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The Market Overview and Growth Momentum of Specialty DRAM

Memory has always been an important segment in the semiconductor market, and DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) is considered to play an essential role in this segment. From the analysis of MarketWatch, the revenue of DRAM market exceeded USD 80 billion in 2019 and is expected to surpass USD 110 billion by 2025 with a 5.44% CAGR. A lot of new applications with products that need more storage capacity, computing power and MCU numbers are emerging; it becomes the growth engine of DRAM market.

On the classification of IHS, DRAM market could be divided into PC, server, mobile, graphics DRAM, and the rest market equipped with middle/low density DRAM would be categorized as Specialty DRAM. In general, Specialty DRAM is with density less than 8Gb (the densities of Winbond’s products are listed below for reference). Overall, Specialty DRAM accounts for around 17.4% in the total DRAM market.

Fig. 1 Different DRAM segment market share by bit basis (Source: IHS)
Fig. 1 Different DRAM segment market share by bit basis (Source: IHS)

 

Specialty DRAMDensity
SDRAM16Mb~256Mb
DDR SDRAM64Mb~256Mb
DDR2 SDRAM128Mb~2Gb
DDR3 SDRAM512Mb~4Gb
PSRAM32Mb~256Mb
HyperRAM32Mb~64Mb
LPSDR SDRAM128Mb~512Mb
LPDDR1 SDRAM128Mb~1Gb
LPDDR2 SDRAM256Mb~2Gb
LPDDR3 SDRAM1Gb, 4Gb
LPDDR4 SDRAM2Gb~8Gb
LPDDR4X SDRAM2Gb~8Gb

The applications in Specialty DRAM market would be automotive, industrial, consumer, networking and storage, etc., and the key players including Winbond, Nanya, Etron and AP memory are all from Taiwan; except JHICC is from China. Basically, the process node of Specialty DRAM would be 1 or 2 generations behind the latest technology 1Y or 1Znm from Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron.

Key PlayersProcess Node
Winbond25nm
Nanya20nm
Etron3Xnm
AP memory3Xnm
JHICC25nm

Main Growth Momentum: IoT, 5G and AI

Since DRAM technology is labor and capital intensive, companies without huge investment on finance and human resources have zero chance to join this competition. Therefore, DRAM market has been occupied by Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron for a long time. Comparing to the mainstream DRAM market, Specialty DRAM market is relative niche and small, however, the coming era of IoT, 5G, and AI will bring new demand of it.

The end products of IoT are characterized by high-mix low-volume (HMLV) manufacturing, like smart speakers and wearables. With computing power and data storage requirement, these products need customized middle/low density DRAM to support the above functions, and Specialty DRAM would be a perfect fit for them.

 

Fig. 2 Memory driving forces in IoT and embedded applications (Source: AP memory)
Fig. 2 Memory driving forces in IoT and embedded applications (Source: AP memory)

 

Moreover, the deployment of 5G also drives the demand of Specialty DRAM. For instance, in terms of 5G base stations, small and macro cells could be equipped with 4Gb DDR3 or DDR4 and AI accelerators could be equipped with 4Gb or 8Gb LPDDR4. Other than that, 2Gb or 4Gb LPDDR4/4X could be used in 5G CPE, and Winbond even released related MCP solution (Multi-Chip Package, 2Gb NAND Flash and 2Gb LPDDR4X) for usage.

AI is not a separate concept from 5G and IoT. In fact, AI and 5G, IoT all leverage and connect with each other. 5G technology brings up more applications in IoT field, and some of them may need the acceleration of AI, such as voice-related, image-related, or HPC (High Performance Computing)-related applications, etc.. Edge AI computing and low-latency requirement need DRAM to be faster and more efficient. In the meantime, the demand of Specialty DRAM rises as well.

To sum up, accompanied by the booming of IoT, 5G, and AI, the bit demand of Specialty DRAM is increasing; meanwhile, more applications could be anticipated in the near future.

 

Winbond Provides the Complete Products of Specialty DRAM

Being a world leading Specialty DRAM designer and manufacturer, Winbond features characteristics of high performance and high speed DRAM with low and middle density in electronic markets. Different from the classification in the general market, Winbond categorizes DDR and LPDDR into Specialty DRAM and Mobile DRAM, respectively.

DDR products all support for Industrial and automotive application with AEC-Q100, TS16949, ISO9001/14001, OHSAS18001 certificates[1]. LPDDR products with low power and low IDD current support both x16 and x32 data widths. Major features for the families of products include the following: Sequential or Interleave burst, High Clock rate, Standard Self Refresh, Partial-Array Self Refresh (PASR), Automatic Temperature Compensated Self Refresh Rate (ATCSR), Deep Power-Down (DPD), and Programmable output buffer driver strength[2].

Specialty DRAMDensityVoltagesData Width
SDRAM16Mb~256Mb2.5V/3.3Vx16, x32
DDR SDRAM64Mb~256Mb2.5Vx8, x16
DDR2 SDRAM128Mb~2Gb1.8Vx8, x16
DDR3 SDRAM512Mb~4Gb1.5V, 1.35Vx8, x16
Mobile DRAM*DensityVoltagesData Width
PSRAM32Mb~256Mb1.8V/1.8Vx16
HyperRAM32Mb~64Mb1.8V, 3Vx8
LPSDR SDRAM128Mb~512Mb1.8V/1.8Vx16, x32
LPDDR1 SDRAM128Mb~1Gb1.8V/1.8Vx16, x32
LPDDR2 SDRAM256Mb~2Gb1.8V/1.2Vx16, x32
LPDDR3 SDRAM1Gb, 4Gb1.8V/1.2Vx16, x32
LPDDR4 SDRAM2Gb~8Gb1.8V/1.1Vx16, x32
LPDDR4X SDRAM2Gb~8Gb1.8V/1.1V/0.6Vx16, x32

* Mobile DRAM is based on the classification of Winbond

What is worth mentioning is that Winbond has launched LPDDR4/4X series for more advanced applications in 2019 2H. LPDDR4/4X is the first wave of Mobile DDR products that adopts Winbond’s self-developed 25nm memory processing technology, which is equipped with full professional features. It includes two series: the JEDEC defined LPDDR4X (VDDQ voltage 0.6V) and LPDDR4 (VDDQ voltage 1.1V), with 2Gb, 4Gb and 8Gb capabilities available. As for data transmission rate, the product series covers 3200MT/s, 3733MT/s, or even reaches 4266MT/s[3].

 

Conclusion

DRAM market is estimated to continuously grow in the coming years and Specialty DRAM with middle/low density will definitely grow as well with the momentum of IoT, 5G and AI related applications.

Winbond provides a complete product line for Specialty DRAM, come visit TechDesign now and select the chips for your project!

[1] Source: Winbond website, Specialty DRAM section 
[2] Source: Winbond website, Mobile DRAM section 
[3] Source: Winbond website, News, Winbond Electronics Launches a Series of Mobile Memory Products – LPDDR4X targeting at Niche Market

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