The latest forecasts for component growth in 2012 are focusing around the important role that mobile phone growth (with smart phone water-shedding and super phones being picked up by early adopters), continued tablet PC penetration, and the new ultrabook adoptions will have on the market. These devices share a number of components, particularly the increased NAND flash memory content. Additionally, the increased adoption rate for SSDs and embedded storage devices will support NAND flash demand, according to data from sources such as iSuppli here. Revenue for NAND flash is also expected to surpass DRAM this year, according to this EETimes report based on data from IC Insights.
The case for DRAM is still out, although iSuppli is sounding alarms of a 2008-scenario. iSuppli noted here that DRAM inventory levels continue to increase which will cause additional negative pressure on this sector:
"The IHS iSuppli DRAM Inventory Index in the third quarter stood at 12.75 weeks. This represents a sharp 30.8 percent increase from 9.8 weeks in the second quarter, and more than double the 6.1 weeks seen during the first quarter of 2010, which marked a recent low point for DRAM inventory. It also is significantly higher than the long-term quarterly average of 9.23 weeks."
Beyond memory chips though, Lora Ho, chief financial officer for TSMC was cited here by Financial Times as stating that "[TSMC] expects a double-digit increase in demand for chips used in computers and consumer electronics over the next three months." This announcement came in response to forecasts for revenue for 1Q12 which TSMC expects to be flat quarter-over-quarter rather than a dip; this represents growth for a quarter that is usually lower but due to better than expected holiday demand coupled with the corrections from the Thailand floods, an increase over normal cycles is being forecasted.
While TSMC represents just one company, it is seen as one of the industry bell-weathers. Given the positive momentum and device excitement coming out of CES with these initial positive statements from major companies, there is a green shoot of hope that 2012 will be as exciting as the devices that were on display for consumer (and enterprise) consumption. Intel will provide its report tomorrow, according to the same Financial Times report. Once we see a few more bell-weathers reporting, have more new data pertaining to days of inventory (DOI) for various semiconductor sectors, and see how consumers and enterprises react post-CES, we will have a better footing to preview 2012. Stay tuned!