In stark contrast to the memory segment in general, mobile DRAM sales are expected to grow by 10 percent this year to reach a record $6.56 billion, according IHS iSuppli.
Owing to the lagging sales of PC computing behind handsets and tablets, revenue growth for standard DRAM this year is anticipated to be weak, the research firm said in a press release. Standard DRAM is forecast to grow only 3 percent this year.
Mobile DRAM is capitalizing on the popularity of devices such as tablets and smartphones, which require more memory for sophisticated tasks such as games and streaming apps. High demand for mobile DRAM is helping to keep prices stable relative to the overall memory market, IHS iSuppli said. Additionally, mobile densities in wireless devices are also surging:
- Mobile DRAM density in smartphones, for instance, jumped from 2.28 gigabits (Gb) in the second quarter of 2010 to 5.85Gb in the second quarter this year. The expansion is even greater in tablets, with the mobile DRAM average density soaring fourfold during the same period from 2.00Gb to 8.33Gb.
The importance of mobile DRAM is also clear in the acquisition in July by US memory maker Micron of Elpida, according to the research firm:
- While both companies earned similar DRAM revenue in the first quarter this year — $759 million for Micron and $780 for Elpida — the mobile DRAM revenue of Elpida at $218 million was double that the $106 million for Micron.
“Such a disparity between the acquired and the buyer highlights a competitive differentiator for Elpida,” said Ryan Chien, analyst for memory and storage at IHS. “Despite its financial ruin, Elpida in the first quarter had an outsized portion — nearly 20 percent market share — of the total mobile DRAM industry revenue of $1.8 billion.” The increasing ubiquity of mobile DRAM projected for the next few years also makes the high-flying memory segment the most important factor in Micron’s $2.5 billion purchase, especially as the Boise, Idaho, outfit aims to counter the current market dominance of South Korean giants Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix Semiconductor.