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TrendForce Reports Global DRAM Industry Revenue Fell 4.8% in Q2 as Contract Prices Continue to Drop

11 August 2015 Semiconductors Avril Wu

DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce, reports the global DRAM industry revenue reached US$11.4 billion in the second quarter, down by 4.8% from the previous quarter. Industry revenue fell despite bit supply growth due to an about 10% quarterly decline in the average contract price. All DRAM makers experienced revenue decline during the off-peak season, but their margins did not shrink significantly as they continue to advance their process technology. Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron’s operating profits were respectively 48%, 37% and 21%. The real test for the DRAM industry will arrive in the next few quarters. Weak demands persist in the notebook and smartphone markets, and the 20 and 21nm processes are increasing the DRAM supply at the same time. DRAMeXchange therefore expects the decline of DRAM prices to extend further in the future.

"In terms of global DRAM market share based on revenue, Samsung and SK Hynix respectively took 45.1% and 27.7% in the second quarter," said DRAMeXchange’s Assistant Vice President Avril Wu. "Together, the top two suppliers accounted for over 70%." Conversely, Micron’s market share fell to around 20.6% during the same period mainly because of falling prices and lack of bit supply growth."

In terms of manufacturing process, Samsung has proven its technological prowess yet again with their newest 20nm process. The course of the migration has been smooth and the yield rate is stable. More importantly, the migration schedule is ahead of all its competitors by six months to a year. Presently, PC and server DRAM are the main products on Samsung's 20nm process, but the DRAM maker will expand into other product categories soon and maintain a huge cost advantage as DRAM prices continue to drop. SK Hynix's most advanced 21nm process is still at the beginning of the pilot run, and sample deliveries have been pushed back to the end of the third quarter. Mass production is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2016, roughly the same as the schedule of Micron's 20nm process. Micron on the other hand has not made any significant breakthroughs in its process technology since the previous quarter, so most of its products are still manufactured on the 30nm process. Compared with its two Korean rivals, Micron is encountering much higher costs.

As for Taiwanese DRAM makers, Nanya's migration to the 30nm design shrink technology is currently on schedule, and the output ratio of this advanced process will reach 60% by the end of this year. Nanya's 20nm process will not enter mass production until the second half of 2016, when its new fabrication plant is built. Nanya’s second-quarter revenue dropped slightly by 5.1%. Inotera was hit hard in the second quarter as their product mix consists of mostly PC and server DRAM, both of which experienced the most severe price decline. Inotera is also behind the industry leaders in the 30nm process migration. Consequently, its gross margin fell from 47.2% in the first quarter to 34.9% in the second. Powerchip, which mostly produces PC DRAM as a foundry service, saw sequential revenue decline in the second quarter. The DRAM maker has begun sample production on the 25nm process, which will enter mass production early next year if there is no change to schedule. While Winbond does not produce PC DRAM, the high-density specialty DRAM market has also been subject to price wars. Set against the prior period, Winbond’s second-quarter revenue fell by 8.5% and its second-quarter operating profit dropped to 11.2%.

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