The three largest suppliers in the memory market — Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron Technology — held 94% of the DRAM market share in 2021, according to new data from IC Insights.
The boom-and-bust cycle of the DRAM market has effectively run out most players from the market. For example, the DRAM market fell 37% in 2019 but grew 42% in 2021. In the mid-1990s, there were 20 suppliers competing in the DRAM market. Today there are only six.
Samsung was the DRAM leader in 2021 with 44% market share and sales of nearly $41.9 billion. During the year, Samsung became the first to use extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography in mass production of 14 nm DRAM. The company was also able to increase the number of EUV layers from two to five on its 14 nm DDR5 DRAM process.
Late in 2021, Samsung applied its EUV technology to develop a 14 nm 16 Gb low power double data rate 5X (LPDDR5X) DRAM. This memory will specifically be used for applications such as 5G, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other big data end uses.
SK Hynix was second overall in the DRAM market with 39% of the market or $26.6 billion in sales. DRAM accounted for 71% of SK Hynix’s total semiconductor sales. The company also started using EUV lithography for mass production of 8 Gb LPDDR4 DRAM based on its 10 nm process technology.
Third was Micron Technology with sales of $21.9 billion and 23% of global market share. DRAM accounted for 73% of Micron’s total chip sales in 2021. The company has placed orders for EUV equipment and plans to transition to the technology to manufacturing its DRAM starting in 2024.