DRAM makers have been struggling with falling memory prices for a few years now, and at one point in 2008, Adata chairman Simon Chen declared the DRAM market was the worst it's been in 15 years. Fast forward to today and DRAM players have found their saving grace in the mobile sector. While PC memory is still dirt cheap, mobile DRAM is on a record pace in terms of revenue.
According to IHS iSupply, mobile DRAM will hit a record $6.56 billion in revenue this year, a 10 percent gain from $5.98 billion in 2011. That's also much higher than the 3 percent revenue growth predicted in the standard DRAM market.
"The mobile DRAM segment is achieving impressive growth as mobile operating systems, streaming apps and games require more memory to handle sophisticated tasks," said Ryan Chien, analyst for memory & storage at IHS. "Crucial features like multitasking, media decoding and decompression, data synchronization and background operations are all driving DRAM needs—and new phones and tablets are meeting those needs with their rise in mobile DRAM densities."
A side effect to this is that DRAM densities in mobile devices are getting bigger. The average DRAM density in smartphones, for example, increased from 2.28Gb (gigabits) in the second quarter of 2010 to 5.85Gb in Q2 of this year. In tablets, the average density jumped from 2Gb to 8.33Gb during the same time period, IHS iSupply says.
"The extraordinary accomplishment of mobile DRAM is in marked contrast to the performance of the other memory segments, including standard DRAM used in desktop and notebook computers. Owing to the lagging sales of PC computing behind handsets and tablets, revenue growth for standard DRAM this year is anticipated to be weak," IHS iSupply said. "And while mobile DRAM average selling prices have been falling over time in line with the overall memory space, prices remain relatively firm for mobile DRAM chips because of a number of factors, including high demand, a smaller supply base and healthy density growth."
More memory for less money while the mobile DRAM market still posts record revenue? That sounds like a winning scenario to us.