NAND Flash suppliers’ Clients in the data center segment were gradually stepping up enterprise SSD procurement after finishing inventory adjustments, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Moreover, the adoption rate of 4/8TB products in the enterprise SSD market increased substantially on account of the releases and adoption of the new server processor platforms from Intel and AMD. Although the recent wave of COVID-19 outbreaks that struck Southeast Asia weakened smartphone sales in 2Q21, the quarterly total NAND Flash bit shipments rose by nearly 9% QoQ, as PC OEMs still had plenty of component orders in 2Q21 due to the fairly robust notebook demand during the period. On the other hand, the shortage of controller ICs became more severe during the period, and the winter storm that battered Texas this February affected the operation of Samsung’s foundry fab Line S2 in Austin. As demand for NAND Flash products rose, the overall ASP also rose by nearly 7% QoQ, and the quarterly total NAND Flash revenue rose by 10.8% QoQ to US$16.4 billion in 2Q21.
Moving into 3Q21, clients in the data center segment will gradually become the main growth driver as they expand procurement of high-density enterprise SSDs. Furthermore, notebook demand is expected to remain at a fairly high level in 3Q21, thereby sustaining NAND Flash demand bit growth and the ongoing rise in contract prices of NAND Flash products. Hence, TrendForce currently forecasts that the quarterly total NAND Flash revenue will not only again register a QoQ increase but also hit a record high for 3Q21.
For 2Q21, Samsung’s bit shipments grew by around 8% QoQ thanks to the strong demand from PC OEMs and hyperscalers aggressively building up their enterprise SSD inventories. The energetic stock-up activities and the shortage of controller ICs also caused Samsung’s ASP to rise by about 5% QoQ. As a result, Samsung’s NAND Flash revenue went up by 12.5% QoQ to US$5.59 billion in 2Q21.
Smartphone storage solutions account for the largest portion of SK hynix’s sales mix. Nevertheless, SK hynix’s sales performance during 2Q21 still benefitted from hyperscalers’ rising demand and the brisk flow of orders related to notebooks. Hence, SK hynix grew its bit shipments by 3% QoQ. Its ASP also rose by about 8% QoQ because of the general tightening of NAND Flash supply and the shortage of controller ICs. All in all, SK hynix’s NAND Flash revenue went up by 10.8% QoQ to US$2.025 billion for 2Q21.
Kioxia benefitted from strong notebook demand and resurging procurement activities from its enterprise clients in 2Q21. In addition, Kioxia’s major clients in the smartphone segment once again kicked off their NAND Flash procurement during the quarter. As a result, Kioxia’s bit shipment grew by about 7% QoQ in 2Q21, while its ASP entered an upward trajectory for the first time in four quarters with a QoQ growth of more than 10%. However, in light of the trailing performance of its SSSTC subsidiary (formerly Liteon’s SSD business) as well as the impact of unfavorable exchange rates, Kioxia’s revenue for 2Q21, when converted into USD, reached a mere US$3.011 billion, an 8.5% QoQ increase.
Western Digital (WDC)
Western Digital put up a remarkable revenue performance for 2Q21 thanks to robust demand from the notebook segment, an upswing in enterprise SSD demand, and the shipment of its second-gen NVMe enterprise SSD, which resulted in a 39% QoQ increase in Western Digital’s enterprise SSD revenue. On the other hand, while products related to Chia cryptocurrency mining gained significant media spotlight at the end of April, they made limited contributions to Western Digital’s quarterly bit shipment, which underwent a mere 4% QoQ increase in 2Q21, though its ASP increased by 7% QoQ. All in all, Western Digital’s NAND Flash revenue reached US$2.419 billion, an 11.2% QoQ increase, in 2Q21.
Owing to strong demand from the data center and notebook segments, Micron grew its quarterly bit shipment by nearly 7% in 2Q21. In particular, Micron’s QLC client SSDs enjoyed a growing penetration rate in the PC segment. With the shortage in the SSD market leading to a 3% QoQ increase in Micron’s ASP for 2Q21, its NAND Flash revenue reached US$1.812 billion, a 9.8% QoQ increase.
