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DRAM market scores unlikely gains

Slow uptake fails to dampen the market as SK Hynix makes advances

DRAM market scores unlikely gains
South Korean supplier Sk Hynix helped the DRAM segment to make unlikely gains, says IHS.

The dynamic random access memory (DRAM) market overcame seasonal slowness and returned to growth in the final quarter of 2012, helped by the strong performance of SK Hynix after the South Korean supplier expanded to its market share, according to an IHS iSuppli DRAM Dynamics report from information and analytics provider IHS.

According to the report, the DRAM industry revenue amounted to $6.7bn in Q4, 2012 up from $6.4bn in the third - a welcome return to form following a contraction in the previous quarter. It was also a rare show of strength by the market, bucking what is normally a trend of declining revenue from the third to the fourth quarter each year, said IHS.

The information and analytics provider said the star of the season was SK Hynix, which picked up two more percentage points of market share in revenue terms, boosting its overall portion to 26%-its largest ever. The plucky supplier grew shipments by 28% on the quarter, far outpacing the industry expansion rate of 12%. Without the gigantic growth of SK Hynix, the DRAM industry would have achieved growth in the fourth quarter of just 6%-half the 12% increase that can be officially claimed for the period. SK Hynix succeeded in pulling off the feat by taking down inventories that had been creeping up during the third quarter.

IHS said the supplier remains in second place after fellow South Korean giant Samsung Electronics, which is still on top with a 42% market share. Samsung's shipments grew 12% in line with industry performance, even though its average selling prices fell almost 8%, according to the report.

In third place, was Elpida Memory, soon to become part of fourth-placed Micron Technology, which bought the bankrupt Japanese supplier last year. Elpida's market share climbed 1 percentage point to 14%, and its average selling prices were flat after a shift in product mix resulted in the supplier having a larger portion of mobile DRAM. Micron, meanwhile, surrendered nearly 2 percentage points of share in light of mediocre shipment growth and weak prices, landing with just 11% of the market, according to IHS.

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