Tag: mobile dram

Mobile DRAM prices flatten

Samsung DRAMAttempts by manufacturers to put up their prices on mobile DRAM appear to have stalled.

In the first quarter, said memory watcher DRAMeXchange, mobile DRAM revenues totalled $3.576 billion which is actually a small decline compared to the same quarter last year.

But despite that, mobile DRAM now accounts for 29.8 percent of total shipments worldwide and that figure will continue to increase.

Average selling prices for mobile DRAM are stable, while shipments grew as Samsung ramped up volumes by producing chips at 23 nanometres.

DRAMeXchange anticipates that prices will stay stable for the whole of the first half of this year. While next generation iPhones will use 2GB of mobile memory, prices will fall.

While the outlook is rosy for mobile DRAM, PC memory prices have fallen.

The major memory manufacturers are Samsung, SK Hynix and US firm Micron. Other much smaller players are Taiwanese companies Nanya and Winbond with the latter having a global market share of only one percent.

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. 

Mobile DRAM worth over $2 billion in Q1

Smartphones, tablets and gaming gizmos are fuelling sales of DRAM for mobile devices, making that sector worth over $2 billion in the first quarter of this year.

That’s according to IHS, a US based market research company, which said that sales amounted to $2.07 billion – up 10 percent for the same quarter in 2010.

According to Ryan Chien, researcher for memory and storage at IHS, shipments and densities of mobile DRAM will continue to grow – as much as a factor of six between 2010 and 2015 for smartphones.

Densities will increase eightfold for handsets. But the position is even better for the manufacturers for the tablet market. Chien expects that DRAM densities for these devices will grow 14-fold in the same period.

The demand for mobile DRAM means new entrants into the vendor yard – Winbond and ProMOS are increasing production. But they will be hard pressed to topple Samsung, Hynix and Elpida – those three account for nearly 95 percent of mobile DRAM shipments. Samsung, Elpida and Hynix are followed by US company Micron, Winbond and ProMOS.

Revenues for mobile DRAM will be close to $7 billion for the calendar year 2011, while conventional DRAM expected to fall by 10 percent as companies are not in any hurry to increase densities in PCs.

mobile dram Q1 2011

Samsung intros 1Gb mobile DRAM with wide I/O

Samsung has announced its 1 gigabit mobile DRAM with a wide I/O interface. It uses 50nm process technology and you can expect it inside smartphones and tablets soon ish.

Samsung reckons its 1Gb model can transmit data at 12.8 GB per second, compared to the bandwidth of mobile DDR DRAM which it quotes as 1.6GB/s. That’s eightfold, Samsung boasts. It says power consumption has been reduced by approximately 87 percent, while the bandwidth is also four times that of LPDDR2 DRAM, which sits at about 3.2GB/s.

It uses 512 pins for data input and output, up from the previous generation of mobile DRAMs which Samsung says uses a maximum of 32 pins – if you include the pinds that regulate power supply and send commands, one Samsung I/O DRAM can accommodate about 1,200 pins.

The Korean powerhouse wants to provide 20nm-class 4Gb wide I/O mobile DRAM as soon as 2013. 

One of Samsung’s many vice presidents, Byungse So, said in a statement that the announcement adds nicely to its portfolio. “Following the development of 4Gb LPDDR2 DRAM last year, our new mobile DRAM with a wide I/O interface represents a significant contribution to the advancement of high-performance mobile products.”

UMC thinks Elpida will edge into 'Big Three' DRAM makers

Elpida may become the  world’s second largest DRAM manufacturer as firms struggle in the face of an unstable market. According to UMC.

John Hsuan, honorary vice-chairman at UMC, thinks that Elpida’s successful migration to the 40nm process for manufacturing, as well as a strong show with regards to the mobile memory market, means it is well placed to challenge Samsung, considered the overall leader.

This is despite Elpida announcing substantial losses recently thanks to low PC shipments leading to a drop in DRAM demand.

However if Elpida is able to capitalise on the booming mobile memory market, which saw 71 percent growth despite a downturn in the memory segment, then this should provide a boost. 

Hsuan believes that only three DRAM producers are likely to be able to successfully come through a tough time in the DRAM market, and Elpida the only one outside of South Korea to do so, with Hynix and Samsung likely to stay safe.

While it is noted that Micron Technology is seen as a competitor, the move to 40nm process tech has enabled Elpida to see off any challenge.

Elpida, which recently took over Powerchip, is thought to be the only manufacturer that is able to rival Samsung in terms of mobile RAM production, with the acquisition of Spansion’s Flash technology further boosting the firm.

However it is considered unlikely that, with Samsung’s financial muscle and technological capability the 40 percent share of the DRAM market the Korean firm holds, second place seems about all that can be hoped for at this point.

According to Hsuan, Taiwan’s DRAM chipmakers could become contract suppliers to the three firms that he believes will emerge on top – as there is a shortage in patented technologies held by Taiwanese companies.

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.