Intel’s quarterly bit shipment for 2Q21 underwent a near 10% QoQ decline in spite of strong enterprise SSD demand from the data center segment. This decline can primarily be attributed to the shortage of such key components as controller ICs and PMICs. Compared to other major NAND Flash suppliers, Intel mainly procures some of these components from a single source, thereby exacerbating the impact of the component shortage on its operations, including the shipment of enterprise SSDs. Nevertheless, its ASP still grew by about 9% QoQ on the back of persistently strong demand from clients. Intel’s quarterly revenue from its NAND Flash business reached US$1.098 billion, a 0.8% QoQ decline, in 2Q21.
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As TV demand increased in North America in 1H21 following the distribution of stimulus packages, TV brands continued to replenish their component inventories during this time, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Notably, brands adopted a rolling schedule for their TV shipment because their manufacturing operations for TV sets were disrupted by a shortage of panels in 2Q21. TV shipment for 1H21 reached 98.45 million units, a 10% YoY increase.
Although supply issues related TV components have become gradually alleviated in 3Q21, TrendForce believes that retail prices of TV sets in 2H21 are unlikely to reach the rock bottom levels previously seen in 1H21 because the massive price hike of TV panels in 1H21 had led to a surge in TV manufacturing costs. In addition, as the market anticipates the possibility of an overall downturn in demand despite the arrival of the traditional peak season, TrendForce has once again revised its forecast of annual TV shipment for 2021 down to 215 million units, a 0.9% YoY decrease.
Chinese and Korean TV brands were major contributors to the growth of TV shipment for 1H21 while shipment of ultra large-sized TVs remained robust
TrendForce’s findings show that, although TV shipment for 1H21 fell short of prior forecasts by 5.8%, shipment from the two largest brands SEC (Samsung Electronics Co) and LGE (LG Electronics) comprised more than 20% of total large-sized TV shipment for the first time, thereby propelling their TV shipments for 1H21 above 20.7 million units for SEC and 14.01 million units for LGE. In particular, SEC’s large-sized (65-inch and above) TV shipment underwent a staggering 25% YoY increase for 1H21. Hence, the two brands’ strategy to eschew profit loss from the surge in panel prices by upgrading their product specs and increasing the shipment of larger-sized products proved to be relatively successful.
Despite nonstop issues with the supply of components required for TV set manufacturing in 1H21, TCL and Hisense were able to lower the manufacturing costs of their TV sets by increasing their shipments and adjusting their product mixes. For 1H21, TCL and Hisense increased their TV shipments by 11.5% and 9.5% YoY to 11.05 million units and 8.94 million units, respectively, with both companies setting records in terms of shipment volumes. In particular, 55-inch (and above) TVs accounted for 36.5% and 40.2%, of the 1H21 TV shipment from TCL and Hisense, respectively, meaning they shipped more large-sized TVs in 2021 than in any previous year. Xiaomi, the only brand among the top five to record a YoY drop in its TV shipment, saw its shipment reach 5.52 million units, a 6.6% YoY decline, despite occupying a larger share of TV shipment in China compared to TCL or Hisense. While Xiaomi struggled with rising manufacturing costs due to the persistent price hike of TV panels, Xiaomi’s decline can primarily be attributed to the fact that it failed to attract consumers despite multiple promotional price cuts in 1H21.
Persistently high prices of TV panels as well as lengthened shipping times in Europe and North America will likely hinder TV sales in 2H21 despite the arrival of the traditional peak season
Issues with TV panel supply are expected to gradually become resolved in 2H21. However, TV brands still need to address ongoing challenges with high panel costs as well as lowered TV demand in Europe and the US now that pandemic-related restrictions are being lifted. From June 2020 to July 2021, prices of 32-inch panels rose by 167%, though retail prices of 32-inch TV sets rose by a mere 30-35%. Similarly, prices of 55-inch panels rose by 120% while retail prices of 55-inch entry-level and mid-range TV sets rose by only 20-25%, with high-end TVs even experiencing a price drop. In other words, promotional price cuts taking place during peak season sales this year are unlikely to be remarkable and result in noticeable sales performances.
