Industry trend & Price trend
IT panel industry is expected to see a peak season in the second half of the year. Indicators such as channel inventory and brand inventory have improved from the slump last year, and a rebound in demand can be expected in the second half of the year. However, commercial IT panels are being purchased quite cautiously due to high inflation and economic uncertainties, while consumer IT panels can be expected to perform better.
In the display sector, there has been an observed increase in prices for gaming monitors, but it is unlikely to see a large-scale replenishment like in the TV market due to sufficient supply of IT panels and increasing production capacity in China. There is limited room for a significant price increase, but consumer displays may experience a small rebound, unlike commercial displays.
As for TVs, it is expected that the cost of production will surpass cash cost in May and June, leading panel manufacturers to increase their production rates. The extent of this increase will be crucial, as it could potentially drive panel prices higher or stall the price increase altogether. Production increase poses a significant uncertainty for supply and price hikes, with the third quarter remaining a key period that will depend on demand. If China returns to cash levels, higher production rates could be a potential risk.
According to TrendForce, global panel manufacturers had a production capacity utilization rate of around 67%-68% in the first quarter, which is expected to increase to 73%-74% in the second quarter. The third quarter is conservatively estimated to reach utilization rate of nearly 80%.
China Dominates the LCD Market
As Samsung and LG Display gradually withdraw from the LCD market, Chinese panel manufacturers continue to expand their market share. This year, the global shipment volume for TV panels is expected to reach 70% market share.
The impact on display panel production in China caused by the ongoing power outage has been manageable, although assembly plants in the downstream supply chain and component makers（for metal and plastic parts, for example）in the upstream supply chain have had to suspend operations as a result. Nevertheless, assuming these work stoppages conclude by the end of September, the aforementioned companies in the downstream/upstream supply chains will likely be able to make up for their lost production capacities by issuing overtime work. Hence, the power outage’s impact on their operations is ultimately expected to be rather limited.
In addition, it appears that the power outage will NOT affect the installation of new production capacities at all. However, given that power outages have continually taken place in cities including Guangzhou and Suzhou, attention needs to be paid to whether such power outages become a regular, cyclical occurrence for various cities in the future, especially without prior warning. Frequent, unannounced power outages may pose a challenge to panel manufacturers’ capacity allocation efforts.
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Given the forecasted recovery of the smartphone market and the corresponding rise in TDDI IC demand throughout this year, total smartphone TDDI IC shipment for 2021 is expected to reach 760 million units, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Tablet TDDI IC shipment for 2021, on the other hand, is expected to reach 95 million units.
TrendForce indicates that the overall demand for consumer electronics and IT products has been gradually intensifying since the COVID-19 pandemic began to slow down in 2H20. At the same time, smartphone manufacturers restocked their component inventories, while Huawei was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Commerce. These events marked an upturn in demand for smartphone components, including IC products. However, although foundries ramped up their capacity utilization rates in response to soaring end-product demand, semiconductor component supply has been lagging behind the rising demand.
Case in point, TDDI IC prices have been increasing due to the component’s tightening supply. As foundries’ production capacities at their 12-inch fabs’ 80/90nm nodes are unable to meet the global demand for TDDI ICs, IC design companies have been stepping up the pace to transition the manufacturing process of their higher-end TDDI IC products from the 80/90nm nodes to the 55nm node instead. Smartphone and tablet manufacturers, on the other hand, have expanded their procurement activities for TDDI ICs owing to a forecasted shortage of these components. These factors propelled smartphone TDDI IC shipment for 2020 to 700 million units, a 25% increase YoY.
Tablet TDDI IC shipment for 2021 is projected to reach 95 million units as the tablet market becomes the next battleground for IC design companies
Smartphone manufacturers have been ramping up TDDI IC adoption in light of smartphone TDDI ICs’ increasing maturity. In addition, as 8-inch capacities become fully loaded across the foundry industry, IC design companies are accelerating the transition of traditional discrete DDIC architecture to TDDI IC, which is primarily manufactured with 12-inch wafers. This transition is expected to result in even higher demand for foundry capacities. As previously mentioned, wafer capacities at the 80/90nm nodes have been in severe shortage. Therefore, to mitigate the risk of tight wafer supply in 2020, IC design companies are now not only transitioning their TDDI IC manufacturing process towards the 55nm node, but also looking to secure a stable supply of wafer capacities by outsourcing their manufacturing operations across a diverse number of foundries. As smartphone demand rises going forward, smartphone TDDI IC shipment for 2021 is expected to reach 760 million units, an 8.6% increase YoY.
Likewise, IC design companies have also turned their attention to the budding tablet market and started releasing TDDI ICs for tablets. IC design companies are primarily interested in developing TDDI ICs for tablets for two reasons: First, a mid-range or high-end tablet contains double the number of TDDI ICs per unit compared to smartphones. Secondly, most of these tablets feature active stylus compatibility, which means the ASP for their display ICs is relatively high. For the past two years, Huawei in particular has been ambitious in cultivating its tablet market and developing TDDI ICs. However, other IC design companies are now following suit and participating in this market as IC design technologies become more mature, and more tablet manufacturers become proactive in adopting TDDI ICs for tablet use. Tablet TDDI IC shipment for 2020 is estimated at 65 million units, whereas this number is projected to reach 95 million for 2021, an impressive 46.2% increase YoY.
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