Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s aggressive investment in advanced manufacturing technology paid off in spades in the second quarter, allowing the company to outproduce competitors and expand its lead in the global DRAM technology market, according to the semiconductor market research firm iSuppli Corp.
With revenue of $3.8 billion in the second quarter, Samsung’s DRAM revenue expanded by 24.3 percent from $3.1 billion in the first quarter, the highest growth rate among the top five suppliers. The rise gave Samsung a 35.4 percent share of global DRAM revenue in the second quarter, up from 32.6 percent in the first quarter.
Samsung’s memory business long has pursued a strategy of taking the leadership in investment in new manufacturing processes, allowing it be the first to move to advanced semiconductor process geometries, and thus enabling the company to make semiconductors at a lower cost and at greater efficiency than its competitors," said Mike Howard, senior analyst for DRAM technology at iSuppli. "The company’s aggressive push into 40nm semiconductor lithography for DRAM manufacturing boosted the volume of its bit production dramatically. Meanwhile, Samsung’s broad DRAM portfolio, including high-end devices like mobile and legacy parts, allowed it to achieve an Average Selling Price (ASP) higher than the industry average."
Samsung in the second quarter produced 1.2 billion 1Gbit-density-equivalent DRAM units, up 13 percent from 1.1 billion in the first. The company’s DRAM ASP was $3.13 in the second quarter, compared to the industry’s DRAM price average of $3.03.
DRAM’s Dramatic Growth
Confirming iSuppli’s outlook, the DRAM market posted explosive growth in the second quarter.
DRAM industry revenue in the second quarter soared to $10.8 billion, up 14.4 percent from $9.4 billion in the first quarter. Growth was driven by a nearly 5 percent increase in bit shipments and a 9 percent rise in ASP. From a revenue perspective, the second quarter was the best that the industry had seen since the end of 1995. Shipments for the period came in at 3.56 billion 1Gbit-equivalent units, the highest level ever. Likewise, the $3.03 ASP for all DRAM parts is unequalled since the third quarter of 2008
All told, the expansion across multiple fronts is setting the stage for 2010 to possibly generate the highest annual growth in the history of the industry.
The second strongest growth among the Top 5 DRAM suppliers was posted by Elpida Memory Inc., which achieved a 17.7 percent increase in revenue to $1.9 billion, up from $1.4 billion in the first quarter. Elpida’s robust performance was because of its higher-than-average shipment growth of 8 percent as well as an improved product mix.
Micron Muddles Along
Micron Technology Inc. posted the weakest growth among the Top 5 DRAM suppliers in the second quarter, with revenue rising by 4.1 percent to $1.43 billion, up from $1.38 billion in the first quarter, memory pricing and forecasts show.
Micron struggled during the second quarter, likely due to manufacturing challenges at its Inotera facility.
"Inotera has had the daunting task over the past few quarters of not only transitioning to the 50nm process node but also of migrating from Qimonda’s trench technology to Micron’s stack technology," Howard said. "Once it is past this challenge - which appears to be the case - Inotera should be able to achieve outstanding bit growth for the duration of 2010."
Micron’s market share slipped slightly to 13.3 percent. At the same time, however, Micron comfortably enjoyed the highest ASPs in the industry by a sizable margin. Clearly, its product portfolio and keen targeting of high-value market segments helped the company mitigate its manufacturing shortcomings.
FInd Out More > DRAM Market Surges in Q2; Samsung Boosts its Top Spot