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Global mobile DRAM revenue grows 12%

Posted: 13 Aug 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DRAM prices? smartphone? LPDDR1?

The popularity of smartphones and tablets has boosted mobile DRAM demand growth in Q2, revealed DRAMeXchange. Although mobile DRAM contract price fell by about 10 percent QoQ in Q1, mobile memory revenue unexpectedly increased by 12.4 percent QoQ, added the research arm of TrendForce. The revenue growth can be attributed to makers allocating more capacity to mobile DRAM production as well as demand stimulation from increased low to mid-end smartphone shipments.

DRAM Revenue Figures
According to mobile DRAM revenue figures for Q2, Samsung remains on top with nearly 60 percent of the market. The Korean memory makers' combined revenue accounts for 77.5 percent of the global mobile DRAM market, 1.1 percent less than Q1. Third-place manufacturer Elpida's market share fell by a slight 0.8 percent to 13.9 percent. Benefitting from low to mid-end smartphone growth, Micron benefited from low to mid-end smartphone growth and its market share increased by 6.7 percent, putting them in fourth place. As for Taiwan DRAM makers, Winbond has been producing mobile DRAM for some time, and now Nanya has entered the mobile memory sector as well. Unfortunately, due to the bleak economic outlook for H2, manufacturers are becoming more conservative with regard to production and development plans, preparing instead for the worst DRAM winter since 2009.

Figure 1: 2Q12 Revenue Ranking for Mobile DRAM Manufacturers
Source: DRAMeXchange Aug, 2012

Figure 2: Mobile DRAM Market Share by Region
Source: DRAMeXchange Aug, 2012.

Samsung's Q2 mobile DRAM market share is 59.6 percent, nearly the same as the previous quarter's figure. The increase of mobile DRAM shipments allowed the maker's total DRAM revenue to increase by 12.2 percent QoQ. From the market perspective, smartphone shipments recovered in Q2 and Samsung's Galaxy series is the global leader in smartphone shipments, providing a satisfactory outlet for the Korean maker's sizable mobile DRAM capacity. Currently, Samsung's mobile DRAM product lines, including LPDDR1 products, are on the 35nm process. As the maker continues to increase yield rates and diversify its product mix to improve profitability, Samsung is expected to remain at the top of the mobile DRAM market.

SK Hynix's mobile DRAM revenue increased by 6.4 percent QoQ to $350 million; accounting for 20.5 percent of its total memory revenue. The maker's market share was 17.9 percent, a one percent QoQ decrease, but its operating margin was positive for the first time in several quarters, indication that the maker is experiencing improved profitability. However, mobile DRAM average selling price (ASP) falls by more than 10 percent per quarter, which presents a difficult challenge to cost structure.

SK Hynix's 38nm yield rate increase has boosted profits as well as low to mid-end smartphone demand, which in turn stimulates multichip packaging (MCP) product shipments. Together, Samsung and SK Hynix have more than 70 percent of the mobile DRAM market.

Elpida's 2Q mobile DRAM market share was 13.9 percent, a 6.4 percent QoQ increase, putting the maker in third place in the global DRAM market. As Elpida has advanced mobile DRAM process technology, the maker should be able to bounce back from its financial troubles. The merger with Micron is mostly settled, and Elpida has received new orders from clients, among which Apple has increased mobile DRAM orders for the iPhone by nearly 50 percent, which will certainly help the Japanese supplier get back on its feet. Elpida's prior lack of NAND flash products will be remedied through its partnership with Micron, and production of MCP products will enable the maker to break into a previously untapped market.

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