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1Q DRAM revenue surprisingly strong, posts 32% growth

Posted: 14 May 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:commodity DRAM  DDR3  market analysis 

As commodity DRAM prices continue to rise, contract price for mainstream DDR3 4GB is also growing. According to TrendForce's DRAMeXchange division, at the beginning of the first quarter contract prices of mainstream DDR3 4GB was at Rs.937.50 ($17.25) and then increased to Rs.1,277.17 ($23.5) at the end of March, posting a 32 per cent increase. This positive trend in the market ensures that the DRAM industry revenue for the first quarter of 2013 remains on par with the previous quarters figures. Something that is not usual in the traditionally weak first quarter.

However, not all DRAM suppliers have seen the same gains, as some produce more commodity DRAM than others; SK Hynix and Micron have benefited the most from the uptrend. As DRAM industry restructuring continues, prices are expected to continue supporting revenue growth in the second quarter.

Looking at TrendForces' global DRAM brand manufacturer revenue ranking, Korean makers Samsung and SK Hynix's combined market share represents 64.3 per cent of the market, 3 per cent less than in the previous quarter.

Branded DRAM ranking

1Q13 global branded DRAM revenue ranking (Unit: Million USD)
Source: DRAMeXchange, May 2013

Samsung's DRAM revenue saw a 10 per cent quarterly decrease; as its commodity DRAM production has been reduced to less than 20 per cent of total supply, the supplier did not benefit as much from the price rebound. However, since Samsung's mobile DRAM output exceeds 40 per cent and mobile DRAM is the most profitable of all memory products, Samsung's first quarter margins were strong despite the revenue decrease. As for SK Hynix, the supplier slowed ramping of mobile DRAM production partly due to the fact that Apple's shipments were weaker than expected; with SK Hynix's commodity DRAM output at 42 per cent of total production, the supplier was able to maintain 5.7 per cent revenue QoQ growth in the first quarter. U.S. manufacturer Micron experienced the highest revenue growth for the quarter, 23.8 per cent, due in large part to the addition of Inotera's capacity to the Micron group. As for Japanese supplier Elpida, revenue growth amounted to 11 per cent in the first quarter based on calculations in yen, but due to currency depreciation, conversion to U.S. dollars results in a 2.3 per cent decrease in revenue.

Branded DRAM ranking

1Q13 branded DRAM market share by region
Note: Market share calculation does not the "Others" category
Source: DRAMeXchange, May 2013

As for Taiwan-based suppliers, although Nanya has officially shifted its business focus to speciality DRAM, the maker still had commodity DRAM in production during the first quarter. While the manufacturer has turned to foundry business, its capacity remains fully loaded, and commodity DRAM inventory contributed to a 9.3 per cent revenue increase. Powerchip has transitioned to foundry work as well; since the manufacturer reduced commodity DRAM production in the fourth quarter, revenue decreased significantly. As a result of the low base period, Powerchip experienced 62 per cent growth after resuming commodity DRAM production in the first quarter. Winbond remains focused on speciality memory sales while it slowly increases the proportion of mobile DRAM production. In addition to manufacturing Pseudo DRAM, Winbond has also begun volume production of low-density LPDDR1 products, resulting in a slight 0.5 per cent QoQ climb in revenue. In summary, DRAM manufacturers' revenue is strongly affected by commodity DRAM prices; in the first quarter of 2013, commodity DRAM fared well, resulting in revenue growth for most memory makers.

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