Although third quarters have traditionally marked the start of the peak sales season and hence a period of component procurement for TV brands, retail availability of end-products, such as TV sets, was delayed by three to four weeks this year due to port congestions taking place across the globe, which indirectly led to a decline in TV brands’ procurement activities for Europe and North America. Peak season sales, in turn, will likely be relatively muted this year in view of an increase in TV manufacturing costs and lengthened shipping times. Therefore, TrendForce expects TV shipment for 2H21 to reach 117 million units, an 8.5% YoY decrease.
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The analog IC industry is one with a long history of development and product adoption across various applications. Annual analog IC revenue reached US$53.9 billion in 2020. As the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is gradually brought under control in China and the US this year, their domestic demand for telecom, automotive, industrial, and consumer electronics products has also kept growing, in turn generating strong demand for analog ICs. TrendForce therefore expects IC revenue for 2021 to reach US67.9 billion, a 22.1% YoY increase.
More specifically, analog IC demand from the automotive market is expected to undergo remarkable growth this year, primarily due to the recovery of the global automotive market and the continued trend towards automotive electrification as commercial opportunities from ADAS, EV, and automotive electronics enter a period of rapid growth. In response to demand from automakers and the auto market, various major IDMs have been placing a heavy emphasis on automotive analog IC development. Led by Infineon, NXP, Renesas, TI, and STM, the automotive IC market is expected to experience a 24.6% growth in 2021.
What is an analog IC?
The analog IC is an indispensable component in electronic devices. These chips can be divided into two categories according to their functions: general purpose analog IC and application specific analog IC. The former category encompasses amplifiers/comparators (signal conditioning), signal conversion, interface, and power management (general purpose). In sum, general purpose analog ICs are characterized by their low costs, single purpose, and universal compatibility.
Application specific analog ICs, on the other hand, encompass such use cases as consumer, computer, communications, automotive, and industrial/others. This product category refers to analog ICs that are designed and manufactured in accordance with electrical systems specified by the client. Compared to digital ICs, analog ICs are much more diverse in terms of product type, less costly, and more stable, while also having longer lifecycles.
The current state of the top three analog IC manufacturers
Almost all major analog IC suppliers are IDMs with long histories. In particular, longtime market leader Texas Instruments once against took pole position in the ranking of analog IC suppliers by revenue last year. With a range of analog ICs that includes more than 80,000 products, Texas Instruments possessed a 19% market share. The company is expected to maintain its dominance in 2021 thanks to its diverse product lines, high market acceptance, and high volume of client orders.
Infineon, which took second place on the ranking, registered a 19% YoY revenue growth on the back of its expansion into automotive and power management markets. Third-ranked STMicroelectronics benefitted from rising sales of its analog, MEMS, and sensor product portfolios. TrendForce expects Infineon and STMicroelectronics to continue their upward trajectories throughout 2021.
Whereas China is the largest market for analog ICs, the analog IC industry will see the highest growth in the US
China is expected to account for 42% of analog IC sales, the highest among all regions in 2021, with the consumer electronics segment comprising most of these transactions. However, the US is expected to undergo the highest growth in terms of analog IC sales with a US$10.6 billion revenue in 2021, a 25% YoY growth. This performance can mostly be attributed to the fact that the US economy has been recovering in the post-pandemic era owing to increasing purchases in the consumer electronics, telecom, and automotive markets.
Furthermore, the US government has been pushing for infrastructure developments with a focus on transportation, networking, and electricity generation, leading to expanded procurement of analog ICs used in these applications. As the markets welcomes the arrival of the traditional peak season for analog IC procurement in 2H21, growth in the US market will likely persist as well.
The global smart manufacturing market is expected to welcome a golden period of growth across five years, starting with annual revenue of US305 billion in 2021 and surpassing US450 billion in annual revenue in 2025 at a 10.5% CAGR, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. This growth can be attributed to several factors, including the accelerating digital transformation efforts from enterprises, the increased demand from industrial automation and WFH applications, and the emergence of 5G, advanced AI technologies, and other value-added services.
Looking ahead to 2022, TrendForce believes that the outlook of smart manufacturing has evolved from such conservative strategies as improving the resilience of the manufacturing industry itself, to increasing the industry’s production capacity as well as efficiency while reducing both energy expenditure and carbon emissions. These advantages are expected to serve as the main drivers propelling the growth of the smart manufacturing market next year.
