Global Semiconductor Foundry Market Share: Quarterly

Global Semiconductor Foundry Revenue Share: Q3 2023

Published Date: November 30, 2023

This page shows the quarterly revenue share for the top players in the global semiconductor foundry market from Q1 2022 to Q3 2023.


Global Foundry Market Share (%) Q1
TSMC 54% 56% 59% 59% 59% 57% 59%
Samsung Foundry* 15% 13% 12% 13% 13% 14% 13%
UMC 7% 8% 7% 7% 6% 7% 6%
GlobalFoundries 6% 6% 6% 6% 7% 7% 6%
SMIC 6% 6% 6% 5% 5% 6% 6%
Others 12% 11% 10% 10% 10% 9% 10%

(*) Samsung includes foundry service for its internal logic IC business

This page provides a view on the global foundries revenue share from 2021 till 2023. Here are some highlights from Q3 2023:

  • TSMC recorded sequential growth in revenue in Q3 2023, helped by positive signs of recovery in the PC and smartphone markets, along with early signs of demand stabilization.
  • Automotive and industrial applications underwent inventory corrections in Q3 2023, and we expect the inventory correction period to linger into Q1 2024.
  • AI chip demand was robust in Q3 2023 and will remain strong in Q4 2023, evident from the AI GPU shortage. We believe this trend will extend into 2024.
  • Recovery in advanced nodes is expected to surpass mature nodes in terms of capacity utilization rate. Mature node foundries will face challenges from low utilization rates and increasing price competition going forward.

Read our foundry quarterly report for Q3 2023 here.

For detailed insights on the data, please reach out to us at sales(at) If you are a member of the press, please contact us at press(at) for any media enquiries.

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India’s Promising Semiconductor Manufacturing Trajectory

  • India’s semiconductor market is expected to reach $64 billion by 2026 with the ‘telecom stack’ and industrial applications accounting for two-thirds of the total.
  • India’s Central and State Governments are incentivizing more than 70% of the total cost in setting up a semiconductor manufacturing facility.
  • The Central Government funds 50% of the project and has also earmarked outlays for R&D, skill development and training.

New Delhi, Beijing, Jakarta, London, Boston, Toronto, Taipei, Seoul – May 09, 2023

Invest India, the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency, India Semiconductor Mission (ISM), and Counterpoint Research, recently hosted a series of webinars with key industry speakers to discuss the opportunities in India for establishing a semiconductor manufacturing base and in becoming a key destination for supply chain diversification.

The webinar covered four central topics, namely the semiconductor market across sectors and applications; government programs and incentives for foreign manufacturers; talent availability and initiatives for re-skilling; and the current infrastructural capabilities and support for semiconductor manufacturing.

With India’s semiconductor market expected to balloon to $64 billion by 2026, the country presents a considerable opportunity for global semiconductor manufacturing. India’s semiconductor market was valued at $22.7 billion in 2019, according to a joint report by Counterpoint Research and the India Electronics & Semiconductor Association (IESA). The 2026 forecast is set to be driven by both domestic and export markets with significant demand from the consumer electronics, telecom, IT hardware and industrial sectors. India’s ‘telecom stack’ and industrial applications are expected to account for two-thirds of the total.

India Semiconductor Market Size by Application

India Semiconductor Market Size by Application
Source: Counterpoint Research, IESA

Meanwhile, components leveraging mature technology nodes (28nm and higher) are expected to see significant short-term opportunities as they support India’s growing automotive and industrial sectors.

“In the short term, there is a huge opportunity being driven by domestic demand across applications like sensors, logic chips and analog devices,” said Tarun Pathak, Research Director at Counterpoint.

He also said “Local sourcing is already happening in a significant way. It accounted for around 10% of the overall market in 2022.”

At the global level, the Government of India has committed to being a reliable partner in the semiconductor supply chain, introducing various incentives and programs that facilitate foreign investments across a broad array of sectors.

Mr. Amitesh Kumar Sinha, CEO of ISM and Joint Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, said, “India is committed to becoming a reliable partner in global supply chains and we are working towards that by framing long-term policies, keeping the next 25 years in mind.”

Mr. Sinha further added, “More than 70% of the project costs for semiconductor manufacturing are incentivized by the Central and State Governments in India of which 50% is funded by the Central Government on an upfront basis while the rest is covered by the State Governments.”

