Samsung Expands Lead in DRAM Market in Q2, Report Finds

Samsung led a booming DRAM storage market in the second quarter of 2010, thanks to aggressive technological investment, according to an iSuppli report.

With revenue of $3.8 billion in the second quarter, Samsung's DRAM revenue expanded by 24.3 percent from $3.1 billion in the first quarter, the highest growth rate among the top five suppliers, according to a report from semiconducter market research firm iSuppli. The rise gave Samsung a 35.4 percent share of global DRAM revenue in the second quarter, up from 32.6 percent in the first quarter.

The firm credited Samsung's aggressive investment in advanced manufacturing technology, which allowed the company to outproduce competitors and expand its lead in the global DRAM technology market. The strategy has "paid off in spades," the firm noted in a report. Samsung in the second quarter produced 1.2 billion 1Gbit-density-equivalent DRAM units, up 13 percent from 1.1 billion in the first. The company's DRAM ASP was $3.13 in the second quarter, compared to the industry's DRAM price average of $3.03.

"Samsung's memory business long has pursued a strategy of taking the leadership in investment in new manufacturing processes, allowing it be the first to move to advanced semiconductor process geometries, and thus enabling the company to make semiconductors at a lower cost and at greater efficiency than its competitors," said Mike Howard, senior analyst for DRAM technology at iSuppli. "The company's aggressive push into 40nm semiconductor lithography for DRAM manufacturing boosted the volume of its bit production dramatically. Meanwhile, Samsung's broad DRAM portfolio, including high-end devices like mobile and legacy parts, allowed it to achieve an Average Selling Price (ASP) higher than the industry average."

Overall, iSuppi concluded the DRAM market posted "explosive" growth in the second quarter: DRAM industry revenue in the second quarter soared to $10.8 billion, up 14.4 percent from $9.4 billion in the first quarter. According to the report, growth was driven by a nearly five percent increase in bit shipments and a nine percent rise in ASP.

"From a revenue perspective, the second quarter was the best that the industry had seen since the end of 1995. Shipments for the period came in at 3.56 billion 1Gbit-equivalent units, the highest level ever," the report noted. "Likewise, the $3.03 ASP for all DRAM parts is unequalled since the third quarter of 2008. All told, the expansion across multiple fronts is setting the stage for 2010 to possibly generate the highest annual growth in the history of the industry."

The second strongest growth among the Top 5 DRAM suppliers was posted by Elpida Memory Inc., which achieved a 17.7 percent increase in revenue to $1.9 billion, up from $1.4 billion in the first quarter. Micron Technology Inc. posted the weakest growth among the Top 5 DRAM suppliers in the second quarter, with revenue rising by 4.1 percent to $1.43 billion, up from $1.38 billion in the first quarter, memory pricing and forecasts show. While Micron's market share slipped slightly to 13.3 percent, at the same time, Micron enjoyed the highest ASPs in the industry.