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2021-12-02

Foundry Revenue Rises by 12% QoQ for 3Q21 Thanks to Peak Season, New Production Capacity, and Rising Prices, Says TrendForce

Although the demand for end products related to the stay-at-home economy slowed down as many countries saw rising vaccination rates and were partially lifting social distancing restrictions, the decline in foundry orders from this source was more than offset by the traditional peak season for smartphones, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. At the same time, OEMs for notebook (laptop) computers, networking devices, automotive electronics, and IoT devices kept vigorously building up their inventories because the earlier capacity crunch in the foundry market was constraining them from reaching their shipment targets. Because of these developments, demand continued to outstrip supply in the foundry market during 3Q21. As for foundries, they have been gradually taking on new production capacity in the recent period and gaining from the ongoing rise in the ASP. Thanks to robust demand, new production capacity, and rising wafer prices, the quarterly total foundry revenue rose by 11.8% QoQ to reach a new record high of US$27.28 billion for 3Q21. This result indicated nine consecutive quarters of revenue growth.

Top four foundries posted double-digit revenue growth for 3Q21 due to peak season for smartphones; SMIC’s revenue growth was slightly limited by restrictions imposed on its capacity expansions

TSMC raised its quarterly revenue by 11.9% QoQ to US$14.88 billion as it benefited from the release of new iPhone models. The foundry remained firmly at the top of the ranking in 3Q21. Regarding TSMC’s revenue generation by node, the combined revenue share of the 7nm and 5nm nodes has already surpassed 50% and is still expanding thanks to continued demand for smartphone chips and HPC chips. Samsung raised its revenue by 11% QoQ to US$4.81 billion for 3Q21 and sat firmly in second place. The revenue growth was attributed to several factors. First, the releases of new smartphone models during the second half of the year has spurred the demand for SoCs and DDIs. Second, fab Line S2 in Austin has returned to its normal level of revenue contribution following the recovery from the winter storm that struck Texas in the earlier part of this year. Third, fab Line S5 in Pyeongtaek has activated its newly added production capacity. And finally, the revenue result for 2Q21 was a low base for comparison and thus led to a rather impressive performance for 3Q21.

UMC made significant gains in 3Q21 because the activation of new production capacity for its 28/22nm nodes led to an increase in wafer input for OLED driver ICs and other components. This also caused a rise in its blended ASP. UMC’s revenue went up by 12.2% QoQ to US$2.04 billion for 3Q21. With a growth rate that surpassed the top two ranking leaders, UMC retained third place by overtaking GlobalFoundries in the ranking for the first time in 1Q20, and its lead has been gradually widening since then. GlobalFoundries posted a QoQ increase of 12% in revenue to US$1.71 billion for 3Q21 and kept fourth place in the ranking. To address the worldwide chip shortage, GlobalFoundries has announced a series of capacity expansions and greenfield projects this year. Existing plants including Fab1 in Dresden and Fab8 in Malta (which is a town in the state of New York) will take on new production capacity. New plants will also be built in Singapore and Malta. It is worth noting that the capacity expansions and greenfield projects that GlobalFoundries has revealed so far for this year will be financed via a public-private partnership model. GlobalFoundries will be leveraging funding from governments and advance payments from its clients to reduce the pressure of rising capital expenditure and ensure that the new production capacity will operate at a high utilization rate in the future.

SMIC increased its revenue by 5.3% QoQ to US$1.42 billion for 3Q21 and was ranked fifth. Two reasons were behind the revenue growth. First, there is a stable level of demand for its PMICs, Wi-Fi chips, MCUs, and RFICs. Second, SMIC has been steadily raising wafer prices. It is also worth pointing out that SMIC has been adjusting its product mix and client base due to geopolitical factors. Growing consistently over the quarters, the share of Chinese clients in SMIC’s client base came to almost 70% in 3Q21. Under the impetus of the semiconductor policies of the Chinese government, SMIC will continue to give priority to the demand from domestic clients. Hence, the portion of foreign clients in its incoming orders will gradually shrink relative to that of domestic clients.

