Global Ultrabook shipments are expected to soar over the next several years, going from less than 1 million units in 2011 to 136.5 million units in 2015, market research firm IHS iSuppli says. The firm believes this "massive level of growth will have major repercussions for the global electronics supply chain" and will shake up various semiconductor markets, in particular having a positive impact for sensors and power and analog semiconductors, but will reduce demand for upgrade memory modules.
"While the Ultrabook is regarded as a type of notebook computer, its thin and light form factor requires changes in design and component selection compared to conventional mobile PCs," IHS iSuppli explains . "And although Ultrabooks on the whole represent a huge new growth opportunity for semiconductor suppliers, their rapid growth will cause major realignments among chipmakers serving the notebook markets."
Sensors will feel the love from this shift towards Ultrabooks over the next four years. As it stands, media tablets contain an average of $3.45 worth of sensors per device, compared to just $0.51 for a traditional notebook. With Ultrabooks expected to account for 42 percent of the notebook market by 2015, there's a huge growth opportunity for sensors, and especially those based on microelectromechanical system (MEMS) technology, according to Jérémie Bouchaud, principal analyst, MEMS and sensors, for IHS.
Unfortunately for DRAM makers, who are already struggling to flip a buck, Ultrabooks will prove detrimental to the DRAM business, IHS iSuppli says.
"The vast majority of Ultrabooks now shipping have DRAM chips soldered directly onto the motherboard," said Clifford Leimbach, memory demand forecasting analyst at IHS. "This helps to achieve an extra-thin design by eliminating the additional PCB traditionally used in notebook PCs required for support of a DRAM module. However, this also eliminates the need for a traditional small outline dual in-line memory module DRAM module."
Of course, all this hinges on Ultrabooks carving out a significant slice of the notebook market.