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Electronics Production | March 30, 2011

Average DRAM density in tablets skyrockets

The amount of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) in media tablets will jump 147% in 2011 to an average of 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,” said Mike Howard, principal analyst for DRAM & memory at IHS. “The rapid expansion will continue next year, when average DRAM in tablets reaches approximately 1.3 gigabytes (GB). In 2015, tablets will have DRAM content similar to that of today’s laptops, reaching 3.7GB.” 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 display similar to Apple’s iPhone 4 and iPod Touch. If this turns out to be true, DRAM content surely will jump to 1GB, Howard 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%; and in tablets, expected to climb 33%. Around the 2012 to 2013 time frame, tablets will become a significant 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.
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