DEEP DIVE INTO MEMORY TECHNOLOGY TRENDS - A critical market in modern data-centric societies, memory technologies are driven by important megatrends that include cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), mobility and the internet of things (IoT). Naturally, the memory market is a massive part of the semiconductor industry. Yet, it is also highly segmented in terms of applications. This prompts the implementation of multiple technologies that aim to support stand-alone applications, embedded memories in processors... enabling fast access to data, as well as very large data lakes. All to be able to store an ever-growing data-driven world.

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KEEPING TRACK OF THE SEMICONDUCTOR MEMORY MARKET

Semiconductor memory has largely displaced Hard Disk Drive (HDD) in the data storage realm.

NAND – used for permanent storage in mobile devices – and DRAM – used for temporary storage in personal computers, servers and mobile devices – are commodity products that are used for a broad spectrum of applications and systems, including smartphones, SSDs, PCs, servers and vehicles.

This all makes memory one of the largest applications for semiconductors.

Our vision

MEGATRENDS DRIVE MEMORY TECHNOLOGY TO NEW HEIGHTS

The stand-alone memory market is cyclical in nature, characterized by periods of shortages and oversupply that give rise to strong price variations and revenue volatility. As a result, investments and manufacturing capacities are under high scrutiny from various OEMs and investors.

Understanding these market developments as well as the implementation of related new technologies is at the core of Yole Group’s memory activity.

To fully understand the memory industry’s evolution including latest technology innovations and wafer/unit/$ market developments, alongside the main players’ strategy (investment/capex, revenues, market shares, alliances, M&A), Yole Group’s memory teams monitor the major memory components including NAND, DRAM, MRAM, PCM, ReRam, etc. Yole Group’s analyses also cover the packaging platform for memory applications as well as solutions for system integration.

In addition, our teams also look at developments in the embedded memory market. As memory manufacturing advances, it prompts a need for new embedded memory technologies. These evolutions are impacting both the supply chain as well as the OEMs.

By combining market, strategy and technology analyses with teardowns and reverse costing capabilities, we have a unique approach to helping you make sense of the memory business.

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MEMORY INDUSTRY - ONLY CERTAINTY IS UNCERTAINTY

We provide you with a comprehensive overview of the future developments, challenges and opportunities for memory technologies and manufacturing.

At Yole Group, we have a special focus on NAND and DRAM. For each of them, we develop scaling and functional roadmaps including die teardown results and fab construction updates, and analyze market size and dynamics. We are following the memory industry on a quarterly basis, based on evolution of revenue and price, as well as market shares, shipment of bit demand, etc.

Within our products, we offer a full access to the overall supply chain mapping – from materials and equipment suppliers to SSD and DIMM module makers. We develop financial analyses of key worldwide memory players involved in the NAND, DRAM and NOR businesses, as well as in the new Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) technologies.

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AMID TRADE-WAR AND CHIP SHORTAGES, MEMORY INDUSTRY OUTLOOK REMAINS BRIGHT

The largest memory demand segments are mobile and datacenters. The latter is the fastest-growing segment for demand, as new applications and systems will rely intensively on datacenter resources.

While the market is mostly driven by the “Big Five” – Samsung, Kioxia, Western Digital, Micron and SK Hynix – emerging companies from Asia, such as YMTC and CXMT are now entering the race to supply the market.

Memory manufacturers have been ramping up new generations of memory chips, and SSD products were introduced into the market by those leading suppliers.

Emerging NVMs – including PCM, MRAM, ReRAM – are gaining significant momentum. All other stand-alone technologies, namely (NV)SRAM, FRAM, EEPROM, are expected to remain a small part of the memory market.

In a global way, the market for memory within the semiconductor industry is expected to grow to over $250 billion in five years at a CAGR of nearly 9%, making it a major segment of the semiconductor industry.

Key Drivers

MEMORY INTERFACE IS KEY

The processor memory interface is rapidly evolving to meet the demands of emerging data-intensive applications. Memory sizes must increase, as must the bandwidth between memory and CPU.

A variety of new open interfaces and protocols – CXL, Gen Z, OpenCAPI, CCIX – are in the works. Among those, CXL has gained a foothold as a “far memory” interconnect, while the Open Memory Interface (derived from Open CAPI) is rising as a promising interface for “near memory” attachment, complementary to DDR and HBM.

The next evolution of DRAM with DDR5, which should be largely deployed from 2022-2023 on, will offer a boost in performance, trading on the number of DIMM slots available for each DDR channel in the CPU.

As the number of slots shrinks, it becomes more difficult for 3D XPoint and other emerging memory technologies to be attached to the CPU via a DDR interface. One viable option for all players – including Intel – is CXL.

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DEEPLY INGRAINED: EMBEDDED MEMORY

Standalone memory remains the biggest market for memory. But embedded memory is gaining traction in almost all devices, from MCU to APU to sensors. It’s also key to track and understand new technologies and the resulting new approach in embedded memory, as the supply chain and market impact could be overwhelming.