Market Watch

Mobile DDR2 DRAM to Expand Technology Beyond Handsets

Tablet PCs and MIDs to help push densities past traditional cell phone levels

June 17, 2010

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Double-Data Rate 2 (DDR2) DRAM is set to take the cell phone market by storm, with the next-generation device expected to displace conventional DDR as the dominant mobile DRAM technology by 2011, according to iSuppli Corp.

About 80 percent of all mobile DRAM shipments in 2010 are expected to be DDR. However, this situation will change rapidly with mobile DDR2 crossing over to become the dominant technology by the second half of 2011. These shipments include both cell phones and other types of mobile products, although wireless handsets dominate the area.

The rise of DDR2 primarily is being driven by soaring DRAM densities and demand for higher performance in cell phones, mainly because of booming sales of smart phones. The average DRAM density for all cell phones is expected to amount to 922Mbits in 2010, up 48.2 percent from 622Mbits in 2009.

The success of mobile DRAM in the smart phone space continues to gain momentum in the face of new products entering the market as well as the pervasive app craze demanding higher densities of memory for each new iteration. And while changes and transitions in memory technologies are occurring rapidly, a fast crossover to DDR2 is likely to occur given that demand for DDR2 in coming not just from smart phones but also from other mobile applications, such as tablet PCs and other Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs).

In addition, higher-density parts will find usage in 2010, with 2Gbit and 4Gbit DRAM set zto represent 38 percent and 17 percent, respectively, of the mobile market this year, iSuppli anticipates. While mobile DRAM parts used in mobile phones in 2009 all had densities of less than 1Gbit, the increased purchase of smart phones requiring ample memory to run features and apps have pushed densities into the 2Gbit realm.

Meanwhile, in addition to higher densities, smart phones also are demanding the faster performance delivered by DDR2.

With the recovery of the economy and the increase in density, mobile DRAM manufacturers appear ready to roll out DDR2 for later this year. Already, DDR2 products up to 2Gbits are being tested by the main suppliers— Elpida Memory Inc., Hynix Semiconductor Inc., Micron Technology and Samsung Electronics. iSuppli predicts that several Taiwanese DRAM companies this year will shift their product mix to more mobile DDR2.

Read More, Mobile DDR2 Waiting in the Wings >

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