The Semicon India Program, which has an outlay of about $10 billion, funds 50% of the semiconductor manufacturing project costs with 2.5% of the budget earmarked for R&D, skill development and training.

Apart from market sizing and fiscal support, the fourth area addressed during the webinar was the existing infrastructural capabilities and the availability of a skilled workforce, materials supply and other parts of the local supply chain.

India’s own fabrication unit, Semiconductor Laboratory (SCL), provided an end-to-end case study emphasizing India’s supply chain’s robustness across utilities, materials and talent.

Dr. Manish Hooda, Head of Technology Development at SCL said, “SCL has been an end-to-end manufacturer for 30 years, providing products for space and railway applications. For the last 15 years, SCL has received uninterrupted power supply and stable, continuous flow of ultra-pure quality water, which highlights India’s readiness to support high-volume manufacturing of semiconductors.”

An edited version of the webinar recording can be found here.


Nupur Yadav

Rohan Thomas Abraham – Sector Lead, ESDM – Invest India

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About Counterpoint Research

Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in TMT. It services major technology and financial firms with data, monthly reports, and detailed analyses of key technology markets.

About Invest India

Invest India is the national investment promotion and facilitation agency of India. The agency’s team of domain and functional experts provide sector- and state-specific inputs, and hand-holding support to investors through the entire investment cycle, from pre-investment analysis and decision making to after care and grievance redressal. Additionally, all facilitation support to investors under the “Make in India” program is provided free of cost by Invest India.

About India Semiconductor Mission (ISM)

India Semiconductor Mission (ISM) is a specialized and independent business division within the Government of India’s Digital India Corporation. The organization aims to build a vibrant semiconductor and display ecosystem in India to facilitate the country’s emergence as a global hub for electronics manufacturing and design. Led by global experts in the semiconductor and display ecosystem, ISM’s mission is to serve as a focal point for the comprehensive, coherent, efficient and smooth deployment of the Program for Development of Semiconductor and Display Ecosystem, in consultation with government ministries/departments/agencies, industry players and academia.

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Guest Post: Will Japan Curbs Hit China Semiconductor Self-reliance Plans?

Joining the US-led effort to restrict chipmaking equipment exports to China, Japan has put in place restrictions that are more draconian than that of the US and where the Japanese state has effectively taken control of the country’s semiconductor capital equipment market.

  • Japan is imposing export restrictions on 23 types of equipment used to make semiconductors. But instead of limiting the restrictions just to China, it has flipped the entire industry on its head.
  • Instead of being able to ship to anyone unless told not to, now the Japanese companies can’t ship to anyone unless they are allowed to.
  • This effectively gives the Japanese trade ministry life and death power over semiconductor equipment, which may prove to be detrimental to the local industry’s health in the long run.
  • Unlike the US Department of Commerce, where the presumption is denial of a license, it seems the Japanese Ministry of Trade will operate under the presumption of granting licenses.
  • Any other mode of operation would be highly detrimental to its own industry.
  • This represents a bigger step than what many analysts were expecting from Japan. It will really hinder China’s ability to manufacture chips at non-leading edge nodes below 20nm.
  • This was the weakness of the new measures announced by the US last October, as at 20nm-10nm, it is possible to build a fab using non-US equipment.
  • However, when you add Japan into the mix, this then becomes virtually impossible and there will be no point in buying machines from ASML, meaning that the combination of the US and Japan represents an effective embargo.
  • This means that China will now have to rely on domestically produced capital equipment which is going to be a real problem.
  • Although Huawei claims to be able to manufacture at 14nm, it did not say whether it could do so at volume with good yields which is what is required for Huawei to be able to use these chips economically in its products.
  • The net result is that Japan’s actions make the US actions far more effective and deal a blow to any workarounds that the Chinese may have found to build fabs without US equipment.
  • This reinforces the view that China is in real trouble when it comes to semiconductors, which will hamper and slow its rise as a technological superpower.
  • That being said, there will be a likely bounce in the Chinese economy in H2 2023, although the lack of action on stimulating the economy remains a cause for concern.
  • If it comes, the rising tide will lift all boats and especially the beleaguered technology sector.