Smart manufacturing development will revolve around 5G, edge computing, and carbon footprint reduction going forward
The core feature of smart manufacturing lies in its ability to deliver instant feedback through the integration of virtual data and real, physical equipment. Hence, low latency, high security, and fast computing power have become increasingly important for smart manufacturing development, which will revolve around edge computing and 5G applications, including AR/VR, machine vision, digital twins, and predictive maintenance, all of which will experience considerable upgrades in functionality thanks to smart manufacturing.
Furthermore, as the issue of global warming gains more and more media coverage, 137 countries have now committed to achieving carbon neutrality. This pursuit of environmentally friendly outcomes is also reflected in the current state of industry 4.0 development. For instance, companies including Henkel, Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, and Tata Steel all operate manufacturing facilities that qualify them for membership in WEF’s Global Lighthouse Network. The aforementioned companies have ensured their facilities operate with optimized energy consumption, highly effective manufacturing processes, and reduced carbon emissions through the adoption of computer simulation/modeling and smart management. TrendForce expects the future design of smart manufacturing equipment and factories to center on the use of environmentally friendly IoT technologies.
Taiwanese manufacturers are likely to seize shares in the niche market in light of the rise of domestic micro-factories
It should be pointed out that the Taiwanese manufacturing industry possesses certain competitive advantages in the global market, including a highly consolidated supply chain, a relatively comprehensive smart manufacturing value chain, and the ability to deliver highly customized solutions. In particular, various Taiwanese manufacturers specialize in full-service, integrated smart solutions that feature equipment health monitoring and machine vision functionalities, thereby significantly lowering the barrier for adoption. Assuming that the domestic industry is able to continue leveraging their existing competitive advantages and furthering their current developments, TrendForce expects micro-factories to become the key factor through which Taiwanese companies can find commercial success in the global smart manufacturing industry.
Although the smart manufacturing value chain has historically had its various verticals spread throughout the world, recent trends such as a return of domestic manufacturing and tectonic shifts in the manufacturing industry have resulted in the rise of shortened supply chains as well as localized operations. These developments have led to the recent surge of micro-factories. TrendForce’s investigations indicate that, in addition to their high degree of automation and analytical accuracy, micro-factories deliver improved manufacturing outcomes while minimizing resource consumption and yielding such benefits as a flexible supply chain, lean human resources, and low initial cost. Micro-factories have already seen widespread usage in the global automotive and electronics industries in light of these benefits. Likewise, TrendForce believes that Taiwanese manufacturers of bicycle chains, steel nuts/bolts/screws, and suitcases will likely succeed in their respective niche markets by upgrading their manufacturing operation with micro-factories.
After DRAM prices made a rebound into an upward trajectory in 1Q21, buyers expanded their DRAM procurement activities in 2Q21 as they anticipated a further price hike and insufficient supply going forward, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Not only was demand robust from clients in the notebook segment, which benefitted from ongoing WFH and distance learning applications, but CSPs also sought to gradually replenish their DRAM inventories. Furthermore, demand for products that are relatively niche, including graphics DRAM and consumer DRAM, remained strong. Hence, DRAM suppliers experienced better-than-expected QoQ increases in their DRAM shipment for 2Q21. At the same time, DRAM quotes grew by a greater magnitude compared to the first quarter as well. With both shipment and quotes undergoing growths in tandem, DRAM suppliers registered remarkable growths in their revenues in 2Q21. Total DRAM revenue for 2Q21 reached US$24.1 billion, a 26% QoQ increase.
However, heading into 3Q21, the issue of mismatched component availability began surfacing in the upstream supply chain and bottlenecking the assembly of electronic devices. Some OEMs/ODMs (especially notebook manufacturers) have therefore scaled down their DRAM procurement due to their relatively high level of DRAM inventory in comparison with other components. As a result, although most DRAM suppliers remain bullish on the market’s future, the growth in demand from certain product segments is likely to slow down, since DRAM buyers still carry ample inventory. In light of suppliers’ insistence on raising quotes, TrendForce expects the overall ASP of DRAM products for 3Q21 to undergo a QoQ increase, albeit at a narrower 3-8% now compared to 2Q21.