Second- and third-tier foundries posted higher revenue growth rates compared with first-tier counterparts because of strong demand for mature nodes

HuaHong Group posted a QoQ increase of 21.4% in revenue to US$799 million for 3Q21, thereby taking sixth place in the ranking. HuaHong continues to raise its ASP as it production capacity is expected to be fully loaded through the whole 2021. This development, together with the successful capacity expansion undertaken at its Fab7 in Wuxi, contributed to the above-expected revenue result for the foundry. PSMC’s revenue growth continued to pick up pace in 3Q21 thanks to the general rise in wafer prices and the robust demand for the main categories of chip products (e.g., DDIs, PMICs, CIS, and power discretes such as MOSFETs and IGBTs). PSMC raised its quarterly revenue by 14.4% QoQ to US$525 million and was ranked seventh.

After surpassing Tower Semiconductor in the ranking for the first time in 2Q21, VIS maintained its strong growth momentum by posting a QoQ increase of 17.5% in revenue to US$426 million in 3Q21 on account of several factors. First, VIS increased its products shipments through capacity expansion. Furthermore, VIS was able to optimize its product mix and raise its ASP. It secured eighth place in the ranking. Occupying ninth place in the ranking, Tower Semiconductor’s performance exceeded expectations for 3Q21 with its revenue climbing 6.9% QoQ to US$387 million. Tower’s revenue generation mainly benefited from the stable demand related to RF-SOI chips, industrial sensor chips, and PMICs.

Taking the tenth place in the ranking, DB HiTek registered a 15.6% QoQ increase in revenue to a record high of US$283 million for 3Q21 because of the rising ASP. In the past year, DB HiTek kept its capacity utilization rate at almost 100%. To raise its overall output, the foundry has decided to focus its expansion efforts on its existing wafer production lines. As a result, its production capacity has been increasing slightly since 2Q21. The additional production capacity will effectively contribute to its revenue generation in 4Q21.

Moving into 4Q21, although foundries have undertaken various capacity expansions and greenfield projects, their new production capacity that has been activated this year is already completely booked. The new fabs that foundries have announced will need some time to get built and fully set up, so the chip shortage on the whole will unlikely ease off anytime soon. On the demand side, sales have weakened a bit for TVs and other end products associated with the stay-at-home economy. However, the hardware and infrastructure demand related to 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and IoT continues to gain momentum. Moreover, OEMs for consumer electronics are still stocking up on components in preparation for the year-end holiday sales. Based on the latest examination of incoming foundry orders, TrendForce finds that foundries will continue to operate at fully-loaded capacity. Due to the undersupply situation, the overall ASP of the foundry market has also been climbing. Meanwhile, foundries have been optimizing their product mixes to boost their financial performances. Taking account of this and other aforementioned developments, TrendForce believes that revenue growth will continue for the top 10 foundries in 4Q21. However, 4Q21 will also see more moderate growth compared with the previous quarter because there is a shortage of peripheral ICs made using mature process nodes. Additionally, demand has slacked a bit for some SoC products.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-12-01

Annual 6-inch SiC Wafer Demand from EV Market Expected to Reach 1.69 Million Units in 2025 as 800V Charging Architecture Nears, Says TrendForce

Owing to the EV market’s substantial demand for longer driving ranges and shorter charging times, automakers’ race towards high-voltage EV platforms has noticeably intensified, with various major automakers gradually releasing models featuring 800V charging architectures, such as the Porsche Taycan, Audi Q6 e-tron, and Hyundai Ioniq 5. According to TrendForce’s latest investigations, demand from the global automotive market for 6-inch SiC wafers is expected to reach 1.69 million units in 2025 thanks to the rising penetration rate of EVs and the trend towards high-voltage 800V EV architecture.

The revolutionary arrival of the 800V EV charging architecture will bring about a total replacement of Si IGBT modules with SiC power devices, which will become a standard component in mainstream EV VFDs (variable frequency drives). As such, major automotive component suppliers generally favor SiC components. In particular, Tier 1 supplier Delphi has already begun mass producing 800V SiC inverters, while others such as BorgWarner, ZF, and Vitesco are also making rapid progress with their respective solutions.