Micron: A display of weakness

  • China’s review of Micron on “national security” grounds is a tit-for-tat retaliation that shows just how weak its hand is in the game of semiconductor brinksmanship.
  • The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has said it would review Micron’s imports into China to ensure that using its products would not compromise the security of its information infrastructure.
  • It seems that this move has nothing to do with national security but is instead an attempt to damage US interests in China without compromising its own technological ambitions.
  • If China was really concerned about “national security”, it would be reviewing many other companies. But a blockade on the import of products from many of these companies would hurt China just as much as the US, if not more.
  • In the case of Micron, China can still buy the same products from South Korea or Japan with no ill effects on its development of technology.
  • This is precisely why Micron has been targeted. It is unlikely that other companies that export chips to China will be targeted as it would do more harm than good.
  • The move is also unlikely to give China much in the way of negotiating leverage and so this will prove to be an isolated incident that is pretty irrelevant to the overall technological and ideological struggle.

(This guest post was written by Richard Windsor, our Research Director at Large.  This first appeared on Radio Free Mobile. All views expressed are Richard’s own.) 

Infographic: Q3 2022 | Semiconductors, Foundry Share and Smartphone AP Share

Infographic: Semiconductors Top 7 in Q3 2022

Samsung again took the #1 place in the quarter, though its semiconductor revenue suffered headwinds on memory business performance, largely due to customers’ inventory adjustments. Intel’s revenue remained flattish compared to the previous quarter, as customers have relatively conservative views on both consumer and commercial markets. Overall, memory players reported soft results on inventory correction. Qualcomm and Broadcom, on the other hand, reported comparatively solid revenues on outperformance in the mobile/IoT and wireless/data center/broadband segments, with the former taking third place in the quarter.

Counterpoint Semiconductor Top 7 Q3 2022

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Infographic: Global Smartphone AP Share in Q3 2022

Global Smartphone AP Share by Shipments

MediaTek dominated the smartphone SoC market with a share of 35%. It leads the low-mid-tier wholesale price segment, driven by the Helio G series and Dimensity 700 series. There was a decline in MediaTek shipments in Q3 2022 compared to the previous quarter due to ongoing customer inventory adjustments, global macroeconomic conditions and weak China market. Qualcomm captured a 29% share in the quarter. The company maintained its position in the premium segment despite tough macroeconomic conditions and declining smartphone market.

Global Smartphone AP Share by Revenue

Qualcomm dominated the AP market in Q3 2022 with a 40% revenue share. Qualcomm’s share grew 29% YoY driven by the higher premium mix, which led to growth in the ASPs. The addition of the Snapdragon 8 Gen1 Plus in premium segments and a long-term agreement with Samsung for premium segment phones has driven the premium tier’s growth.
Apple had a 28% share in the AP SoC market in Q3 2022 in terms of revenue. Apple’s smartphone revenue increased 4 % in Q3 2022 due to the launch of the new iPhone 14 Pro and its variants with the A16 Bionic chip. MediaTek captured a 21% share in the AP market. MediaTek’s revenues declined slightly YoY in Q3 2022 due to order cuts from major Chinese OEMs.

Global Smartphone AP Market Share Q3 2022

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Infographic: Foundry Revenue Share in Q3 2022

Foundry Companies’ Share by Revenue

TSMC was the winner in Q3 2022 by gaining 200-300bps of market share, driven by a significant ramp-up of 4/5nm products including new iPhones AP (A16) and AMD/NVIDIA’s new HPC chips. Samsung’s sales were negatively impacted by the order cuts for Android smartphone SoCs and GPUs. Other foundries, including UMC, GF and SMIC, were relatively stable on both utilization rate and average wafer price during the quarter. Some wafer demand declined sharply, like in the case of DDIC and low-end CIS, lowering the sales on legacy 8-inch foundry vendors.

Foundry Revenue Share by Technology Nodes

5/4nm replaced 7/6nm as the largest technology nodes in Q3 2022 foundry sales, as TSMC contributed over 80% of 5/4nm sales. On the other hand, we observed the weakness of 7/6nm due
to slowing mid-end smartphone and discrete GPU (dGPU) sell-through in the supply chain as the inventory correction cycle seemed just in the beginning. For matured nodes, demand on 22/28nm stayed solid due to increasing new applications/new products, including wireless, MCU and driver ICs.

Counterpoint Foundry Share Q3 2022

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STMicro Q2 2022 Net Revenue up 28.3% YoY Driven by Increase in Semi Content, Automotive Demand

Net revenue grew 28.3% YoY as the company recorded decent growth in all product groups and subgroups. Gross margin of 47.4% came in above the norm due to favorable pricing and improved product mix.