DRAM suppliers significantly improved their earnings performances in 2Q21 due to massive price hikes and increased shipment of products manufactured with advanced process technologies
The three dominant suppliers (Samsung, SK hynix, and Micron) of DRAM products put up similar revenue performances for 2Q21 as they saw an increase in both ASP and shipment, with the latter surpassing the suppliers’ expectations. On the demand side, buyers showed an increased willingness to expand DRAM procurement because they anticipated that prices will rise even further. In addition, frequent shortages of various semiconductor components this year drove buyers to stock up on DRAM ahead of time so as to avoid potential manufacturing bottlenecks due to low DRAM inventory. Hence, each of the three suppliers increased its revenue by more than 20% QoQ in 2Q21. Samsung in particular registered the most remarkable growth, at a 30.2% QoQ increase. For 3Q21, these suppliers will not only continue to hike up quotes, but also increase their quarterly shipments by a similar magnitude. TrendForce thus expects their market shares to remain relatively unchanged from the previous quarter.
DRAM suppliers likewise experienced considerable growths in terms of profitability for 2Q21 thanks to the massive increase in DRAM quotes, along with the fact that DRAM products manufactured with advanced process technologies occupied a growing share of the suppliers’ DRAM bit shipment. For instance, while Samsung kicked off mass production with the 1Znm process in 1Q21 at a relatively low yield rate (since the technology was still in its infancy at the time), the company was able to considerably ramp up production in 2Q21, thereby raising its operating profit margin from 34% in 1Q21 to a staggering 46% in 2Q21. SK hynix similarly raised its operating profit margin to 38% in 2Q21 by improving the yield rate of its advanced process technology. Micron, on the other hand, increased its DRAM quotes by a similar magnitude compared to its Korean competitors in 2Q21 (Micron counts the March-May period as its fiscal quarter) and saw a jump in its operating profit margin from 26% in 1Q21 to 37% in 2Q21. Assuming that prices and shipment continue their upward trajectory in 3Q21, TrendForce is bullish on DRAM suppliers’ profitability for the quarter as well and expects market leader Samsung to reach 50% in operating profit margin for the first time in nearly three years.
Taiwanese suppliers delivered similar revenue growths to the three dominant suppliers’ in 2Q21 thanks to persistent market demand for specialty DRAM
Taiwanese DRAM suppliers posted a massive increase in their revenues for 2Q21 owing to persistently high specialty DRAM quotes and high demand from clients. More specifically, Nanya Tech’s revenue grew by about 28% QoQ for 2Q21, and its operating profit margin increased from 17.1% in 1Q21 to 31.2% in 2Q21. These growths can primarily be attributed to a 30% increase in the company’s specialty DRAM quotes, and Nanya Tech has expressed that it expects further earnings growth in 3Q21. Winbond, on the other hand, saw strong demand from its clients and raised its DRAM quotes by a greater magnitude than its NAND Flash quotes. Winbond’s revenue from its DRAM business not only rose by 39% QoQ in 2Q21, but also accounted for an increasing share of its total revenue, at 46%.
It should be pointed out that the two aforementioned Taiwanese suppliers are still currently facing the issue of insufficient production capacities, and their existing fabs do not have the physical space to house additional manufacturing equipment. Hence, before these suppliers finish constructing new fabs, they must rely on raising quotes in order to grow their DRAM businesses in the short run. Nanya Tech’s new fab that is currently under construction will not be able to contribute to the company’s production capacity until construction concludes in 2024. In the short run, Nanya is able to marginally increase its bit output only through migrating to advanced process technologies at the 1A/1Bnm nodes. Similarly, Winbond will not be able to resolve its issue of insufficient production capacity until its fab located in Luzhu, Kaohsiung, kicks off mass production in 2H22. As for PSMC, its revenue from sales of PC DRAM products manufactured in-house increased by about 7% QoQ in 2Q21. However, PSMC’s total revenue from both sales of in-house DRAM and its DRAM foundry business increased by 19% QoQ in 2Q21. Much like its Taiwanese competitors, PSMC must carefully allocate its limited production capacity between logic IC products and memory products.
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