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Micron back on No. 3 spot in DRAM ranking

Posted: 12 May 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DRAM? Micron vendor ranking? memory market?

For the first time in more than three years, Micron Technology Inc. was back at the top three in global DRAM market share for Q1, an analyst said in a report.

Micron moved past Japan's Elpida Memory Inc. to regain the No. 3 position in the DRAM market during the first quarter, according to preliminary analysis from Nam Hyung Kim, director and chief analyst of memory ICs and storage systems at iSuppli Corp.

With Q1 DRAM sales of $484 milliondown 28 percent y-on-yMicron had 14.6 percent DRAM market share, up from 13.8 percent in Q4 08, according to the analysis. It marked the first time since the Q4 05 that Micron has been in the top three among global DRAM vendors, Kim stated.

South Korean chip vendors Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. retained the top two market positions in DRAM during Q1, according to the report. Samsung, the perennial No. 1 DRAM vendor, achieved a record high 34.3 percent market share, up from 30 percent in Q4 08, while Hynix captured 21.6 percent of the market, up from 20.8 in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to Kim.

Elpida slipped to No. 4, according to Kim, with 14.2 percent market share, down from 15.5 percent in the Q4 08.

The DRAM business has been engulfed in a brutal downturn that has forced one vendor, Qimonda AG, to file for bankruptcy while others have sought government aid. The government of Taiwan has explored various plans to merge the Taiwanese memory vendors, forming a government-backed venture, Taiwan Memory Corp. But thus far to no avail.

In the first quarter, the global DRAM market contracted 20.1 percent from the fourth quarter and 44.1 percent compared to the first quarter of 2008, according to iSuppli. Average selling price per megabyte was down 8 percent and megabyte units declined 13 percent sequentially, according to the firm. Megabyte units grew 10 percent compared to Q1 08, iSuppli said.

Market share war
Kim, however, cautioned that Micron's comeback could trigger a market share war, especially with Elpida and Hynix, adversely affecting the overall market.

"ISuppli believes that, inevitably, Micron will gain market share with additional fab access in the future," Kim wrote.

32bit MCU gains TCP/IP capabilities. CISC-based architecture supports 68000 instruction sets. (Click on image to enlarge.)

But Micron's ability to control a bigger piece of the market will depend on how quickly the Inotera fab Micron acquired can convert to Micron's stacked technology from Qimonda technology, according to Kim. Micron acquired Qimonda's stake in Inotera last November.

Nanya Technology Corp., Micron's joint venture partner, was the only other DRAM vendor to gain market share sequentially in Q1, according to Kim. Nanya's market share during Q1 rose to 5.2 percent from 4 percent in Q4 08, according to Kim.

Taiwan vendors ProMOS and Powerchip suffered substantial Q1 sales drops, Kim noted, with Powerchip's sales down 85 percent compared to Q1 08.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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