STMicro recorded net revenues of $3.84 billion for Q2 2022, primarily driven by the strong demand from factory automation, robotics and industrial infrastructure and automotive sectors.

STMicro is teaming up with 20+ car makers in power train electrification using its silicon carbide (SiC) MOSFET. Automotive market continued to see strong demand in Q2, with the ongoing electrification and digitalization transformation across the supply chain and automotive industry.

STMicro Q2 2022 Net Revenue up 28.3% YoY Driven by Increase in Semi Content, Automotive Demand

  • Automotive: Strong demand was seen in Q2 across the automotive supply chain due to the ongoing electrification and digitalization of the industry. Between the automotive and industrial markets, STMicro has around 102 projects spread over 77 customers. Multiple wins have been recorded in silicon carbide (SiC), power module and other electrical vehicle-related applications for Tier 1 automotive manufacturers. The Volkswagen Trinity project is a collaborative effort between Volkswagen Group and STMicro that aims to address multiple applications with new zonal architectures by adding an MCU and system-on-chip.
  • Industrial: This sector has seen a tremendous increase in semiconductor content due to the increase in digitalization, power management and efficiency in devices and systems. Design wins have been seen in intelligent power switches, MOSFETs and wireless charging solutions.
  • Consumer electronics and PC: This segment has shown some signs of softening. STMicro is focusing on selected high-volume smartphone applications and multiple design wins for wireless charging solutions in smartphones and smartwatches. Some of the consumer application design wins include a pressure sensor for hard disks, time-of-flight senses for laptops, and MasterGaN family for high-power-density charging adapters.

Segment revenues

  • Automotive and Discrete Group (ADG) revenues increased 35.1% on growth in both automotive and power discrete. ADG has seen increased capability in manufacturing.
  • Analog, MEMS and Sensors group (AMS) revenues grew 11.3% on higher analog, MEMS and imaging product sales.
  • Microcontrollers and Digital ICs Group (MDG) revenues increased 39.5% on growth in both microcontrollers and RF communications.

Company forecast

  • Revenues: Q3 2022 net revenues will be around $4.24 billion at mid-point, growing 32.6% YoY and 10.5% QoQ. Also, for the full year of 2022, revenues are expected to be in the range of $15.9 billion-$16.2 billion, driven by the strong demand in ADG. ADG and MDG will register growth, but AMS will be affected by tight capacity.
  • Demand and supply: Strong customer demand and planned investments will increase capacity in 2022. Manufacturing capacity for some products is fully saturated by the strong demand from factory automation, robotics and industrial infrastructure and automotive sectors. Backlog visibility is now above 18 months and well above the company’s current and planned manufacturing capacity through 2023.
  • Capex and investment: Capex in Q2 2022 was $809 million compared to $438 million in Q2 2021. For 2022, capex investment is expected to be in the range of $3.4 billion-$3.6 billion. Financial support from France for the 300-mm wafer fab in Crolles will result in a high-volume manufacturing plant ranging from 90nm to 28nm and covering embedded non-volatile memory, RF mixed signal and other technologies.

Key takeaways

  • In the long term, the 300-mm semiconductor manufacturing facility will be a major enabler for ST’s $20-billion-plus revenue ambition. The new fab in Italy will ramp up the production of SiC and GaN products in H1 2023.
  • High-volume applications such as smartphones, communication equipment, computers and 5G infrastructure products have resulted in an increase in semiconductor content per device. In the long term, power-related semiconductor and analog content will further increase as more and more people are embracing EVs and 5G-related equipment.
  • STMicro continues to drive design wins for car electrification, and with the increase in the use of silicon carbide, the revenue target is expected to reach $1 billion by 2023.
  • STMicro’s major growth driver in 2023 will be the automotive segment through the company’s alliance with Volkswagen Group.

Mobile Demand Raises DRAM Revenue by 30% YoY to $19 bn in Q1 2021

London, Hong Kong, Boston, Toronto, New Delhi, Beijing, Taipei, Seoul – Jun 25, 2021

Global DRAM revenues rose to $19 billion in Q1 2021, increasing by a solid 30% YoY and 9% QoQ. Distance education and work from home (WFH) continued propelling a substantial demand for smartphone and laptop DRAM, resulting in a 6% growth in bit shipment and a 3% rise in ASP over the previous quarter.