At the moment, EVs have become a core application of SiC power devices. For instance, SiC usage in OBC (on board chargers) and DC-to-DC converters has been relatively mature, whereas the mass production of SiC-based VFDs has yet to reach a large scale. Power semiconductor suppliers including STM, Infineon, Wolfspeed, and Rohm have started collaborating with Tier 1 suppliers and automakers in order to accelerate SiC deployment in automotive applications.

It should be pointed out that the upstream supply of SiC substrate materials will become the primary bottleneck of SiC power device production, since SiC substrates involve complex manufacturing processes, high technical barriers to entry, and slow epitaxial growth. The vast majority of n-Type SiC substrates used for power semiconductor devices are 6 inches in diameter. Although major IDMs such as Wolfspeed have been making good progress in 8-inch SiC wafer development, more time is required for not only raising yield rate, but also transitioning power semiconductor fabs from 6-inch production lines to 8-inch production lines. Hence, 6-inch SiC substrates will likely remain the mainstream for at least five more years. On the other hand, with the EV market undergoing an explosive growth and SiC power devices seeing increased adoption in automotive applications, SiC costs will in turn directly determine the pace of 800V charging architecture deployment in EVs.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-11-30

Smartphone Production Undergoes Modest 5.7% QoQ Increase for 3Q21 Owing to Supply Chain-Related Component Shortages While Recovery to Pre-Pandemic Levels Remains Unlikely, Says TrendForce

The smartphone market is showing an improvement in demand during the second half of this year due to the peak season for e-commerce promotional activities and the easing of COVID-19 outbreaks in regions such as Southeast Asia, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. However, there have been significant shortages of components including 4G SoCs, low-end 5G SoCs, display panel driver ICs, etc. The persistent component gaps are constraining smartphone brands from raising device production for the second half of the year. Looking at 3Q21, the quarterly total smartphone production came to around 325 million units, a 5.7% QoQ increase. Even so, not only does the QoQ increase in smartphone production for 3Q21 fall short of the QoQ increase for the same quarter last year, but the quarterly production volume for 3Q21 also shows a weaker performance result when compared with figures from 3Q20 or from 3Q19, prior to the emergence of the pandemic.

As for the total production for the whole 2021, TrendForce has lowered the projection to 1.335 billion units with a YoY growth rate of 6.5%. The previous projection was 1.345 billion units with a YoY growth rate of 7.3%. This downward correction mainly reflects the impact of the component gaps on device production. Going forward, an important point of observation in the smartphone market is whether the pandemic will further weaken demand. Also, the other significant variables that will influence future smartphone demand include geopolitical tensions, distribution of production capacity in the foundry market, and global inflationary pressure.

While smartphone production for 3Q21 reached about 325 million units, the release of new models helped Apple retake second place in the global ranking

Samsung raised its smartphone production by 17.9% QoQ to 69 million units for 3Q21. The growth was mainly attributed to the stabilization of the capacity utilization rates of its device assembly plants in Vietnam. Samsung continued to top the global ranking of smartphone brands with the largest market share in production terms. Apple released four new iPhone models under the iPhone 13 series in 3Q21. Thanks to their contribution, the total iPhone production for 3Q21 registered a QoQ increase of 22.6% to 51.5 million units. With this result, Apple was also able to climb to second place in the global ranking. In terms of product development, Apple is staying with the plan to release its third-generation iPhone SE in 1Q22 and four models under a new series in 2H22. The third-generation iPhone SE is expected to be a major instrument in helping Apple establish a presence in the market segment for mid-range 5G smartphones. Its production volume for 2022 is forecasted to reach 25-30 million units.

