The Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) market was valued at USD 66.8 billion in 2020 and is expected to cross the USD 100 billion mark by the end of 2026 by witnessing a CAGR of approximately 7% for the period 2020-2026. The onset of COVID-19 led disruptions across DRAM productions and supply chain. The allied prices started to decline from April 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic began to severely impact the demand for smartphones and other electronic gadgets in major markets, like the United States and Europe.
Moreover, the India, Cellular & Electronics Association (ICEA) estimated that months of March and April were affected by 15-20% lowering of smartphone volume. Further, the impact, in terms of production value, was estimated to be INR 2,500-3500 crore in March and INR 2,000-2,500 crore in April, further contributing significantly to price drops.
- The increasing adoption of microcontroller and memory ICs in automobile electronics and the growing application of memory storage chips in electronic devices is one of the significant factors driving DRAM products' demand. Further, rising demand for consumer electronics led to DRAM being a considerably low cost and high-performance option. With DRAM being used in wearable gadgets, like smartwatches, the allied production capacities are expected to continue to grow.
- DRAM has witnessed significant developments as it moved its applications beyond personal computers and mobile devices into servers, automotive, and cloud applications. Such diversification is expected to drive the market studied, over the forecast period.
- Server Memory, for instance, has witnessed increased demands with data center loads rising. Multiple new constructions globally and increasing capacities to the exciting centers have led significant attention from the market vendors. In 2020, SK Hynix announced roadmap details to accompany its Q1 earnings. It shared plans on developing 1ynm mobile DRAM, LPDDR5 DRAM, and 64GB server DRAM product sales.
- Also, Micron added that AI-based servers need six times more DRAM than servers for traditional workloads. This itself highlights a robust demand-driven from the server solely. As of June 2020, the company mentioned consumer demand for smartphones and other consumer electronics to fall, but data center demand to remain strong enough. Likewise, it aims to shift its supplies from the smartphone market to the data center market, for both DRAM and flash memory chips. Its early 2020 sampling of DDR5 Registered DIMMs (RDIMM), based on 1znm process technology, indicates developments across the next generation of server workloads.
Key Market Trends
Automotive Segment to Drive the Market Growth
- The automotive segment leads to a significant boost to DRAM productions. The Driver Awareness Systems (ADAS) and self-driving vehicle systems have been increasingly demanding processors that require the memory capacity and bandwidth only possible with DRAM. Thus, the market landscape has been required to adhere to safety-critical automotive systems, as well as common concerns regarding error rates and meeting stringent automotive standards such as ISO 26262.
- Similarly, in October 2019, Intelligent Memory expanded its DRAM line with a new series of LPDDR4(X) devices with integrated ECC (error correction code) capabilities. The LPDDR4 and LPDDR4X memory, thus, run at very high speeds with very low operating voltages and power consumption. With design operability featuring higher temperature ranges up to 125°C and being AEC-Q100-qualified, it is made suitable for automotive applications.
- Also, significant demand across in-vehicle infotainment systems and ultra-high-speed in-vehicle connectivity drove Valens and Micron to collaborate. Therefore, the partnership aims to develop automotive platforms to fulfill the needs of autonomous, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) as well as next-gen in-vehicle infotainment systems.
- With overall sales of electric vehicles (EVs) growing, the EEI reported that as of September 2019, over 1.3 million electric vehicles were on U.S. roads. Significant quantities of DRAM, NAND flash, and SSD storage are used in modern automobiles, thus contributing to the growth of the market studied, over the forecast period. Additional supportive government regulations in favor of the global electric vehicle market are further augmenting the demand for DRAM.
Asia Pacific to Witness Highest Growth
- The booming Asia-Pacific semiconductor market contributes to a major portion of the market studied. The semiconductor or memory IC industry is responsible for the significant growth of the Asia-Pacific economy. Also, governmental support, especially in China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, the regional vendors have been increasing their production capacities to meet the increasing global demand for DRAM.
- For instance, in June 2020, ChangXin amongst a handful of other Chinese chipmakers explored DRAM production with CNY 15 billion as an investment in the campaign. ChangXin Memory Technologies Inc.'s domestic DRAM production reached the market in May 2020. Also, a flash storage producer, Shenzhen Longsys Electronics Co. Ltd., announced that ChangXin's chips passed related tests and would equip three of its storage products.
- Whereas, back in September 2019, Tsinghua Unigroup sought after an investment of CNY 800 billion across ten years for DRAM manufacturing. Such increased domestic production activity is likely to challenge the existing market shares of Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix, to name a few.
- On the vendor front, early 2019 saw SK Hynix had completed the expansion of its dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) manufacturing plant in Wuxi, China. As of November 2019, TSMC and UMC planned on expanding facilities in China concerning wafer-based productions.
The competitive rivalry in the Dynamic Random Access Memory is high owing to the presence of many key players, continually trying to gain maximum market share. Some of the major players are Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix, Winbond, and many more. Their ability to continually innovate the products by investing heavily in R&D has enabled them to gain a competitive advantage over their competitors.
- February 2020 - Samsung announced the commencement of Mass Production of 16GB LPDDR5 DRAM for Next-Generation Premium Smartphones. The data transfer rate for the 16GB LPDDR5 comes in at 5,500 megabits per second (Mb/s), nearly 1.3 times faster than the previous counterpart. Compared to an 8GB LPDDR4X package, the new mobile DRAM delivers more than 20-percent energy savings while providing up to twice the capacity.
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