Counterpoint Research DRAM Revenue Rankings, Q1 2021

Associate Director Brady Wang said the Chinese handset makers stepped up their smartphone shipments in the first quarter, intending to gain shares from the beleaguered Huawei. In addition, the high-density LPDDR4x memory prices softened in H2 2020, increasing smartphone DRAM content and making 6GB the minimum standard for mid- to high-end smartphones since 2021. As a result, the average DRAM capacity in smartphones clocked at 5.3GB in Q1 2021, rising impressively by around 21% YoY and 7% QoQ. Similarly, servers experienced recovery in demand, and the adoption of a new data-center CPU bumped up server content per box. Therefore, the server segment’s DRAM demand rose as well. 

According to Wang, DRAM is already an oligopolistic market with an Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) of 3,138. A significant capacity expansion by any player will soon turn around market status and reduce the overall profitability. Therefore, this year, all three major players will spend most of their resources in migrating to advanced nodes, a process that is bound to reduce production capacity. In addition, transportation and component shortage concerns will force device vendors to place orders earlier than usual. When coupled with the growing demand for personal computers, games and servers, these factors signal the possibility of the DRAM market turning to a shortage this year. The smartphone market is recovering at present, but its cost sensitivity means that a DRAM price spike may put the brakes on smartphone DRAM content growth.

Counterpoint Research Global DRAM Market, Q1 2021Competitive Landscape

The DRAM industry is dominated by three major players that collectively account for about 95% of the market’s bit shipments and revenue.

Samsung Electronics

With $7.9 billion in revenue, Samsung led the DRAM market in Q1 2021. The South Korean semiconductor giant continued commanding over two-fifths of the DRAM market revenue, overshadowing its nearest competitor by over 41%. Samsung’s DRAM bit shipment growth came from actively responding to the (i) 5G-related surge in smartphone demand, (ii) rising server demands for data centers and (iii) rise of home entertainment culture that increased memory content in TVs and STBs to support 4K UHD content and streaming.

Research Associate Siddharth Bhatla sees 1Z nm or 15 nm as Samsung’s most advanced mass-produced DRAM node from the technology perspective. The company’s plans include beginning mass production of 14 nm node in H2 2021. Samsung aims to differentiate its DRAM offerings using multi-layer EUV on its 14 nm node, building upon the single-layer EUV in its current 15 nm node.

SK hynix

Ranking second, SK hynix accounted for over 29% of the DRAM industry’s Q1 2021 revenues. Surpassing Micron by over 25%, its revenues rose by over 28% YoY in that period, in line with the industry’s overall growth. In addition, the company’s bit shipments rose 4% QoQ, thanks to its ability to actively cater to the surging demand for mobile and PC memory. By the year-end, SK hynix aims to (i) ramp up the production of its 1Z nm DRAM and (ii) complete development and begin mass production of its 1α-EUV node.

Micron Technology

Micron achieved a 44% YoY jump in its DRAM revenue in Q1 2021, continuing to grow fastest among the big three since the preceding two quarters. Micron was the first among the big three to begin mass production of 1α DRAM, accounting for one-fourth of the industry’s DRAM revenue. However, Micron’s 1α node is based on DUV, an older technology that may face severe cost competition once the EUV-based 1α DRAMs reach the mass market.

Feel free to contact us at press(at) for questions regarding our in-depth research and insights, or for press enquiries.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

Brady Wang

Siddharth Bhatla

Counterpoint Research

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NAND Flash Recovery Begins on Rising Demand and Supply

London, Hong Kong, Boston, Toronto, New Delhi, Beijing, Taipei, Seoul – June 8, 2021

  • In the first quarter of 2021, the NAND flash memory market rebounded by 4.6% QoQ to $15.3 billion, while bit shipment increased by 12%.
  • Leading manufacturers are developing new NAND flash with additional layers to lower bit density and increase manufacturing efficiency. In the first quarter of 2021, the bit shipment growth for the layers 64 to 130 climbed by over 20%.
  • Samsung dominated the NAND market revenue share, SK hynix achieved the highest QoQ growth in revenues, and Micron led the industry in the volume production of 176-layer NAND flash. 

Global NAND flash revenues increased 4.6% in Q1 2021 to $15.3 billion over the previous quarter. Distance education and remote working propelled the demand for notebook SSDs, which helped the big players in offsetting the reduced NAND flash demand from the server and data center market.

