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Kingston Technology Leads the DRAM Module Industry: TrendForce

The global PC DRAM module market revenues arrived at US$ 7.3 billion in 2013, a 32% YoY increase from 2012's US$ 5.5 billion, according to DRAMeXchange, the memory and storage research division of TrendForce. The main factors leading to the revenue growth included price increases for PC DRAM, increased spot market demand, and the rising proportion of contract market transactions. The top ten module manufacturers accounted for nearly 88% of the entire market's revenue in 2013, with Kingston Technology maintaining its usual leading position within the industry. ADATA Technology and Ramaxel, which ended up in second and third place, respectively, showed respective revenue growth of 116% and 37%. As the module manufacturers' operations are becoming increasingly diverse, the ranking for 2013 is based solely on their annual DRAM revenue.

NAND Flash Brand Supplier Revenue Falls 6.6% in First Quarter

The shipment performances of Smartphones, Tablets, and Notebooks were relatively weak in the first quarter due to seasonality. As a result of the entire NAND Flash market's oversupply in 1Q 2014, the branded suppliers' Q1 revenues saw a 6.6% drop compared to the previous quarter, and slid to approximately US$ 7,244 million, according to Sean Yang, Assistant Vice President at DRAMeXchange, the memory and storage research division of TrendForce.

Looking at the branded supplier revenue ranking, Samsung managed to retain its lead in the market with approximately US$ 2,175 million in sales, but saw its market share dip slightly to 30.0%; Toshiba came in second with a revenue total of US$ 1,548 million and an improved market share of 21.4%; SanDisk ended up in third place with US$ 1,367 million in revenue, while Micron came in fourth with US$ 1,050 million; Affected by its capacity allocations, SK Hynix's revenues slid to approximately US$ 594 million, resulting in market share of 8.2%.

DRAM Spot Prices Increase in November

According to DRAMeXchange, a division of global research firm TrendForce, as forecast in a previous report, DRAM contract price showed signs of stabilization in November; the previous US$1 to $2 monthly decline is narrowing, and DDR3 4 GB contract price is holding at the US$15 mark. TrendForce expects the contract price trend will only show a slight decrease in December, and may even stay flat for the month.

As spot market prices fluctuate more than contract prices, the spot market is often a good indicator of future DRAM prices. This week the spot market is seeing increased activity; DDR2 and 2 Gb eTT and DDR2 prices have increased by 1.24% and 1.09%, respectively. Top-tier memory makers began quietly building inventory in October, and spot market buyers seem to be following suit, providing an opportunity for a price rebound. TrendForce believes the DRAM spot price uptrend is due prior capacity cuts taking effect as well as strong entry-level tablet, or "Mobile Internet Device", shipments in China.

Ultrabook (and the like) Shipments to Double in 2013: Taiwan Manufactuers

It looks like recent Ultrabook platform growth forecasts by DRAMeXchange are on the money, as sources associated with PC ODMs in Taiwan are coming forward with expectations of 100% growth in Ultrabook and Ultrabook-like notebook shipments in 2013. It's important to note that the figure is augmented with shipments of various "Ultrabook-like" notebooks, which are tough to classify. By the end of 2013, Ultrabooks will make up 10% of the global notebook shipments, according to the sources.

Source: DigiTimes

DRAM Price Decline Results in 8.5% QoQ Decrease in DRAM Industry Value

According to DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce, as PC shipments are continually adjusted downwards and yearly growth has decreased by 5% YoY, demand for the peak season is not as strong as expected and the oversupply situation continues to worsen. As a result, contract price for 2 Gb chips fell by 22.5% in the third quarter, from US$1.11 in July to US$0.86 in September. Server and mobile DRAM are also showing falling price trends, resulting in an 8.5% drop in the value of the DRAM industry compared to the previous quarter; DRAM suppliers' revenues are falling across the board. However, looking at third quarter demand, with strong shipments for mobile devices like smartphones and tablet PCs, mobile DRAM accounted for 25% of total DRAM output, a significant increase from less than 20% in the second quarter. Consequently, market share is on the rise for memory makers with higher mobile DRAM ratios, like Samsung and Elpida. For the DRAM industry, improving core competitiveness lies in proper product adjustment, the key to profitability with such bleak market conditions.

