Escalating trade tensions between the US and China, rising geopolitical issues, increased tariffs, and uncertainties stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic’s emergence last year have compelled server ODMs to actively shift their operations closer to clients as well as engage in risk mitigation strategies, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Taiwanese ODMs, in particular, are shifting their production bases away from domestic China and accelerating the installation of additional overseas production lines. TrendForce expects the share of servers manufactured in domestic China by global server ODMs to undergo a 7% YoY decrease this year as these ODMs shift their production bases mainly to Taiwan. Furthermore, Taiwanese ODMs are expected to account for about 90% of total server production this year.
On the other hand, server assembly operations, which are closely related to motherboard manufacturing operations, are also dynamically reserving their L6 capacities. Server assembly facilities located in New Mexico and the Czech Republic are gradually installing new production lines for server motherboards there. Inventec, Wistron (including Wiwynn), and Foxconn all currently possess sufficient motherboard manufacturing capacities for allocation as needed.
While future changes in the overall server supply chain remains to be seen, it should be pointed out that the migration of production bases pertaining to US companies is of particular importance. For instance, North American CSPs have requested their server ODM partners to migrate L6 assembly lines to locations such as Taiwan and Southeast Asia in response to potential geopolitical factors going forward. However, servers to be shipped to non-US regions will still be manufactured in China in accordance with prior plans. Aside from Google and Facebook, both of which have production lines in Taiwan, AWS and Microsoft have also transitioned their production lines to Taiwan.
Regarding major server ODMs’ current progress, most of them have installed new production lines in Taiwan, with Inventec, Wistron, Quanta, and Foxconn making the most headway. For instance, after installing three additional production lines in Guishan, Taoyuan at the end of 2020, Inventec currently operate a total of eight production lines, while Wistron has not only installed several spare production lines in the Southern Taiwan Science Park, but also planned to expand production bases in Southeast Asia at the end of 2021 for capacity allocation purposes. Quanta is aiming to capitalize on demand from 5G-related applications and data center build-outs by continually adjusting its production capacity for motherboards in Taiwan and Thailand. Finally, by expanding the physical capacity of its Taoyuan facility, Foxconn is able to avoid incurring tariffs for its North American clients’ L6 assembly operations.