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.
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 email@example.com
The traditional method of extending electronic devices’ battery life via reducing power consumption and increasing battery capacity has now reached its limits. In response, the fast charging industry is now looking to adopt fast chargers equipped with GaN chips as the latest mainstream solution that can further improve device battery life, with the demand for GaN chips recently seeing a progressive rise as well. At the 2021 Global Third Generation Semiconductor Fast Charging Industry Summit, major Chinese GaN solution supplier Innoscience announced the release of four GaN chips used in fast chargers: INN650D150A, INN650DA150A, INN650D260A, and INN650DA260A. All four chips have a maximum voltage of 650V, while their package dimensions mainly range from DFN 8×8 to DFN 5×6.
Established in 2015, Innoscience specializes in GaN chip design and manufacturing. The company’s GaN on Si process technology makes it one of the leading third-generation semiconductor IDMs in China. As geopolitical tensions escalate between China and the US, accelerating the development of domestic semiconductor supply chains has now become one of the top priorities for China. More specifically, due to the heavy usage of third-generation semiconductors such as SiC and GaN across the telecom, energy, and EV industries, the Chinese government has been aggressively fostering the growth of companies specializing in these semiconductors, with Innoscience becoming one of the leading suppliers chosen by the government.
GaN fast chargers released by Chinese brands at the moment, such as the Meizu GN01 and ROCK RH-PD65W, all feature GaN chips manufactured by Innoscience. Given China’s continued push for domestically manufactured semiconductor substitutes, Innoscience is expected to seize considerable shares in the rapidly growing GaN fast charging market in China.
Navitas and Power Integrations possess the greatest competitive advantages in the global GaN fast charging chip market
Founded in Ireland, IC design company Navitas has seen its GaN chips widely adopted in GaN fast chargers in recent years. For instance, Xiaomi’s 65W GaN charger contains Navitas’ NV6115 and NV6117 GaN chips, while Lenovo’s Thinkplus 65W charger also contains Navitas’ NV6125 GaN chips. At the moment, Navitas solutions are used by major brands including Xiaomi, OPPO, Lenovo, ASUS-Adol, and Dell, as well as by peripheral manufacturers including Anker and Baseus. TrendForce estimates that Navitas GaN chips reached a 50-60% share in the GaN charger market in 2020, making Navitas the largest supplier of GaN charger chips in the world.
Power Integrations, a US-based IDM, specializes in power semiconductor devices and possesses relatively mature GaN chip integration technologies. Power Integrations manufactures products with relatively smaller PCBA dimensions due to their reduced number of discrete components. By adopting Power Integrations’ GaN chips, charger manufacturers are in turn able to reduce the size of their chargers in order to deliver solutions that are more mobile and more convenient, making these chargers a perfect fit for fast charging needs of smartphones and notebook computers.
TrendForce, therefore, holds a positive outlook towards Power Integrations’ future potential. Power Integrations’ GaN chips are primarily used in peripherals manufactured by Aukey, Ugreen, IINE, and Remax, although they will likely enter the smartphone and notebook markets in the future due to Power Integration’s competitive advantage in technological integration.
The current state of the notebook panel market shows that prices of notebook panels are likely to follow the same trend set by TV panels and monitor panels in 4Q21. In other words, notebook panels may see their prices plummet from the previous uptrend during the quarter.
Notebook brands are confident that a wave of demand for commercial notebooks will take the place of the prior demand for consumer notebooks. Objectively speaking, however, as soon as enterprises return to pre-pandemic business operations, they are unlikely to immediately spend a considerable amount of their budget on refreshing their existing hardware, including notebook computers.
On the other hand, although consumer purchases comprised most WFH demand for notebooks within the past year, these notebooks were purchased with subsidies funded by the buyers’ workplaces. Once consumers return to physical offices for work following the termination of WFH, their purchased notebooks will then be returned to the workplaces as well. Hence, notebook brands which previously anticipated an upcoming wave of replacement demand for business notebooks may be overly optimistic in their expectations. As such, although notebook shipment has remained bullish in 3Q21, notebook sales are likely to gradually slow down going forward, meaning notebook vendors and brands alike may enter into a key period of inventory adjustment in 4Q21. At the same time, notebook manufacturers will also decelerate their procurement activities for panels across their entire range of notebook computers.
The four largest notebook panel suppliers still exert significant influence over the market’s overall supply of notebook panels, although newcomer HKC is not to be underestimated in terms of its potential to do the same, even pertaining to quotes. While HKC did not ship a single notebook panel in 2020, the company has ambitiously targeted an annual shipment of 10 million units this year in light of the expanded production capacity for IPS panels at its Mianyang fab. In 1H21, however, the display industry suffered a severe shortage of driver ICs, whose manufacturers first sought to ensure a steady supply of driver ICs for their more established clients. Being a notebook panel supplier that had had no business foundation, HKC, as was typical of such upstart companies, had its supply of driver ICs accordingly “adjusted” by driver IC suppliers. HKC was hence unable to effectively raise its shipment for 1H21.
As the demand for panels from various end-product segments slows down in 2H21, the shortage situation of driver ICs is also expected to either lessen somewhat or even turn into a supply-demand equilibrium. As such, HKC is likely to procure more driver ICs from its suppliers and subsequently step up its notebook panel shipment to 3.5 million units in 3Q21 and 4 million units in 4Q21. HKC’s increase in panel shipment for 2H21, if proven successful, will place downward pressure on notebook panel prices, thereby weakening said prices going forward.
TrendForce believes that 11.6-inch panels, the market for which has been relatively bearish, will most likely experience a decline in quotes starting in early 4Q21. At this size, even Full HD/IPS products, quotes for which have been relatively high in 3Q21, are likely to see their quotes hold flat in November 2021 and experience a sudden downward pressure on prices at the end of the year. Should the COVID-19 pandemic be brought under control on a global scale, demand for consumer electronics would likely return to its cyclical downturn in 1Q22, and the notebook panel market, despite its relatively robust supply chain, would see a more severe overall price accordingly.