The mobile DRAM market is steadily growing because of the raging popularity of products like smartphones and media tablets. It is set to hit nearly $6.56 billion in revenue this year alone. This is an increase of nearly 10 percent from $5.98 billion in 2011. This is against a three percent increase of regular DRAM.
"The mobile DRAM segment is achieving impressive growth as mobile operating systems, streaming apps and games require more memory to handle sophisticated tasks," said Ryan Chien, an analyst for memory & storage at IHS.
"Crucial features like multitasking, media decoding and decompression, data synchronization and background operations are all driving DRAM needs-and new phones and tablets are meeting those needs with their rise in mobile DRAM densities."
Furthermore, the average density of Mobile DRAM too has phenomenally increased. Mobile DRAM density in smartphones rose from 2.28 gigabits in Q2 2010 to 5.85 gigabits in Q2 this year. The rise in density is even greater in tablets, with mobile DRAM increasing nearly four times from 2.00 gigabits to 8.33 gigabits in the same period.
This spurt is contrasted with the performance of other memory segments like standard DRAM used in desktop and notebook computers. Because of lagging sales of PC computing, the revenue growth expected for standard DRAM is likely to be weak. While prices of memory overall is falling, prices for mobile DRAM have remained relatively higher. This is because of a number of reasons including the high demand, a small supply base and high density growth.
In July this year US memory giant Micron acquired Elipda its Japanese rival. Even though both companies earned similar first quarter DRAM revenue of $759 million for Micron and $780 for Elipida, the mobile DRAM revenue of the latter was nearly double that of Micron; $218 million versus Micron's $106 million.
Such a disparity between the acquired and the buyer highlights a competitive differentiator for Elpida, Chien said. "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 the South Korean giants Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix Semiconductor."