YMTC has officially notified a 3~5% price increase for NAND Flash in mid-May. However, the initial impact of the price hike is expected to be felt in the enterprise market, and it may take some time to reflect in the consumer spot market.
The semiconductor industry is in the midst of a correction period aimed at tackling inventory challenges, and the memory sector is feeling the impact. Major players in global memory manufacturing, including Samsung, SK Hynix, Micron, and YMTC, have recently disclosed substantial cuts in CAPEX, ranging from 45~50% starting from 4Q22. The most recent financial reports from Micron and Samsung further underscore the industry’s downward trend.
TrendForce highlights that YMTC’s decision to raise prices comes amidst market conditions marked by substantial oversupply in the second quarter. Despite Samsung’s efforts to curtail production, the positive effects of this reduction are not anticipated to materialize until the latter part of the year. Consequently, experts predict a more substantial decline in contract prices for the second quarter of 2023 than initially expected.
The market situation in 2Q23 is still oversupplied, leading to further price declines. Since October of last year, the market transaction price for wafers has been lower than the supplier’s cash cost due to selling pressure. Some suppliers used the opportunity when Samsung announced production cuts to raise the wafer price, which is likely why YMTC made this announcement. TrendForce predicts that as demand gradually recovers in the second half of the year, wafer prices will become more resilient. (Photo credit: YMTC LinkedIn)
TV sales in China hit their peak in 2019, with 44.5 million units sold, but the market experienced a sharp decline in 2020. This was due to the previous marketing strategy of lowering prices to increase sales volume no longer being effective for small and medium-sized products. In response, brands shifted their focus to larger-sized products, specifically those with a screen size of 65 inches or above, which has accelerated the trend of larger TVs dominating the market.
Panel prices skyrocketed between 2020 and 2021, causing a significant price disparity for TV products during promotional events in China. In the 2021 618 promotion, 55-inch TV prices surged by 67% compared to the previous year, while 65-inch TVs increased by 50%, leading to a surge in demand for larger TV sizes. TVs with a screen size of 55 inches and above accounted for over 65% of the market share in China in 2021, and it is anticipated to reach 80% by 2022. With greater discounts, 65-inch TVs became the mainstream size in 2022, surpassing 55-inch TVs in sales volume and market share. The market share of smaller TVs (43 inches and below) fell from roughly 30% to 16%.
According to recent market research, the dominance of smart TVs has surged from 85% in 2016 to a staggering 98% in 2022. Additionally, the popularity of 4K TVs has risen rapidly, with an 80% market share in 2022, following their introduction in 2014. The shift towards these new TV standards has been fueled by ongoing price cuts in the retail sector and the growing demand for larger screen sizes.
The scale of promotions during China’s 618 and Double Eleven shopping festivals could be affected by the upward trend of larger screen sizes and the rise in panel prices in 2023. As a result, brands are expected to shift their promotional strategies towards larger TVs, particularly 75-inch and 85-inch models, which generate more revenue. Consequently, TV sales in China for this year are predicted to decline further by 1.7%, with an estimated sales volume of approximately 30 million units.v
TrendForce’s latest research indicates that, as production cuts to DRAM and NAND Flash have not kept pace with weakening demand, the ASP of some products is expected to decline further in 2Q23. DRAM prices are projected to fall 13~18%; NAND Flash is expected to fall between 8~13%.
On the other hand, based on the weekly updates on the DRAM and NAND flash spot markets by TrendForce, the spot markets for DRAM and NAND flash continued to decline this week. Details are as follows.
DRAM Spot Market
Spot prices of DDR4 products have been dropping incrementally for several consecutive days, and buyers in the spot market are mostly waiting for further developments. However, there are more quote inquiries for DDR5 products because the supply gap hasn’t been bridged. As a result, there is now an uptick in spot prices of DDR5 products, and the divergence between DDR4 and DDR5 products in terms of price trajectory is expected to continue for several weeks. Nevertheless, spot prices of DDR4 products are showing no sign of rebounding in the near future. The average spot price of mainstream chips (i.e., DDR4 1Gx8 2666MT/s) fell by 0.74% from US$ 1.618 last week to US$ 1.606 this week.