Associate Director Brady Wang said the continued expansion of smartphone storage capacities, particularly by the Chinese OEMs, created an unusual scenario for NAND flash usage. The average capacity of smartphones climbed 6% in Q1 2020, according to Counterpoint data. As a result, contract prices for NAND flash fell by 4-7% in Q1 2021, which is much lower than the 7-11% drop in Q4 2020. The decrease eased in late Q1 2021. In the same period, NAND flash spot prices fell 1-3% but started increasing by that quarter’s end.

Wang added that in Q1 2021, memory vendors were in full force migrating to more layers. Bit shipment increased 12% QoQ, while overall ASP decreased 6% in the same period. In terms of layers, the ratio of bit shipment for the layers 64 to 130 increased from 52% in Q1 2020 to 81% in Q1 2021. This increase in layer count allowed an annual reduction in NAND costs by an average of 20%, which however is less than the historical 30%. Ideally, NAND flash can reach more than 500 layers. However, in reality, the NAND flash production starts encountering several challenges after 100 layers, like a high aspect ratio and long manufacturing time. As a result, vendors adopt Core Over Periphery (COP)/Circuit Under Array (CUA) to reposition the logic circuit to below the memory cell. Doing so allows them to increase the number of net per wafer. Also, double stacking can help increase the number of layers quickly but may result in higher costs due to lower yields.

On the handset side, key NAND flash players are proactively marketing the high-density uMCPs at advantageous costs. Chinese smartphone MCP densities rose from 8GB/128GB to 12GB/256GB over the previous quarter.

Competitive Landscape

Currently, the NAND flash industry is dominated by six major players. This landscape is likely to undergo a major rejig in the near term, given the ongoing acquisition of Intel’s non-volatile memory solution unit by SK hynix.


Samsung led the NAND market in Q1 2021 with $5.1 billion in revenues, overshadowing its nearest competitor by over 80%. The South Korean electronics giant continued accounting for over one-third of the NAND market revenue for the fifth consecutive quarter. The weakness in US dollar against the Korean Won worked out negatively for the company’s component business, but it was fully compensated by its end-user product business.

Samsung is migrating to the 128-layer 6th generation V-NAND, aiming to use this technology in the near term for driving its bit growth and cost competitiveness. Samsung’s single-stack process in the 128-layer 6th generation V-NAND allows it to have lower costs than competitors which use a double stack. However, the company will adopt its 7th generation V-NAND, a double stack-based 176-layer memory, later this year to reinforce its technological competitiveness at the cost of decreasing profit margin. 

SK hynix

SK hynix’s revenues from NAND achieved a good 12% QoQ growth in Q1 2021 despite enduring a 7% drop in its ASP. This stellar performance stems from (i) the sales growth of its high-density smartphone memory products, and (ii) enhanced cost competitiveness of the company’s major products powered by yield improvements.

Research Associate Siddharth Bhatla said SK hynix achieved a bit shipment growth of a whopping 21% in Q1 2021, which was over double of the same for WDC and Samsung. The company expects the NAND market’s bit demand growth to be in mid-30% over 2021, which it plans to cater proactively in this year’s second half. By this year-end, the company plans to raise its NAND product mix of 128-layer to 80% and begin the mass production of 176-layer node.


Ranking third in revenue, WDC is the only NAND flash manufacturer that also makes HDDs. The company’s portfolio in laptop SSDs helped it benefit from the surge in PC demand, resulting in an 8% increase in its QoQ bit shipments in this quarter. The company’s diversified end-market portfolio in client devices and solution experienced a revenue growth of 10% and 8% respectively, balancing its 20% revenue decline in the data center market.


Micron is leading the NAND industry’s 176-layer node, having begun its volume production during the past quarter, which is ramping up considerably over time. Micron plans to make this node the company’s workhorse for 2022, augmenting the company’s bit growth and long-term cost reduction strategy. The company is focusing on increasing the mix of QLC NAND in its product portfolio. This technology’s cost-effectiveness is driving the transition of the compute memory industry from HDDs to SSDs.

Micron has positioned itself to capitalize on the booming demand for non-volatile memory products, which is created by the increased adoption of AI and 5G around the world’s data centers, intelligent edge and user devices.

