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LPDDR3 mobile DRAM to gain wider market share next year

Posted: 10 Jul 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DRAMeXchange? TrendForce? Samsung? SK Hynix? Elpida?

According to DRAMeXchange, a research arm of TrendForce, once LPDDR3 price finds the market sweet spot, the specification will be able to carve out a piece of the ultrabook memory market. LPDDR3 shipments are forecast to account for 20 percent of total mobile DRAM shipments in 2H13. As Samsung, SK Hynix and Elpida begin mass producing LPDDR3, the product will take over half of the market share in 2H14, becoming the mobile memory market mainstream.

TrendForce has revealed that in 4Q10, the LPDDR1 and LPDDR2 price gap still exceeded 30 percent. Only a few high-end models were equipped with LPDDR2 while the majority of devices used LPDDR1. In 4Q11, the LPDDR and LPDDR2 price gap fell to less than 15 percent. With the declining price trend, mobile phone manufacturers became more willing to adopt LPDDR2 in their products. Smartphones equipped with LPDDR2 began hitting the market in 1Q12, at which time the price gap had dropped below five percent and memory makers had successfully reallocated capacity to LPDDR2 production. Economies of scale enabled mobile phone manufacturers to make a full transition to LPDDR2, while controller chip developers provided more products with LPDDR2 platforms. Since 2Q12, LPDDR2 has replaced LPDDR1 as the smartphone market mainstream.

Once LPDDR3 breaks into the notebook market, the mobile DRAM price competition will heat up as notebooks require more memory than smartphones. Although LPDDR3 has shown impressive power-saving in ultrabooks during both sleep mode and operation, there is still a large price gap between LPDDR3 and DDR3, rendering it highly unlikely that the former will be able to replace the latter in the notebook market anytime soon.

As LPDDR3 is still in the beginning stages of production, TrendForce expects only a few high-end smartphones and notebooks with the advanced specification will be produced, and on a small scale. Without large-scale production and requiring further yield rate improvement, it will be difficult for LPDDR3 price to meet market expectation in the next quarter or two. At a conservative estimate, LPDDR3 price will not hit the market sweet spot for another three to five quarters at the earliest.

However, high demand will help lower LPDDR3 price, as the future will see ultrabooks and tablets, not just smartphones, adopting LPDDR3. As the improved specification has wider application and higher demand than LPDDR2, TrendForce expects LPDDR3 price will decline at a faster rate than LPDDR price did. Furthermore, memory makers' willingness to invest in LPDDR3 development will affect the rate of cost optimization, a key factor in the promotion of LPDDR3 to the market mainstream. At present, Samsung and SK Hynix already have product samples ready for testing, while Elpida will ramp up LPDDR3 production after the company's restructuring.

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