot more stable than the other.

Figure 2: Volatile price of the Kingston KVR21R15D4/16 (16 GB DDR4-2133)
Image credit: pcpartpicker.com



Figure 3: Relatively stable price trend of the Kingston KTH-PL421/16G (16 GB DDR4-2133)
Image credit: pcpartpicker.com



There are several conflicting factors that affect the daily price variance of memory:
  1. The cost of producing memory, like nearly all silicon based computer components, is largely from enormous upfront capital costs amortized over time. The marginal cost is actually quite low.
  2. When a new specification is released, pricing starts out high because of low demand, little competition, and low manufacturing yield. As a product matures and gains adoption, prices drop.
  3. Supply and demand does play a big role. Prices can change daily if demand is high or market conditions change.
  4. Manufacturers often increase their prices on specific models to incentivize customers to buy different models that cost less to produce. Searching against a specific configuration, you can see that memory costs will vary as much as 300% despite the same performance specification.

Check out the Minimus formula for cost savings and see a price comparison:
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Topics: Servers, components, hardware, cost, cost optimization, memory