Feel free to contact us at press(at) for questions regarding our in-depth research and insights, or for press enquiries.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

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Brady Wang

Siddharth Bhatla

Counterpoint Research

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Smartphones Beat DRAM Drum to Meet Performance Demand

Smartphones are getting more performant with each passing day, thanks to the confluence of user demands and technological advancements. One of their key components is DRAM, a high-speed-low-latency memory module that serves as a temporary memory for an application processor (AP). Commonly known as RAM, DRAM stores the OS and running applications’ working data. A larger DRAM enhances a phone’s capability to host more applications simultaneously, enabling users to switch between apps seamlessly without needing to reload them back from the flash.

Like every other smartphone component, DRAM has improved over time in several aspects: capacity, speed and affordability. On average, smartphone DRAM capacity has risen consistently over time. Several reasons can explain this phenomenon: (i) Intense megapixel race in cameras, (ii) Surging performance needs of big apps and games, and (iii) Increasing prevalence of multi-tasking and high-resolution-high-framerate displays. Users now expect razor-sharp photography, high framerate gameplay, and the capability to drive large applications parallelly without any lag.

Currently, the DRAM sizes embedded in smartphones vary greatly, starting from 2GB for the low-cost segment to 18GB for the flagship models. Every two in five smartphones sold in 2020 had 4-6GB DRAM. Therefore, most phones of the day support moderate gameplay along with some degree of multi-tasking. Even though it may seem so, more DRAM is not always merrier. Bigger DRAM consumes more power irrespective of whether it is fully or partially used. So, smaller DRAM is favourable for budget phones from the battery and cost perspective.

Android needs more DRAM than iOS

According to our Mobile Handset Sell-through Tracker, the global average DRAM capacity almost reached the 5GB mark in Q4 2020, touching 4.5GB and 5GB for iOS and Android smartphones respectively, and growing 22% YoY in 2020 overall. The Android smartphones’ average DRAM sustained stable growth in 2019-2020, while the iOS segment had it relatively uneven. For the latter, high growth phases primarily centre around the new iPhone releases, scheduled in the fourth quarter every year.

The Android segment’s growth faced a slump during Q2 2020-Q4 2020 due to the bearish market following COVID-19. For the iOS camp, the release of iPhone 11/Pro/Max and iPhone 12 Pro/Max resulted in a steep rise in Apple’s memory numbers, owing to their 4GB and 6GB DRAMs respectively.

Overall, the DRAM content for iPhones was consistently dwarfed by the other brand families in this list. This disparity stems from the far more efficient memory management approach that iPhones employ. The iOS uses reference counting, a mechanism that needs much lower working memory than Android’s garbage collection approach. Also, iPhone’s higher bandwidth NAND flash reduces the time required to reload data from storage. Therefore, iPhones can typically rely more on flash storage to cope with DRAM overflow compared to their Android counterparts. As per our Component Price Tracker, a significant drop in DRAM prices facilitated the smartphone OEMs’ transition to larger memory units in 2019-2020. The LPDDR4x DRAM prices tumbled by over 20% in the H2 2019-H2 2020 period. By the end of this period, 6GB emerged as the DRAM size variant with the minimum cost per GB.

DRAM Size Ranking by Brand Family

According to our Smartphone DRAM Status Update for Q4 2020, bigger average DRAM numbers signal a greater proportion of high-end phones in a brand’s portfolio, especially in the Android segment. This section compares the growth in DRAM capacities of the top six best-selling smartphone brand families during Q1 2019-Q4 2020.

Apple recorded the highest DRAM growth numbers, followed by Huawei and Samsung. The DRAM content for the bottom three brands grew half as fast as the ones on the top. Early adoption of larger DRAM units justified the lower growth for smartphones under the OPPO and vivo umbrella. The same was the case with Xiaomi’s cash-cow sub-brand Redmi that focuses on the budget segment.

Over half of Huawei’s top three best-selling phones – P30, P30 Lite and P30 Pro – were sold in 8GB variants, while the 6GB variants accounted for another one-third. Among Apple’s top three best-selling model families – iPhone 11, iPhone XR and iPhone 11 Pro Max, the 4GB RAM variants made up for 70% of sales while the 3GB ones took the remaining 30%. Other notable OEMs in this aspect were Black Shark, OnePlus and Razer with their 8.5GB, 8.4GB and 8GB average RAM densities respectively.

Our quarterly report on smartphone DRAM presents a more profound analysis in this direction, featuring (i) quarter-wise DRAM numbers and personalised insights for major smartphone OEMs, (ii) change in market share of smartphone DRAM densities and (iii) correlation heatmap for the primary camera and DRAM capacity.


