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NOR flash market on the road to recovery

Posted: 04 Mar 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:NOR flash  memory market  consumer electronics 

The long-suffering NOR flash memory market is enjoying similar momentum to the overall memory market and is finally back on the road to recovery. According to iSuppli Corp., the overall NOR revenue in Q4 09 amounted to Rs.5,679.77 crore ($1.23 billion), up 0.7 per cent from Rs.5,633.59 crore ($1.22 billion) in the previous quarter.

"This marks the third consecutive quarter of sequential growth for the market, after revenue dipped to less than $1 billion [Rs.4,617.70 crore] during the dismal first three months of 2009," said Michael Yang, senior analyst for memory and storage at iSuppli. "NOR flash revenue in the fourth quarter was boosted by demand from multiple consumer products, including LCD TVs, cell phones and computers. Demand was so strong that NOR was in a state of shortage for most densities."

However, the Q4 growth was not spread evenly among the NOR suppliers, and there were distinct winners and losers. Specifically, Numonyx and Macronix were the big winners, being the only companies among the Top 5 suppliers to achieve sequential growth in Q4 09.

Still on top
Numonyx, which assumed the mantle as the No. 1 provider of NOR flash memory in Q3 09, cemented its position in Q4. The company's NOR flash revenue grew to Rs.2,004.08 crore ($434 million), up 7.2 per cent from Rs.1,870.17 crore ($405 million) in the third quarter of 2009. More importantly, this resulted in a commanding 35.4 per cent share of the total NOR flash market, up from 33.3 per cent in Q3.

"As Spansion continues to restructure itself after filing for bankruptcy—and moves away from investing heavily in the wireless segment—Numonyx has been able to step in and garner design wins from disaffected former Spansion customers," Yang said. "Obviously, this success is part of the reason companies looked to Numonyx as a possible acquisition target. With a pending acquisition ahead, this should solve the potential problems Numonyx might have had with production capacity issues."

Emerging powerhouse?
Macronix also had an excellent Q4, with Rs.591.07 crore ($128 million) in NOR revenue, up 4.1 per cent from Rs.567.98 crore ($123 million) in Q3. The company was the top beneficiary of the renewed spending on consumer electronics products and PCs.

Macronix has doubled its market share since 2008 to 10.4 per cent of the total NOR flash market and continues to find success with its serial NOR products in the embedded space.

The company has a number of serial products in the pipeline that should continue to fuel its profits in the embedded space.

Macronix is seeking to acquire additional manufacturing capabilities to ensure that production can keep up with its success, although nothing has been finalised yet.

The industry has been poised to reinvent itself, evident by the recent acquisitions of SST and Numonyx. This spells opportunity for those companies with the right products and strategies to further distance themselves from the pack.

For more statistics and forecasts, click here.

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