The worldwide semiconductor market is poised to make a significant rebound in 2013, due in large part to a growing demand for memory that is being fueled by increasing sales of tablets and smartphones, according to market research firm IHS.
In particular, markets for dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and NAND flash memory are particularly strong, with revenues growing by 35 percent and 27.7 percent, respectively, according to IHS numbers, which were released Dec. 3.
"Memory chips are coming to the rescue of the semiconductor business in 2013," Dale Ford, head of electronics and semiconductor research at IHS, said in a statement. “Solid pricing and expanding demand for DRAM and NAND in smartphones and tablets have caused revenue for these memory devices to surge. Without these two high-performing product segments, the semiconductor industry would attain zero growth this year.”
The semiconductor report dovetails with findings in the processor market IHS analysts released Nov. 26, which showed that smartphones and tablets are replacing traditional PCs as the key growth drivers for the market.
"The overall processor market would not be so healthy if it weren't for smartphones and tablets," Gerry Xu, senior analyst of processor research for IHS, said in a statement. "The PC market that traditionally drove the growth of the microprocessor segment has slowed. The new mobile platforms have more than picked up the slack, delivering both large volumes and fast growth for processor shipments."
Overall, worldwide semiconductor sales will hit $317.9 billion this year, a 4.9 percent increase over the $302.9 billion generated in 2012. The demand for memory made a big winner out of Micron Technology, which will see sales this year jump 109.2 percent over 2012, pushing it up from 10th to fourth on the list of the top semiconductor vendors, IHS analysts said. Micron also was helped by its purchase of Elpida Memory in August.
Intel will keep the top spot in the market, even though its semiconductor revenue will fall 1 percent, dropping its market share from 15.7 percent last year to 14.8 percent in 2013, the analysts said.
Qualcomm is continuing to ride the growth in the wireless industry, with semiconductor revenue expected to grow 31.6 percent this year and gaining 1.2 percentage points in market share, to 5.5 percent. Qualcomm is No. 3 in the world, behind Intel and Samsung, according to IHS numbers.