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Friday, June 6, 2014
Mobile Device Growth Drives Memory and Storage Industry Development

The NAND flash industry development continues to improve due to mobile device growth, speakers at the "TrendForce Compuforum" event underlined at Computex 2014.

During the event, organized by TrendForce and Taipei Computer Association (TCA), the DRAMeXchange's analysts discussed the latest technology and market trends in 2014.

According to DRAMeXchange, the DRAM industry showed a strong recovery in 2013 following the consolidation of the market and is poised to become more profitable with the support of the industry’s top three manufacturers. Looking at 2014, DRAMeXchange Assistant Vice President Avril Wu projects the entire industry output value will grow 33% YoY to approximately US $45.9 billion. Industry profits are anticipated to increase in both 2014 and 2015 as the average industry prices stabilize under restrained supply growth and as manufacturers cut down overall spending. With regards to technological advances, given that an increasing number of manufacturers are beginning to push towards 20nm manufacturing process, the annual bit growth for the DRAM industry could arrive to as much as 27% in 2014. The industry’s transformation into an oligopoly, essentially, has brought orders to the supplier market, and makes profitability as the industry priority.

Armed with its power saving feature, Mobile DRAM managed to penetrate both the individual PC and Server markets, and could eventually be equipped in wearable computers. According to Wu, Mobile DRAM will account for more than 30% of the DRAM industry’s revenues by the end of 2014, effectively replacing PC DRAM as the mainstream product. The next generation LPDDR4 is currently still in the testing phase. However, by using advanced 2xnm processes and integrated into 8Gb chips, the LPDDR4 will become a widely used solution for flagship devices by 2015. As the Mobile DRAM market’s oligopoly is more obvious than other DRAM products, in the long term its prices are expected to remain stable and allow for further profits.

Aside from growing smartphones and tablets shipments, cloud-computing has also spurred SSD server and enterprise applications that will further diversify NAND Flash industry developments in 2014. Even though the industry faced oversupply during off-peak quarters, DRAMeXchange's Assistant Vice President, Sean Yang, believes that the market can still reach a potential supply and demand balance with NAND Flash manufacturers continuing production output regulations, and as demand in the market grows during the peak quarters. For 2014, NAND Flash industry value is estimated to rise by 5% YoY to US $25.2 billion, while demand bit growth is set to approach 40%.

On the other hand, the shipment momentum of smartphones, tablets, and relevant mobile devices will continue to play a crucial role in stimulating demand for mobile solutions such as eMMC and eMCP. In 2014, the consumption of eMMC, eMCP, and other Mobile NAND that are being utilized will reach an estimated 25%, and the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is expected to reach close to 60%. As eMMC becomes more affordable and with growing number of mainstream manufacturers opting to support the format, eMMC solutions might eventually extend from mainstream mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets into other types of consumer electronic products. This year eMMC will not only be applied in Google’s highly promoted Chromebook, but also in other popular wearable devices. The increasing use of NAND Flash components in novel mobile devices is anticipated to benefit the entire industry's development in the long term, projected DRAMeXchange.

At the same event, analysts from TrendForce's WitsView research division talked bout the latest developmets in the touchscreen market.

Intuitive touch-based operations significantly contributed to the popularization of mobile devices, but development in the touch module market has far been smooth. Touch module specs have reached maturity in smartphone and tablets. Panel makers continue to release touch module integrated In-cell and On-cell panel products to further accelerate market competition, and has intensified price wars.

"While Microsoft’s certification system has relatively high standards for NB touch technology, Windows OS was unable to fully take advantage of integrated touch technology," said WitsView Senior Research Director Eric Chiou. "In addition, the recent NB market is concentrated on entry-level models with retail prices set at US $249. Consequently, touch NB penetration rates remain at 16% in 2014, and touch module oversupply situation cannot be resolved in the short-term."

"As for the highly-anticipated wearable devices, due to the small display area and unclear level of market acceptance, this segment will have very limited contributions to the touch module industry," Chiou added. "However, wearable devices are likely to be the first to apply curved and flexible displays and have an opportunity to spear head touch technology development."

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