The mobile DRAM market is expected to grow 71 percent in 2011, and 20.5 billion gigabits will be shipped by 2015 mainly to meet the surging demand for memory chips in mobile devices, according to iSuppli research
Driven by strong demand for
all kinds of mobile devices, the mobile memory market is poised for "stratospheric"
growth in 2011, according to new research.
Shipments of mobile DRAM (dynamic
random access memory) are projected to grow 71 percent in 2011 and reach 2.9
billion gigabits, up from 1.7 billion gigabits in 2010, IHS iSuppli said Feb. 11. The upward trend is expected to continue for the next few years,
and DRAM shipments will reach 20.5 billion gigabits in 2015, up by a factor of 12 from 2010 figures,
according to the research firm.
The growth "defies" the
slowdown in the overall
as a result of the "ongoing proliferation" of smart phones and
an "increasing public appetite" for tablets, according to Mike Howard, principal analyst for DRAM and memory at IHS iSuppli.
"As these mobile devices
handle more data-intensive applications, demand is expected to escalate for
mobile DRAM," Howard said.
Mobile DRAM is a specialized
variety of memory with advanced power-management features that can instantly store
and retrieve data. Memory vendors consider mobile DRAM very attractive because
it is generally produced against "known demand," and not subject to the "wild
fluctuations" of supply and demand that drive commodity DRAM sales and pricing,
according to Howard. That may not be the case for much longer, he said.
While the projected growth
is very good news for mobile DRAM vendors, it will lead to a gradual decline in
margins, IHS iSuppli warned. Surging growth has prompted "nearly every" DRAM
to roll out its own mobile DRAM offering, increasing the number of
competitors in the space, Howard said.
Third-party vendors like
Kingston Technology will concentrate on just a few product configurations at
very competitive pricing, according to Howard. There will be less focus on elaborate
customization and more on lower-priced standardized mobile DRAM products,
forcing overall prices down, he said.
In 2014, smart phones are
expected to consume 36 times more DRAM than they did in 2009, according to the
research results. Tablets are expected to consume 3.5 billion gigabits of mobile
by 2014, up from a mere 35 million gigabits in 2010, according to IHS
"Such growth in demand,
although representing a tremendous boon for mobile DRAM makers, nonetheless
will contribute to commoditizing the product and will spur a gradual decline in
margins," Howard wrote.
Companies are also
developing more memory options that are leaner and less complex, according to
Howard. Manufacturers are more likely to support standardized products to cut
down costs, he said.
The move toward greater
product standardization-which increases the competition among mobile DRAM
vendors and results in falling prices-indicates the likelihood of mobile DRAM
becoming commoditized, much like the PC DRAM market, Howard said. The
commoditization is expected to take two to three years to unfold, but the first
indications should become apparent by the end of the current year, Howard said.
IHS iSuppli also projected
will result in a fivefold increase in the use of NAND
for storage in 2011.