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No gain for DRAM makers with Windows 8

Posted: 30 Oct 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DRAM  Windows 8  Microsoft 

Microsoft's rollout of Windows 8 is not expected to generate a significant increase in DRAM bit shipments unlike previous Windows operating systems launches, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli.

Global DRAM bit shipments are expected to increase by 8 per cent in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter, according to IHS. Previous Windows rollouts have always generated double-digit increases in quarterly DRAM shipments, according to the firm.

According to IHS, the lower than normal expected DRAM boost is partly due to the operating system's lean hardware requirement. More importantly, the arrival of Windows 8 is not likely to deliver a significant increase in PC shipments in the fourth quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2011, IHS said.

DRAM bit shipment percentage growth

"The release of a new Microsoft OS traditionally has been accompanied by more advanced system requirements, which then fuels growth in the DRAM market as more bits are shipped," said Clifford Leimbach, analyst for memory demand forecasting at IHS. "However, starting with Windows 7 and continuing with Windows 8, Microsoft has taken a leaner approach with its operating systems, maintaining the same DRAM requirements as before."

Meanwhile, Leimbach said, customers are continuing to shun new PC purchases, and Windows 8 is not expected to change the equation. IHS recently forecast that overall PC shipments would contract in 2012 for the first time in 11 years.

Not like the old days
In past years, the release of a new Windows OS would spur PC OEMs to increase DRAM orders to comply with the heavier system requirements, spurring big increases in bit shipments. For example, at the time Windows 98 was released in the third quarter of 1998, bit shipments increased by 40 per cent, IHS said. The releases of Windows 2000 and Windows XP created even bigger increases, the firm said.

But this trend has slowed with the releases of the past two versions of Windows, IHS said. The release of Windows Vista in 2007 spurred only a 24 per cent increase in bit shipments, while the release of Windows 7—which did not require more memory to operate—resulted in just an 18 per cent increase in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to IHS.

With DRAM amounts in PCs increasing at a slower rate, the increase in DRAM uptake in the fourth quarter is attributed mainly to smartphones and tablets, as well as refreshed PCs, IHS said.

Moving forward, IHS expects that PCs will be less important to the overall DRAM market. PC share in the DRAM space dipped below 50 per cent for the first time earlier this year, while alternative devices using DRAM—such as smartphones and media tablets—are raising their usage and DRAM market share, IHS said.

For more statistics and forecasts, click here.

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