According to DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce, as smartphones and tablet PCs continue to gain popularity, first-tier DRAM manufacturers are increasing mobile DRAM production ratios. Samsung Semiconductors, showing continuously strong mobile DRAM shipments due to the worldwide success of Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S2 and Note products, was the sole semiconductor manufacturer to remain profitable in 4Q11. As for mobile DRAM price, 4Q11 saw a 10% QoQ decrease, with LPDDR2 8Gb ASP at approximately US$17.4. As 1Q happens to coincide with the traditional weak shipment season this year, mobile DRAM price will continue on a downtrend, with a forecasted decrease of around 15-20%.
Global Branded Mobile DRAM Revenue Ranking
Looking at the global branded mobile DRAM revenue ranking, Korean maker Samsung took the lead again in 4Q11, the company’s revenue showing slight growth for the quarter and far exceeding runner-up Hynix’s figures. Samsung ‘s victory can be attributed not only to the fact that their mobile DRAM production exceeds that of their competitors, but the maker also produces NAND flash products and targets the mobile device market with MCP (multi-chip package). As for technology migration, Samsung’s products will mainly be manufactured on 35nm-node processes this year; add to that the success of their smartphone and tablet PC products, and it is clear why Samsung’s sales figures are far higher than those of other makers. As for Hynix, currently the maker is manufacturing mainly on 44nm-node processes but will transition to 38nm-node processes gradually. In the future, the manufacturer will continue to increase the proportion of mobile DRAM production and speed up technology migration to increase profitability.
As for Japanese maker Elpida, the manufacturer’s 4Q11 market share was less than 20%. Lacking support from NAND flash product lines, Elpida is only able to produce discrete shipments, which limits their negotiating power. Whether the maker will adjust their mobile DRAM strategy in the future will be important to keep an eye on. Looking at Taiwanese makers, currently Winbond’s main process technology is still at the 65nm-node, a significant lag behind Japanese and Korean manufacturers. However, 46nm-node process products are expected to enter mass production in 2H12, and Winbond will transfer their focus from low-end feature phones to mid and high-end products. Furthermore, Winbond's product lines, currently focused on current pseudo DRAM, will gradually see more LPDDR production in the future.