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Electronics Production | October 31, 2006

Third-Party DRAM Module Market Prospers in 2006

Following the lead of the DRAM chip market, the third-party DRAM module business is chalking up a great year, with revenue growth of 15.7 percent in the first half compared to the same period in 2005, and an expected rise of 28.5 percent for all of 2006, according to iSuppli Corp.

DRAM modules are memory packages consisting of DRAM chips mounted on small printed circuit boards. These modules enable the connection between DRAM chips and PCs and other electronic equipment. While some modules are made by DRAM and computer makers, a major portion of such products are sold by third-party suppliers. "The global third-party DRAM module market posted $5.1 billion in revenue in the first half, and is expected to achieve $11.3 billion in revenue for the entire year," observed Ally Liao, analyst, memory/storage for iSuppli. "This strong expansion reflects robust conditions in the market for the DRAM chips used in such modules. Global DRAM semiconductor revenue is expected to rise to $30.6 billion in 2006, up 24 percent from $24.8 billion in 2005." Kingston Technology Co. Inc. in the first half of 2006 maintained its domination of the third-party DRAM module business, with revenue of $853 million, and a market share of 16.7 percent, as presented in the table below and attached. The U.S.-based company achieved revenue growth of 15.7 percent in the first half of 2006 compared to the same period in 2005. However, the fastest-growing third-party module supplier during the period was Taiwan's TwinMOS Technologies Inc., whose ranking rose to fifth in the first half, up from the No. 13 position for all of 2005. TwinMOS' growth was boosted by its merger with Memory Devices Ltd. in March, combined with its tremendous success in the rapidly expanding Chinese market. Looking at other third-party DRAM suppliers, Transcend Information Inc. of Taiwan achieved revenue of $141 million in the first half of 2006, up 15.2 percent from $122 million in the first half of 2005. The company rose to the No. 10 ranking in the first half of 2006, up from No. 12 for all of 2005. Transcend benefited from its move to shift production from server-oriented DRAM modules to those targeted at the fast-growing PC market. The biggest surprise among the third-party DRAM module suppliers was the performance of Apacer Technology Inc., which suffered a 26.4 percent decline in sales in the first half of 2006 compared to the same period in 2005. The company's ranking tumbled to ninth in the first half of 2006, compared to fifth for all of 2005. "This decline came after Apacer decided to expand its business from the mainstream PC area to the higher-margin industrial computer segment-and to the market for VLP (Very-Low Profile) Dual Inline Memory Modules (DIMMs) for servers," Liao said. "VLP DIMMs are high-density, chip-stacked modules that have low production yields. Because of the yield limitations, Apacer's rate of production slowed, impacting its sales." Based on iSuppli's most recent market survey, the third-party DRAM module business appears to be maintaining its momentum in the second half of 2006 due to strong holiday demand for PCs and other products. Furthermore, the market is benefiting from rising DRAM content in various applications, particularly consumer-electronics devices. "Favorable market conditions and strong growth will continue in 2007," Liao predicted.
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