While Gartner is expecting NAND Flash memory to surpass DRAM sales by 2014, analysts from IHS say that DRAM manufacturers will see massive growth in demand from the smartphone segment.
"DRAM usage in smartphones is rising at a rapid clip, as a result of high memory densities in these devices, along with ever-rising sales to consumers," said Clifford Leimbach, analyst for memory demand forecasting at IHS. "Compared to this year’s stunning DRAM growth in smartphones, a shipment expansion amounting to a much less spectacular 50% is expected for the total DRAM market, which is dominated by sales to the PC business."
Leimback believes that smartphone DRAM will be increasinging its market share within the overall DRAM market in the future. This year 7.6% of all DRAM memory will end up in smartphones. By 2015, that share will grow to 16.0%, according to IHS.
The average smartphone currently has 461 MB in memory. Next year, that number will increase to 715 MB, IHS predicts.
Despite this impressive growth outlook, there are analysts who believe that the DRAM market will actually shrink. Gartner analyst Andrew Norwood recently said that NAND Flash is likely to surpass DRAM by 2016 in sales volume. Gartner believes that overall 2010-2011 DRAM sales will decline by 26.6% to $29.0 billion, while Flash sales will grow by 20.6% to $24.8 billion. Only Flash will be able to sustain positive grown over the next few years and the two technologies may reach sales parity at about $35.4 billion by 2015, Gartner said.