Smartphone DRAM surges with higher DRAM density and increased adoption

October 18, 2011 — Dynamic random access memory (DRAM) shipments for smartphones will grow 157.2% year-over-year in 2011, a surging sector of a slumping DRAM industry, shows an IHS iSuppli DRAM Market Brief.

Measured in 1GW equivalents, 1.7 billion DRAM units will ship to handset assemblers this year. By 2015, shipments will increase to 13.9 billion units, a 700% rise from 2011.

Figure. Global smartphone DRAM consumption forecast. SOURCE: IHS iSuppli October 2011.

Smartphone sales are booming, and new models of smartphones are increasing memory density, summarized Clifford Leimbach, analyst for memory demand forecasting at IHS.  This sector of DRAM products will make up 7.6% of all DRAM shipments in 2011, up from 4.4% last year, and growing: 10.6% in 2012, 14.9% in 2014, and 16% in 2015.

Also read: Touchscreens in 97% of smartphones by 2016 and MEMS + smart phones: Better together

Average DRAM density in smartphones will reach 715MB next year, up 55% from 461MB in 2011, with no near-term limitations on growth.

The IHS iSuppli Teardown Service checked out the DRAM content of 4 recent smartphone launches:

  • Xperia PLAY from Sony Ericsson: 512 megabytes (MB);
  • Galaxy Indulge from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd: 576MB;
  • iPhone 4 from Apple Inc.: 544MB;
  • Thunderbolt from HTC: 768MB.

By comparison, a device released last year, such as the Android OS touchscreen SGH T939 from Samsung, had only 128MB of DRAM.

New smartphone models like the 4 in these teardowns incorporate discrete DRAM chips, NAND flash, and other memory configurations in multichip packages (MCP) that integrated DRAM and NAND.

The share of memory expenditures in the general bills of materials (BOM) for smartphones stood at an average of 15.7% for the four devices. The only phone to exceed that margin was the iPhone 4 (22.1% of total BOM).

See the IHS iSuppli report "Smartphones, Smart Memory Markets" at

IHS (NYSE:IHS) provides industry analysis on energy and power; design and supply chain; defense, risk and security; environmental, health and safety (EHS) and sustainability; country and industry forecasting; and commodities, pricing and cost. Learn more at

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