Market and Technology Trends
Status of the Memory Industry 2023
By Yole Intelligence —
The memory market is primed for comeback as we exit 2023: $200B revenues forecast by 2025
4DS, Adata, Adesto, Advantest, Alliance Memory, AP Memory, Apacer, Apple, Applied Materials, ASE Tech. Hold., ASML, Avalanche, Buffalo, Canon, Centon, CXMT, Cisco, CNE, Crocus, Crossbar, Cypress, Dell, Dosilicon, Etron, ESMT, Everspin, Facebook, Ferroelectric Memory Company, Fidelix, Freescale, Fudan Microelectronics, Fujitsu, Fusion IO, GigaDevice, GlobalFoundries, Google, GSI Technology, HHGrace, Hikstor, Hitachi, HLMC, Honeywell, HP, Huawei, IBM, IDT, IMEC, Infineon, Innostar, Intel, ISSI, JHICC, Kingston, Kioxia, KLA Tencor, Lam Research, Lapis, Lenovo, Longsys, Liteon, Lyontek, Macronix, Marvell, Maxio, Maxim, Materion, MediaTek, Microchip, Micron, Montage Technology, Nantero, Nanya, Naura, Nikon, NEC, NetApp, NetList, Numem, Numonyx, NXP, ON Semiconductors, Panasonic, Phison, Powerchip, Powertech, ProMOS Technologies, Qualcomm, Rambus, Reliance, Realtek, Renesas, Rohm, Samsung, SanDisk, Seagate, Semtech, Silicon Motion, SK Hynix, SK Materials, Smart Modular Technologies, SMIC, Sony, SPIL, SST, Spin Memory, STMicroelectronics, STEC, Swissbit, TDK, Texas Instruments, Tezzaron, TEL, Teledyne e2v, Toshiba, TowerJazz, TPSCo, Transcend, Truth Memory, Tsinghua Unigroup, TSMC, UMC, UniIC Semiconductors, Unimos Microelectronics, Unisantis Electronics, Viking, Violin Memory, Weebit, Western Digital, Winbond, XFab, XMC, XTX Technology, YMTC, and more.
- Description of technical trends andmanufacturing challenges, scaling roadmaps andplayers’ dynamics with a special focus on China.
- Overview of the solid-state drive (SSD) andmemory module with their key protocols andinterfaces (e.g., DDR5, HBM3, CXL).
- Breakdown of the memory market from asystem point of view, detailing present and futurememory needs for servers, smartphones, personal computers, SSDs, and vehicles.
- Mapping of the stand-alone memory supplychain, analysis of M&A and joint ventures, and listof noteworthy news.
- Overview of embedded memory technology andprogress towards in-memory computingapplications.
- Technology trends analysis with focus on hybrid bonding for next-generation 3D NAND, DRAM, and HBM technologies.
- Update on the challenges and prospects for the transition from planar to monolithic 3D DRAM.
- 2022 financial analysis of IDM memory companies including Samsung, SK hynix, Kioxia, Western Digital, Micron, and Solidigm.
- Update on the NOR Flash memory business: key players, growth drivers, applications, market share, revenue, and more.
- Update on the Chinese memory business: China reactions to the October-2022 US exports controls, technology roadmaps for YMTC and CXMT, recent investments and players’ dynamics.
- Update on the challenges and prospects for the transition from planar to 3D monolithic DRAM.
- Overview of technologies and players involved in persistent memory, processing-in-memory (PIM) and computational storage.
- Provide a comprehensive overview of the stand-alone memory market:
- NAND and DRAM market trends, including revenue and bit demand-shipment forecasts
- Market size and dynamics for other stand-alone memories:
- Stand-alone NOR flash
- Emerging NVM (PCM, MRAM, RRAM)
- Other technologies: volatile and non-volatile SRAM, FRAM, EEPROM, EPROM, mask PROM/ROM, etc.
- China’s memory-market landscape
- Memory modules (incl. NVDIMM) and solid-state drives
- Processing in memory and computational storage
- Present technology trends:
- Future developments, by technology
- Memory packaging technology trends
- Challenges and opportunities for emerging NVM
- Scaling and functional roadmaps
- Storage and memory modules: technology and market trends
After the worst downturn of the last 15 years, the memory market is primed for comeback by the end of 2023.
Over the past several quarters, the memory markets have faced the most dramatic downturn of the last 15 years. DRAM and NAND prices have fallen 57% and 55%, respectively, since Q3-2021. The most severe drop started in the final weeks of Q2-2022 when a perfect storm of demand-side developments (global conflicts, high inflation, China COVID lockdowns, etc.) crashed into the memory markets.
