Hynix Semiconductor Inc.'s remarkable performance in the lucrative memory market for DRAM surpassed all but one of its rivals, as it rose to take second place in market share growth and revenue in the fourth quarter, and all of 2006.

The South Korea-based firm saw DRAM shipments surge by 31 percent in the fourth quarter over the third quarter, iSuppli reported on Friday. In comparison, the firm said worldwide DRAM bit shipments for all companies increased by just 14 percent during the same period.

Hynix’s success was due to its aggressive migration to 80 nanometer process technology and its fast ramp up of its Wuxi fab in China, said Nam Hyung Kim, director and principal analyst for iSuppli.

This dramatic increase in shipments caused the company's revenue to surge to $2.1 billion in the fourth quarter, up 42.9 percent from $1.4 billion in the third quarter, iSuppli said.

This was the highest rate of revenue increase among all DRAM suppliers in the fourth quarter, with the next-fastest grower—Elpida Memory Inc. of Japan—seeing a rise of only 28 percent.

Hynix's share of global DRAM revenue increased to 19.2 percent in the fourth quarter, up from 15.8 percent in the third quarter. This propelled Hynix past Qimonda AG to take the second place in DRAM for the quarter.

Hynix’s fourth quarter also pushed the company into the second place DRAM rank for the entire year. The company accounted for a 16.6 percent share of DRAM revenue for all of 2006, putting it behind only market leader Samsung Electronics in the global DRAM business.

DRAM is temporary memory used inside of computers and consumer electronics to hold data and instructions. It is critical for nearly all computing platforms today. The DRAM industry was one of the most profitable segments of the semiconductor industry in 2006, with operating margins as high as 45 percent.