OPPO marginally raised its smartphone production by 3% QoQ to 51 million units for 3Q21, thereby capturing third place in the ranking. Xiaomi held fourth place as its smartphone production for the same quarter fell by 10% QoQ to 44.5 million units. Vivo’s smartphone production for 3Q21 was relatively constant compared with the previous quarter, coming to around 34 million units. With this result, Vivo was ranked fifth. The production figures of these three Chinese brands include devices under their respective sub-brands (i.e., OPPO’s Realme and OnePlus; Xiaomi’s Redmi, POCO, and Black Shark; and Vivo’s iQoo). Looking at the three brands’ production performances in 3Q21, TrendForce notes that there is a high degree of overlap in terms of target market as well as a high degree of similarity in offerings. Hence, their production performances directly hinge on their ability to acquire enough of the components that are now in short supply.

Honor will expand into the overseas markets next year as part of its plan for a comeback

After spending the first half of this year stocking up on components and undergoing business restructuring, Honor is now on a more solid footing and will attain an annual smartphone production of 43.5 million units. In the global ranking of smartphone brands by annual production for 2021, Honor is expected to take eighth place. Also, Honor as an independent brand has obtained access to Google Mobile Services. Therefore, it plans to expand to other markets outside China next year and leverage the sales expertise that it has acquired from Huawei in order gain a bigger share of the overseas markets. Regarding Honor’s sales strategy as a whole, the main focus is still on the domestic market. As for the overseas markets, Honor will continue Huawei’s strategy and avoid India where competition revolves around low pricing. Instead, Honor will attempt to establish itself in regions such as Russia, the wider Europe, and South America. In general, Honor’s rise will likely affect the market shares of the other aforementioned brands. How much market share Honor will gain depends on its ability to have sufficient inventory of components that are now in short supply.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-11-29

Industrial Metaverse Expected to Propel Global Smart Manufacturing Revenue to US$540 Billion by 2025, Says TrendForce

In light of the metaverse’s ability to satisfy the demands of WFH, virtual reality, and simulations, the smart manufacturing industry will also likely capitalize on the rise of the metaverse and undergo an accelerated growth of related technologies, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Global smart manufacturing revenue is expected to increase at a 15.35% CAGR across the 2021-2025 period and surpass US$540 billion in 2025. This growth can primarily be attributed to several factors. First, industrial applications take place in closed environments, and companies that utilize such applications have generally made good progress in terms of digital transformation. Furthermore, by utilizing simulation technologies, companies are able to significantly cut down on their labor costs, project time, and wasted resources. Simulation technologies, if developed as an industry 4.0 application, also serve as the backbone of CPS (cyber-physical systems). TrendForce therefore expects the smart manufacturing industry to be perfectly positioned with innate advantages and motivations as one of the main enablers of the metaverse.

Regarding the diverse mainstream smart manufacturing tools, digital twins, which major adopters believe to be a significant application of industry 4.0, empower the simulation of the physical world through digital data, bridge the virtual world with the real world, and subsequently serve as a key technology shaping the metaverse during its infancy. In particular, Microsoft has included digital twins in its metaverse technology stack due to their ability to generate rich digital models. It should be pointed out that the vast majority of digital twins currently used for industrial applications deliver digital simulations for either a single product or a single production line primarily because the reliability of simulated models requires a database containing sufficient data from the modeled product itself. Some examples of digital twins in action include Boeing utilizing digital twins to build engines, Unilever using simulated production lines to cut down on waste production, and Siemens Energy and Ericsson respectively leveraging Nvidia’s Omniverse platform to operate power plants and perform predictive maintenance as well as simulating equipment allocations for 5G networks.

Digital twin technologies will progress towards wider deployments and deeper operations in response to the rise of the metaverse and to the growing complexity of digital simulation models used for constructing products. Hence, relevant digital twin technologies will also begin to emerge in the market. In terms of width of deployment, digital twins need to model more comprehensive and extensive virtual objects and spaces that form the operating environment in the metaverse in order to achieve better predictive accuracy. Relevant technologies include 5G, WiFi 6, cloud and edge computing, smart sensors, as well as more resilient communication environments/computing platforms, and more diverse sensors. In terms of depth of operation, developments in technologies used for industrial drones, cobots, and machine vision feature improved precision and operability that enable AI-based decisions made in the virtual space to be applicable to decision-making scenarios in the real, physical world.