The results for the full year 2022 were as follows: DRAM and NAND revenues – which account together for 96% of the overall memory market – decreased to ~$79.7B (-15% YoY) and ~$58.7B (-12% YoY), respectively; NOR flash declined 8% YoY to $3.2B
Production cuts have set up suppliers to reach a market balance by the end of 2023. However, the financial losses incurred so far have been massive, and a recovery time longer than usual will be needed before suppliers increase their investments again. As such, 2024 and 2025 will be marked by undersupply and climbing prices, and revenues are expected to soar: after declining to $42B for DRAM (-47% YoY) and $37B for NAND (-37% YoY) in 2023, combined memory revenues are expected to grow to a new record-high of over $200B by 2025.
Amid escalating trade-war tensions, China’s memory ambition has not diminished
Due to the commercial restrictions set in October 2022 by the US Department of Commerce (DoC), the outlook for the ramp-up of Chinese memory production has become uncertain, and combined wafer capacities for YMTC and CXMT are likely to be limited to ~180kWpm in the next five years. China has reacted promptly to the restrictions:
- Since Q1-2023, YMTC has considerably intensified its efforts to work with Chinese equipment vendors – among which is Naura Technology – through a not-so-visible project code-named “Wudangshan” and received funding – of the order of $7B – from its state-backed investors.
- A Bloomberg article published on April 20th, 2023, introduced the rumor that CXMT is seeking an IPO at a valuation of more than $14B. For a six-year-old company, this is an astonishing figure, but this should be put in the context of the global memory industry, where memory capital expenditures by international suppliers can easily surpass a single-digit billion-dollar amount over a 2-year period.
Although the future of China’s memory industry remains uncertain, what is clear is that memory will continue to be a strategic priority for the Chinese semiconductor ecosystem. China will do everything possible to keep their workhorse memory companies – YMTC and CXMT – alive and running.
Hybrid bonding is key for next-generation 3D NAND and HBM. By 2030, DRAM is poised to become 3D.
In 2022, the three major memory players (Samsung, SK hynix, and Micron) have all been shipping large volumes of 1𝛼 DRAM. Whereas SK hynix and Samsung have already adopted EUV lithography for DRAM manufacturing, Micron will finally start using it from the 1γ node.
In the 3D NAND business, all leading companies have introduced 3D NAND technologies that rely on specific strategies for optimizing the logic-circuit area and position, such as CMOS-Under-Array (CUA) and wafer-to-wafer bonding solutions – for example, XtackingTM by YMTC. Nowadays, all memory manufacturers are carrying out R&D on hybrid bonding, and major NAND suppliers have included it in their roadmaps: Kioxia and Western Digital have announced it for their 218L 3D NAND generation, Micron entered into a license agreement with Adeia in 2022, and SK hynix announced that hybrid bonding will enter mass production in 2025. Hybrid bonding is not yet in use in current HBM generations, but it will be needed in the coming years to continue to improve memory bandwidth and power efficiency, as well as to minimize HBM stack thickness. We predict that the adoption of hybrid bonding by HBM manufacturers will start with the HBM3+ generation, featuring 16 DRAM dies per stack.
Monolithic 3D DRAM is being investigated by all major DRAM manufacturers as a potential solution for long-term DRAM scaling and has been included in the roadmaps of major equipment suppliers. We are confident that 3D DRAM is set to happen, but it will not be within the next five years.
Glossary and definitions
Scope of the report
Methodology & definitions
About the authors
Companies cited in this report
What we got right, what we got wrong
NAND market forecast
- Revenues, demand, shipments, ASPs, wafer production, capex…
DRAM market forecast
- Revenues, demand, shipments, ASPs, wafer production, capex…
NOR and other stand-alone memory market forecast
- Revenue forecast for NOR, (NV)SRAM, Emerging NVM, and more
Memory demand forecast by end system
- NAND and DRAM bit demand and average content in $ and GB
Stand-alone memory market overview
Memory market trends – overview by end markets
- Telecom & infrastructure (focus on data center)
- Mobile and consumer
- Focus on smartphones and tablets
- Focus on computing (desktop and laptop PCs)
- Focus on wearables and other consumer devices
Stand-alone memory technology - overview
- NAND technology trends
- DRAM technology trends
- Monolithic 3D DRAM – overview
- NOR and other stand-alone memory
Memory players and supply chain
- Memory players – financial analysis
- Supply chain mapping
- 2022-203 business highlights
- List of mergers & acquisitions and noteworthy news
China’s memory business
- Status and prospects, investments, competitive landscape
DRAM modules and solid-state drives – overview
- Technology and market trends for DIMMs and SSDs
Memory packaging – overview
Emerging non-volatile memory – overview
Emerging storage and memory trends
- Computational storage
- Processing in memory
- Compute Express Link (CXL)
- DNA-based storage
Embedded memory business – overview
About Yole Group
Yole Group Corporate presentation