Korean chipmakers dominate DRAM market

Korean DRAM manufacturers have a virtual stranglehold on the industry and as of Q4 2012 they control 80 percent of the market.

DRAM sales have recovered thanks to strong demand for smartphones, growing 21.4 percent sequentially in the last quarter of 2012. Samsung and SK Hynix saw their quarterly revenue shoot up by 26.9 and 36.5 percent respectively. The two companies currently account for around 78.5 percent of the market. What’s more, they are doing even better in the mobile DRAM industry, which is set to grow further.

Elpida ranked third with 11.3 percent growth, thanks to large shipments from Apple. Due to Qualcomm’s decision to use Package on Package memory, Elpida is likely to play a significant role in the high end smartphone market. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 is out and the 800 is coming in a few months. Both chips are expected to do very well in the high end, boosting the outlook for Elpida.

Micron is focusing its efforts on storage in mid to low end smartphones, so it is losing ground in the DRAM market. It currently accounts for just 1.3 percent of the market.

Taiwanese players are trying to increase their share in the mobile DRAM market and cash in on the smartphone boom, but so far their efforts have not been very successful, Evertiq reports.

According to a recent ICS insights report, the market for tablet MPUs is forecast to grow 50 percent this year, quicker than any other semicon segment. The same goes for smartphone processors, and, of course, DRAM.

The market for DRAM chips is forecast to grow about nine percent this year, mainly thanks to higher prices. IHS iSuppli is even more upbeat and it reckons DRAM shipments will increase 30 percent this year. 

Mobile DRAM is becoming an increasingly important market segment and it currently accounts for more than a quarter of DRAM revenue. Furthermore, mobile DRAM prices tend to be more stable than those of PC DRAM, which is good news for manufacturers.