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TrendForce: 4Q17 Mobile DRAM Sales Growth May Outperform Q3’s 4.3% as Prices Surge

23 November 2017 Semiconductors TrendForce

Thanks to the gradual recovery of smartphone market and the advent of busy season, mobile DRAM demands picked up on Q3, boosting prices. Average price hike for mobile DRAM was less than 5% in Q3, mainly for narrowing regional price differences and slightly raising quotes for high-density models, as a result of the sequential revenue growth of 4.3%. SK Hynix racked up remarkable 30% growth, the highest among the top three suppliers, according to DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce.

From the perspective of market share, Samsung and SK Hynix still dominated the market, jointly accounting for 85.6% share in Q3, followed by Micron with 12.4%. As for next quarter, TrendForce points out that given 10-15% average price hike of mobile DRAMs, Q4 revenue growth will outperform Q3.

SK Hynix Maintains Dominance with 30% sales growth

Having pioneered the launch of 10-class nm mobile DRAM era, Samsung has focused on process upgrading for its entire product lines this year. Penetration rate of 18nm mobile DRAM jumped in Q3, thanks to the rollout of new Android flagship models and new iPhones, as a result of which its market share may approach 50% for the whole year. Benefitting from cost benefit brought by constant process upgrading and continuing price hike, Samsung racked up US$8.8 billion in overall revenue, a sequential increase of 15.2% in Q3, when its mobile-DRAM revenue, though, dipped by 1%, due to the crowding-out effect of robust market demand for server DRAM.

With hike of average quotes higher than Samsung and Micron, plus busy-season effect, SK Hynix scored 30.7% revenue growth of mobile DRAM in Q3. Prices remaining high, the company's sales performance in Q4 is expected to exceed that for Q3, however, the growth rate may be dampened by the serious shortage of high density eMCP.

Affected by gas-pollution accident at Fab2 of Micron Technology Taiwan, mainly for supply to smartphones, Micron’s Q3 sales of mobile DRAM dropped by 13% sequentially, driving down the share of mobile DRAM in Micron's total sales to 20%, down from Q2's 26%. But the decline is expected to be reversed in Q4, given price hike for its mobile DRAM which is the highest among the top three suppliers.

Thanks to overall price hike, Nanya and Winbond scored 8.6% and 12.8% sequential revenue growth respectively in Q3. Despite improving yield rate and share of 20nm process in 2nd half, following its launch in 1st half, Nanya still employs 30nm shrink-die process for mobile DRAM, mainly for application in medium- and low-tier smartphones and feature phones, in 2017. It is expected that 20 nm process will not be applied in mobile DRAM until 2018. With outlook for process upgrading still uncertain, Winbond has relied on constant price hike of mobile DRAM for profit growth.

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