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Japan Now Fields Only One Major DRAM Supplier

Samsung approaches one-third share of the DRAM market

Scottsdale, Arizona — April 12, 2005 — U.S., Europe, and Japan are each now home to only one leading DRAM manufacturer (Figure 1).  Back in 1991, Japanese companies represented five of the top-ten DRAM producers.  In 2004, two South Korean companies, Samsung and Hynix, accounted for almost half (46 percent) of DRAM marketshare, while three Taiwan-based companies joined the DRAM “billion-dollar” club for the first time.

Overall, the DRAM market grew 61 percent to $26.8 billion in 2004.  Five of the top eight companies in the list grew at a faster rate than the overall DRAM market and three grew at a slower rate than the total DRAM market. 

Figure 1

Samsung retained its DRAM leadership in this market by increasing its DRAM sales 66 percent to $8.3 billion, or 31 percent marketshare.  Samsung’s DRAM marketshare was almost twice that of its nearest competitor, Micron.  Samsung, which had focused much of its manufacturing might on flash memory in 2003, placed additional emphasis on its DRAM business in 2004.  The company is well poised for the advent of DDR2-generation DRAMs devices and remains a leading provider of other high-density DRAMs as well.

Closing in on the number two spot was Hynix, whose DRAM sales increased 72 percent in 2004.  Hynix sold/spun off its non-memory operations into a separate company called MagnaChip in 3Q04, allowing it to focus on DRAMs and its nascent NAND flash business.  Hynix has built a strong and visible DRAM presence in China and much of the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.  Its strength in this region helped offset obligatory DRAM duties that were first imposed by the U.S. and European governments in 2003.

Two companies saw triple-digit improvements in DRAM sales in 2004.  Elpida, ranked fifth on the top supplier list, grew its DRAM business 119 percent to $1.5 billion in 2004.  Elpida includes the former DRAM businesses of NEC, Hitachi, and Mitsubishi.  In 2004, the company raised $1 billion through an IPO, the year’s fourth-largest IPO in Japan.  Elpida is using most of the funds to build and equip a 300mm wafer fab in Hiroshima.

Even with its 119 percent growth, Elpida was not the fastest growing DRAM supplier in 2004.  That distinction goes to Taiwan-based Powerchip Semiconductor, which saw its 2004 DRAM revenues increase 159 percent to $1.23 billion!

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