DRAM growth tops industry ranking in 2018; Outlook dims for 2019

IC Insights is in the process of revising its forecast and analysis of the IC industry and will present its new findings in The McClean Report 2019, which will be published in January 2019.  Among the revisions is a complete update of forecast growth rates of the 33 main product categories classified by the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics organization (WSTS) through the year 2023.

Topping the chart of fastest-growing products for 2018 is DRAM, which comes as no surprise given the strong rise of average selling prices in this segment over the past two years (Figure 1).  The 2018 DRAM market is expected to show an increase of 39%, a solid follow-up to the 77% growth in 2017. The number-one position is not unfamiliar territory for the DRAM market.  It was also the fastest-growing IC segment in 2013 and 2014.

Figure 1

Remarkably, DRAM has been at the top and near the bottom of this list over the past six years, demonstrating its very volatile and cyclical nature.  IC Insights forecasts that DRAM will rank nearly last in terms of market growth in 2019, with a 1% decrease in total sales.  After two strong years of growth, Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron—the world’s three primary DRAM suppliers—have expanded their manufacturing capacity and are beginning to ramp up production, bringing some much needed relief to strained supplies, especially for high-performance DRAM devices. At the same time, shipments of large-scale datacenter servers, which were a primary catalyst for much of the recent DRAM market surge, have begun to ease as uncertain economic and trade conditions factor into decisions about continuing with the strong build out.

NAND flash joins DRAM as another memory segment that has enjoyed very strong growth over the past two years (Figure 2).  Solid-state computing, particularly, has been a key driver for high-density, high-performance NAND flash even as mobile applications continue to be a significant driver. Meanwhile, automotive and computing special purpose logic devices have also been strong performers the past two years.  The top five IC markets listed for 2018 are the only product categories that are expected to surpasses the 17% growth rate of the total IC market this year.

Figure 2

The full list of IC product rankings and forecasts for the 2019-2023 timeperiod is included in The McClean Report 2019, which will be released in January 2019.

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