Mobile DRAM market enjoys massive growth

The market for mobile DRAM is set for record growth this year, reaching an impressive 71 percent despite an overall slowdown.

Supported by the widespread popularity for tablet and smartphone devices the 2011 DRAM shipments are expected to reach 2.9 billion gigabits (Gb), up from 1.7 billion Gb in 2010.

Growth will continue to rise over the following years, with shipments expected to increase to 20.5 billion Gb in 2015, up by a factor of 12 from just five years before.

“In contrast with the weakening performance of the overall DRAM market, growth in mobile DRAM is surging, thanks to the ongoing proliferation of smart phones on the one hand, and to an increasing public appetite for newly popular tablets like Apple Inc.’s iPad on the other,” said Mike Howard, principal analyst for DRAM and memory at IHS iSuppli.

“As these mobile devices handle more data-intensive applications, demand is expected to escalate for mobile DRAM.”

According to the HIS iSuppli figures, smartphones in 2014 will consume 36 times more of the modified DRAM, which incorporates power management features suited to mobile handsets, an indication of just how rapidly the devices have impacted on consumers.

Tablets will similarly show drastic increases in mobile DRAM usage, with a one hundred fold increase from 35 million Gb in 2010 to 3.5 billion Gb in 2014.

Although mobile DRAM firms will be happy, it’s noted that it will most likely lead to a gradual decline in margins.

Mobile DRAM has so far been produced on known demand levels, unlike normal DRAM which is considered to behave more erratically in terms of supply and demand.

As more DRAM manufacturers buy into mobile DRAM, the market will begin to exhibit similar speculative manufacturing behaviour, eventually changing the way the market is run.

Third parties like Kingston Technology could concentrate on just a few product configurations at very competitive pricing, which would lead to a shift away from elaborate customisation toward lower-priced standardised products.

Standardisation, coupled with the rise in the number of mobile DRAM makers, will lead to increased commoditisation for the industry.

Although it is not thought that this is likely to happen for two or three years, IHS iSuppli predicts that signs will begin to become apparent by the end of this year.