Growing affordability of LPDDR4x memory, rising user expectations and ballooning memory footprints of modern apps have played a crucial role in driving up smartphone DRAM sizes over time. The increasing prevalence of multi-tasking can certainly inflate the users’ memory needs.

Users invest in large DRAMs, hoping to future-proof their phones. But little are they aware of the raised power consumption of these large memory units — as smartphones in the present need just 4GB DRAM for optimal performance. On the other hand, the gaming-oriented ones need a minimum of 8GB DRAM for smooth multi-tasking alongside heavy gaming. The smartphone DRAM of the budget segment should see good growth in the near term, and it will be interesting to see how far up the premium segment pushes the DRAM capacities.

Counterpoint Recommended Reading

Average Smartphone NAND Flash Capacity Crossed 100GB in 2020

NAND flash capacity has emerged as one of the most important considerations for consumers while purchasing a new smartphone. The advancements in cameras, Application Processors (APs) and displays have stimulated increased storage demand for videos, images and other multimedia applications. Consequently, NAND capacity has shown significant growth in smartphones.

According to Counterpoint’s latest report on smartphone memory, the average smartphone NAND flash capacity crossed the 100GB mark in 2020 for the first time. However, it differs in iOS and Android phones. In iOS phones, the average NAND capacity reached 140.9GB in Q4 2020, compared to 95.7GB in Android phones during the same period. But this gap is narrowing. It is evident from the graph below that the average capacity of Android has been increasing rapidly in the past few years. The average capacity in 2020 grew 5.6% and 20.5% for iOS and Android phones, respectively.

Exhibit 1: Global Average Smartphone NAND Flash Capacity by iOS and Android

Counterpoint Research Global Average Smartphone NAND Flash Capacity by iOS and Android

The data indicates that Apple did not push the boundaries of its storage size and chose to stick to 512GB NAND, its highest storage capacity which has been there since 2018. On the other hand, the biggest Android OEM, Samsung, looked to maximize its storage capacity and launched the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus in 2019 with 1TB NAND. All this resulted in a lower storage growth rate for iOS compared to Android in 2020.

According to our Q1 2019-Q4 2020 mobile handset sell-through tracker, NAND flash in smartphones grew by 20.3% on average, from 80.7GB in 2019 to 97.11GB in 2020. However, iOS saw a 5.6% increase in 2020, much lower than the 20.5% growth in non-iOS devices. The difference in average capacity between iOS and non-iOS devices continues to decrease. The gap between the two groups was approximately 45.2GB in Q4 2020, down from 56.8GB in Q4 2019.

Although NAND price continued to fall during 2019-2020, the share of sales of high-capacity models (256GB and 512GB) for iOS did not grow during the same period. The share of high capacity in Q4 2020 was about 21.5%, even lower than the 27.2% in Q4 2019. The average capacity of iOS has reached nearly 130GB. 128-256GB is high enough for the average consumer to use during the iPhone usage cycle. The demand for 512GB iPhone was around 3.7% in Q4 2020.

We also observe a similar situation for high capacity (256GB+512GB+1,024GB) in non-iOS smartphones. The proportion of high capacity was around 7.5% in Q4 2020, only slightly higher than the 6.3% in Q4 2019. However, the proportion of 128GB for non-iOS smartphones increased from 26.2% in Q4 2019 to 39.0% in Q4 2020, showing that 128GB was the minimum standard for mid-range and high-end phones.


For the details, please check the report on our website.

Smartphones Memory Historical data and Forecast, Worldwide Demand, 2018-2024


This forecast provides detailed statistical data for DRAM and NAND flash for smartphones by density, segment and network in the short and long terms.

Table of Contents:

  • Historical NAND Flash Units Sell-through by Smartphone Segment (Q1 2019 – Q4 2020)
  • Historical NAND Flash Units Sell-through by Smartphone Network (5G, 4G, Others)
  • Historical NAND Flash Units Sell-through by Smartphone Density
  • Historical NAND Flash Units Sell-through by Smartphone Density
  • Forecast Memory Units Shipment in Annual Base (2018-2024)
  • Charts
  • Global average smartphone NAND flash capacity trends (GBs), 2014-2020

Author: Brady Wang
Number of Pages: 33
Published Date: March 2021

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