NAND Flash Shipments Valued at $4.626 Billion, Samsung Leads in Shipments

Market research firm TrendForce released NAND flash shipment figures for 3Q 2012. The global NAND flash market is valued at US $4.626 billion, a healthy 6.6% growth over the previous quarter. A TrendForce DRAMeXchange report provided a break-down of shipments of NAND flash by manufacturers. Leading the pack is Samsung, with 41.2% market-share, registering a 1.8% QoQ growth. Trailing behind is Toshiba, with 24.7% market share, and a significant 12.9% QoQ growth. In September, Toshiba cut prices and scaled up production, which may have contributed to the growth. Micron holds 14.4% of the market with 2.8% growth, SK Hynix 11.6% with 6.4% growth (the company began mass-production of SSD-grade NAND flash this quarter), and Intel with 7.6% of the market-share, growing at 19.7%. Bear in mind, these numbers represent NAND flash components used not only in SSDs, but also USB flash drives, memory cards, etc.

Source: TrendForce

Ultrabooks to Grow Over 30% in 2013, Becoming Key PC Market Indicator

According to DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce, as the cost decline of ultrabook components like SSDs, displays, and cases becomes more apparent next year and Intel places more focus on developing processors for ultrabook use, ultrabook market size may exceed 30 million units in 2013, growing by more than 30% compared to this year and accounting for 17% of the notebook market.

DRAM Production Cuts Take Effect, Likely to Lead to a Rebound for DRAM Prices

According to DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce, given the persistent oversupply situation in the global DRAM market, along with the -5% YoY shipment growth for PCs, October contract prices have dropped below $16 USD, and are continuing to approach the $15 USD mark. The trends pose as yet another test to the cost structures of DRAM makers. With prices approaching or dropping below cash cost, manufacturers are faced with the option of either undergoing production cuts or shifting their focus towards non-DRAM products.

Other than ProMOS, which chose to quit the DRAM market due to financial woes, manufacturers like Elpida and Rexchip have taken the initiative to lower their output levels in August. Powerchip, beginning September, took a similar initiative by adjusting P3 wafer levels, whereas in the following month, Nanya and Inotera made the official announcement to implement 20% production cuts. For the South Korean DRAM manufacturers, whose cost structures appear to be superior to those of other competitors, no production cuts have been announced nor taken, although efforts to control output ratios have been intensified. At the same time that production of commodity DRAM is being lowered, an increasing amount of emphasis is being placed on the production of the more profitable mobile and server DRAMs.

DRAM Contract Price Falls Below US$16 Due to Weak Demand

According to DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce, PC-ODM shipment figures indicate this year's peak shipment period for PCs has passed. Notebook shipments have shown a downtrend in October, indication that DRAM demand is slipping. As 4 GB modules are now the mainstream specification, price decline was more significant than for the 2 GB modules; average 4 GB price fell by 1.54% to US$16, while the lowest price broke the US$16 mark, arriving at US$15.75, amounting to a mere US$0.83 for 2 Gb chips - nearly the same as spot price. 2 GB module price, on the other hand, stayed the same at US$9.25. As module prices fall to such lows, DRAM suppliers are strategically focusing on high-density 4GB module shipments in hopes of stimulating sales due to content per unit increases.

Micron Emerges as Front-Runner To Buy Out Elpida

Following a rapid turn of events, Micron Technology has emerged as a front-runner in the race to buy out ailing Japanese DRAM major Elpida. Elpida revealed Micron as the winner of the second round of bidding for the right to negotiate exclusively to buy it. DRAMeXchange predicts that Micron may offer up to 300 billion JPY (US $3.75 billion) for the deal, and the Micron+Elpida combine that emerges out of the deal, with its DRAM capacity, could bring about a revolutionary change in the industry.

The Elpida buyout, according to market analysts at TrendForce, will give Micron the capability to compete with Korean DRAM heavyweights SK Hynix and Samsung Electronics, in high-volume DRAM manufacturing. Elpida has been known for investments in DRAM R&D, and isn't behind the two Korean companies in terms of volume manufacturing. Its 30 nm-class DRAM yield-rate is nearly mature, while the next-generation 25 nm process is in testing phase.

Source: DRAMeXchange

DRAMeXchange: Six Upcoming Trends in the DRAM and NAND Flash Industries

According to DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce, the following report presents a forecast of six major DRAM and NAND Flash industry trends in 2012-2015.

Trend-1: Mainstream PC DRAM Specification DDR3 to Dominate Market Until 2014

DDR3 has been the mainstream PC DRAM specification since 2011, and DRAMeXchange expects it will remain so until 2014. Although JEDEC will officially announce standards for DDR4 in 2012, DRAMeXchange is conservative as to whether the new specification will follow the historical pattern set by DDR and DDR2 and hit the market in 2014-2015, as the marginal benefit to PC performance provided by DDR4 will be limited. However, Intel will still hold decisive influence over the matter.
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