Market Watch

DRAM Content in Tablets to Grow 147 Percent in 2011


Apple’s iPad 2 has 512MB, compared to 1GB in competitors’ tablets
The amount of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) in tablet devices will jump 147 percent in 2011 to an average 676 megabytes (MB), according to new IHS iSuppli research.

With tablets handling more data-intensive applications such as video, the average DRAM content in these platforms during 2011 will be about two-and-a-half times more than last year’s 274MB. Rapid expansion will continue next year, when DRAM in tablets average approximately 1.3 gigabytes (GB), after the memory content will grow more slowly. 

Nonetheless, tablets by 2015 will have DRAM content similar to that of today’s laptops, reaching some 3.7GB, an impressive spread equating to a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 68 percent from 2010 to 2015.

 DRAM Content in Tablets

Despite the substantial increase this year of DRAM content in tablets, growth could have been even greater if Apple Inc.’s recently released iPad 2 turned out to have the full 1GB of DRAM—similar to the iPad’s competitors, which prior assumptions seemed to indicate—instead of just 512MB. In comparison, the Xoom by Motorola, the TouchPad by Hewlett-Packard and the BlackBerry Playbook by Research In Motion—tablet devices competing with the iPad—each has 1GB of DRAM.

Apple’s choice to include only 512MB of DRAM isn’t really surprising, however, given that the company is attempting to focus on the overall tablet experience rather than its product specifications, IHS believes. Just the same, Apple’s dominance of the tablet market at present—taken in consideration with the 512MB in its iPad devices—means that the overall increase in DRAM content this year was much less than if Apple had used 1GB.

Meanwhile, speculation abounds that the next version of the iPad might feature a Retina camera display similar to Apple’s iPhone 4 and iPod Touch. If this turns out to be true, DRAM content surely will jump to 1GB, IHS predicts, which then would alter the forecast and result in even greater DRAM content growth in tablet devices. Future releases of the iOS operating system by Apple might also unleash iPad functionality that could require more DRAM.

DRAM growth in tablets is mirrored by a similar increase of DRAM content this year in smart phones, projected to grow 62 percent; and in tablets, expected to climb 33 percent. Around the 2012 to 2013 time frame, tablets will become a signifcant DRAM category rivaling smart phones, IHS iSuppli research indicates. And while both tablets and smart phones use less DRAM content per device than PCs, their combined shipments in 2011 will outnumber those of PCs, making them categories well worth watching in the DRAM arena.

Read More > The State of the Tablet: Comparing Apple’s iPad 2 to the Competition