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Tablets, smartphones propel mobile memory chip market

Posted: 16 May 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mobile memory? DRAM? NAND? NOR flash?

IHS iSuppli's Mobile & Embedded Memory Market Tracker Report forecasts that smartphones and tablets will be the catalysts for the growth of the mobile memory semiconductor space in the next few years.

IHS sees that the revenue for this sector will grow a modest but healthy 6 percent this year. The market analyst also projects the revenue for mobile memory to reach $14.9 billion this year, up from $14.1 billion in 2011. This mobile memory forecast includes the flash memory segments of NAND and NOR, the NAND subsegment of embedded multimedia card (eMMC), as well the mobile DRAM sector.

An even bigger 9 percent increase is anticipated in 2013 for mobile memory as more smartphone and tablet products requiring higher memory densities come into the marketplace, with revenue climbing to $16.2 billion, IHS said. By 2015, mobile memory revenue will peak at $17.9 billion.

Memory revenue

Worldwide mobile memory revenue forecast.
Source: IHS iSuppli Research, May 2012

"The mobile space has been the engine for overall memory growth in the last few years, and it continues to shape and define the success of suppliers participating in the memory market," said Michael Yang, senior principal analyst for memory and storage at IHS. "Given the ongoing passion of consumers for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, the outlook for mobile memory remains exceedingly optimistic."

NAND on the rise
The largest contributor to mobile memory is NAND flash given projected revenue this year of $10.5 billion, up 14 percent from $9.2 billion last year. Mobile NAND flash revenue this year will be 50 percent of the entire NAND market of $21.0 billion, demonstrating the strength of the segment.

Smartphones are the primary driver of NAND flash consumption, especially in memory-hungry Android handsets, whose operating systems require significantly more flash memory than that of their main competitor, the iPhone iOS from Apple Inc. Android handsets are projected to consume approximately 54 percent share of overall flash memory usage in the smartphone space, compared to 18 percent for the iPhone.

Of the NAND flash total this year, the eMMC segment will account for $3.7 billion, up from $2.8 billion in 2011. In particular, eMMC has become a viable mobile memory solution for high-end markets like smartphones and tablets, in which high-density storage capacity is required along with low-power consumption and a small footprint.

A second big contributor to mobile memory revenue is mobile DRAM, with tablets like the Apple iPad joining mobile phones as key segments pushing consumption of mobile DRAM. Mobile DRAM revenue this year will reach $6.6 billion, up 12 percent from $5.9 billion in 2011.

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