The global semiconductor market grew a healthy 11 per cent in 2006, thanks to an upsurge in demand for DRam memory.
Analyst Gartner noted that revenues for the sector topped $261bn and Intel held the top spot for the 15th straight year, despite a 9.5 per cent fall in its own revenues.
In 2006, Intel’s share fell from 14.7 per cent to 12 per cent while AMD entered the top 10 in ninth place with a 2.9 per cent market share.
DRam was the shining star of the sector this year though, according to Gartner and other analysts.
Jeremy Donovan, research director at Gartner, said: “Strong growth in DRam picked up in 2006 where Nand Flash left off the year before. Outside of DRam, wireless semiconductor sales once again drove strong performance in the industry.”
Samsung Electronics continued to gain share in second place, albeit marginally, from 7.8 per last year to 7.9 per cent for 2006.
Among the top 10, Elpida was the strongest performer with the highest relative industry performance index, which measures the difference between industry-specific growth for a company and actual growth. Gartner said that Elpida outgrew its market by 45.3 per cent.
“During the past two years, Elpida has increased its DRam market share by adding huge amounts of capacity internally and through foundry partners, Powerchip Semiconductor and SMIC,” Donovan added. “This market share gain was made easier because major DRam vendors, such as Samsung and Hynix, focused on higher-bit-growth Nand Flash market.”
Elpida is hoping to drive that growth even further with news that it has signed an agreement with Powerchip to build some massive DRam production facilities in Taiwan. Initial investment will top £630m and the new plants will be capable of producing 240,000 12in wafers per month.
Yukio Sakamoto, chief executive of Elpida, said: “Now is the time for us to become the number-one player in the DRam industry. We have decided to do so because we have gained credibility for our advanced double data rate 2 SDRam, backed up by high productivity at our E300 fab in Hiroshima. We are confident in our 70nm process technology, soon to be in mass production in our E300 fab.”
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