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Mobile Driving Recovery Growth - Memory must be patient, iSuppli briefs


Wednesday iSuppli presented an interesting sector briefing  on mobile memory based on their tear downs of handsets performed over the past couple of years. 

Mark DeVoss, Senior Analyst for Mobile and Emerging Memory Technology, reported that mobile devices are certainly an important growth area, showing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) forecast from 2008 to 2013 of 4.6%.  Given the recent year, and the rebound still to come, that is a good number.

In concert with the broader mobile sector outlook, of particular focus and interest are the data that inform the trajectory of the components that comprise the mobile handsets.  While the mobile sector itself is certainly a driver, the component architecture will tell us more about the direct impact and forecast for subsectors within the semiconductor supply chain.

To summarize the iSuppli findings, while NOR memory dominated the 2008 mobile handset component market, the trend is obvious and steep in the movement away from NOR and pSRAM and towards NAND and DRAM solution sets.  According to DeVoss, data supporting this trajectory are found in the declining ASPs and flat megabyte shipment levels for NOR and pSRAM, while there is an increase in NAND and DRAM megabytes shipped over the same period.  Furthermore, as DeVoss presented, the NOR versus NAND based mobile handset units from 2008 to 2009 show a striking trajectory:


2008 Total Percentage

2009 Total Percentage







A final point, though not the only other one raised, is the impact of memory on the bill of materials (BOM) for mobile handsets.  As DeVoss notes, memory is having a lessening impact on BOM for mobile handsets as prices have decreased per megabyte, equating to a lower memory ASP overall.  Meanwhile, other features of the handset, such as display, graphics, and similar types of "touchy-feely" differentiators, are picked up by consumers as being increasingly important and are increasingly costly compared to memory.

iSuppli finds that NOR and xRAM based solutions are loosing out to NAND + mobile DRAM (mDRAM), multi-chip package (MCP), and package on package (PoP) solutions for the mobile handset sector. 

Interesting findings and an interesting report, as always, from iSuppli.  We'll be watching how these forecasts continue to play out in memory, the mobile sector, and as possible trends across the industry.

Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.
Written on Friday, 08 May 2009 00:00 by Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.

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