On the whole, taking into account the rapid development of AR/VR and HMI technologies, as well as other factors including economic outcomes, feasibility of operation, and the overall industrial environment, TrendForce believes that the direction of metaverse-based digital twin application development for industrial purposes will focus on human resource training, remote diagnostics, energy monitoring, and predictive maintenance in the short and medium terms. For instance, Rockwell, Siemens, ABB, Advantech, Ennoconn, and Delta are some of the companies that have made good progress in this area. In the long term, on the other hand, individual companies will likely be able to construct virtual factories in the collaborative industrial metaverse and thereby connect their various factory locations or even engage in cross-industrial collaborations. With regards to long-term applications, then, companies that are competent in industry 4.0 development and possess various lighthouse factories and vast databases will likely to be pioneers in the industry; leading examples include Bosch, Schneider Electric, Haier, and Foxconn.

2021-11-26

Indonesia’s Export Restrictions on Nickel Likely to Intensify Global Shortage of Raw Materials for NEV Batteries, Says TrendForce

As the global automotive industry picks up the pace of electrification, there will be a corresponding increase in the demand for nickel, which is a key ingredient for automotive batteries, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Incidentally, Indonesia has recently made gradual announcements indicating that it intends to terminate the export of such unprocessed ores as nickel, copper, and tin, and this restriction will likely have an impact on the global supply chains in which these materials are used. Indonesia possesses the world’s highest volume of nickel reserves (which refer to the total availability of nickel in the country), at 21 million tonnes, representing more than 20% of the global total. With regards to nickel production (which refers to the actual amount of nickel that is mined), on the other hand, Indonesia accounts for more than 30% of the global total. As such, Indonesia is the primary source of raw materials for NEV (new energy vehicle) batteries manufactured by countries such as China.

TrendForce further indicates that, as a key upstream material for EV battery manufacturing, nickel is primarily used for raising the energy density of NCM batteries. As EV battery development progresses towards increasingly high energy densities, the direction of cathode development has gradually trended towards nickel-rich NCM as the mainstream. Hence, the consumption of nickel in EV battery cathodes has been undergoing a steady growth.

As the volume of NEV sales increases, so has the installation volume of EV batteries. Take the Chinese automotive market as an example; cumulative NEV sales for the January-July period this year surpassed the annual sales volume for 2020. TrendForce expects annual NEV sales in China to surpass 3.3 million units this year (including both heavy and light vehicles), representing an over 140% YoY growth. Likewise, cumulative EV battery installation in China for the January-October period reached 107.5 GWh, a 168.1% YoY increase, while automotive NCM battery installation reached 54.1 GWh, accounting for 50.3% of the total EV battery installation. These figures would suggest that the growth of the NEV market in China has generated a definite increase in the demand for nickel.

TrendForce believes that the NEV market will continue to expand its demand for battery materials, including primarily nickel, for several reasons: First, the penetration rate of NEVs has been rising at an increasingly rapid pace. Second, EV cathode development has been trending towards a nickel-rich composition. Finally, nickel-rich NCM materials are suitable for fulfilling the automotive market’s demand for high energy density batteries. Indonesia’s decision to terminate the export of certain unprocessed ores may not have an impact on the global supply chains in the short run. However, going forward, this decision will likely transform the supply situation of the nickel industry, force battery manufacturers or nickel chloride suppliers to establish facilities in Indonesia, and eventually raise the added value of products related to the Indonesian nickel industry.

Nevertheless, whether the production capacity generated by the establishment of facilities in Indonesia can satisfy the market demand in time will depend on not only the quality of Indonesia’s infrastructures and electricity supply, but also domestic political environments, availability of labor force, and other external factors. Therefore, TrendForce believes that, in the long run, Indonesia’s export restrictions on raw materials will likely exacerbate the shortage of nickel and subsequently of EV batteries, thereby potentially hindering the rapid advancement of the EV industry.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Green Energy Research, please click here, or email Ms. Faye Wang from the Sales Department at fayewang@trendforce.cn

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