Notebooks, graphics cards pushing DRAM market higher, says Samsung

Analysts earlier this year were very cautious about predicting revenues for the semiconductor industry. On paper, 2006 could have spelled disaster for the industry - and Microsoft's decision to delay Windows Vista into 2007 was to be only one factor that was seen as a possible reason for consumers to delay PC purchase decisions, which has a significant impact on semiconductor revenues.

But according to a recently released report by Isuppli, semiconductor revenues increase much faster than originally anticipated. The firm expects overall growth of 7.9%. One of the drivers of the market apparently will be DRAM: Samsung, the world's largest DRAM supplier told TG Daily that it expects the global market to grow by more than 14% in 2006 - compared to only 5% in 2005.

The company said that growth factors include a strong server market and especially growth in mobile DRAM, which is estimated at about 117% for 2006, as well as graphics DRAM, which will gain about 57%, Samsung said. Another less visible growth apparently is also the overall 2006 PC market, which turned out to be much stronger than originally expected. In Q1, the market showed a sequential decline of about 4%, which however was less dramatic than the 9% in Q1 of last year. Also, the PC industry was able to sell more PCs in Q1 than in Q3 of 2005, which is seen as an indicator for a strong PC environment.

At least according to Samsung, the Vista delay does not show a dramatic impact on the DRAM industry in 2006. The "Vista Ready" marketing program is seemingly convincing enough for consumers to upgrade their systems today: According to IDC, the average PC houses 620 MB of DRAM today; during 2006, this number will climb to 854 MB, with most new computers offering 1 GB of memory in a standard configuration.

The 2007 launch of Vista, may bring another boost for the industry: Samsung quotes growth expectations of 14% (from $55 billion in 2006 to $63 billion in 2007), which may be realistic if Microsoft reaches its stated goal of shipping copies of Windows Vista on 250 million new PCs and selling at least 150 million upgrade packages within the first 24 months after launch.