NAND Flash Spot Market
European and American spot markets have yet to recover in purchase sentiment, while some Asian markets, due to the recuperation of the Chinese market, have slightly risen in purchase willingness. Overall spots have not experienced any apparent fluctuations from South Korean suppliers’ announcement of production cuts, despite sellers aggressively adjusting their prices and pursuing orders, which led to a restricted level of overall transactions and a small drop in prices. 512Gb TLC wafer has dropped by 0.35% in spot prices this week, arriving at US$1.431.
Samsung recently announced that they will ahead of TSMC in the foundry market within 5 years. At the same time, Intel also claimed to become the second-largest player in the market before 2030. Currently, both Samsung and TSMC are adapting 3nm process to do the chip manufacturing, with the technology of GAA(Samsung) and FinFET(TSMC) respectively.
Samsung sees GAA technology as a crucial key to surpassing TSMC. Currently, Samsung’s 4nm lags behind TSMC by about 2 years, and its 3nm is about a year behind. However, this situation will change when TSMC turns to 2nm. Industry insider sources indicate that TSMC plans to use GAA technology in 2nm process, and Samsung believes that they can seize the chance to catch up with TSMC since TSMC may have a hard time when turning to 2nm process.
Industry insiders have revealed that AMD has shifted some of its 4nm CPU chip orders from TSMC to Samsung. It is reported that AMD has signed an agreement with Samsung to manufacture some of its mobile SoC by using Samsung’s 4nm node, and Samsung may also manufacture AMD’s Chromebook APU.
The Fight in the Foundry Market is On
According to TrendForce, the top 10 global foundry players in 4Q22 with TSMC account for 58.5% of market share by revenue, far ahead of Samsung’s 15.8%. Industry insiders suggest that Samsung still has a long way to go to catch up with TSMC. Some sources say that TSMC’s 2nm process will be mass-produced as scheduled in 2025, while Samsung’s plans are still to be observed.
Intel is also striving for the top spot in the wafer foundry market. Since the beginning of 2021, Intel has implemented a series of measures in its foundry business after announcing its “IDM 2.0” strategy. Last July, Intel stated that it will manufacture chips for MediaTek, and the first batch of products will be produced within the next 18 to 24 months using more mature manufacturing technology (Intel 16). In addition, Intel said that Qualcomm and Nvidia are also interested in having them manufacture their chips. To regain its leading edge in chip manufacturing, Intel has unveiled its 5 process technology stages to be launched in the next few years, including 10nm, 7nm, 4nm, 3nm, and 20A.
And TSMC has no competitive relationship with their clients by not doing the wafer design, apparently, this is also a significant advantage for TSMC and other foundry manufacturers. In recent years, more companies have recognized the importance and highly profitable nature of foundry manufacturing, leading to the independent establishment of foundry manufacturing operations. Samsung and Intel have also followed this trend, as foundry manufacturing can optimize production technology and provide major companies with more opportunities for trial and error.
Due to weak demand in the mobile phone market, the decline in prices of mobile phone panels, especially AMOLED panels, has accelerated this year. Under overcapacity pressure, the price decline has exceeded expectations.
According to our survey, some brands actively introduced Ramless DDI flexible AMOLED panels in the second half of last year, trying to narrow the price gap with rigid AMOLED panels and increase usage rates through DDI cost optimization. However, the inventory level of flexible AMOLED panels with Ram is high, and the price decline has also accelerated, while also narrowing the price gap with rigid AMOLED panels.
The current prices update:
The significant price reduction of flexible AMOLED panels with Ram has dimmed the cost advantage of Ramless DDI flexible AMOLED panels, and currently only Xiaomi has adopted them. Other first-tier brand customers remain cautious.
In addition, due to the momentum of flexible AMOLED panel price declines, whether the price of rigid AMOLED panels will follow suit has become a challenge for SDC. We believe that SDC should follow the price reduction strategy and may even approach the level of USD 15 in the second half of the year after abandoning the USD 20 threshold.
However, there are two reasons why we believe SDC may find it difficult to reverse the current situation even with a price reduction strategy. These reasons include:
Due to the sustained pressure on AMOLED panel prices, LTPS LCD panel prices are also forced to continue to decline, and it is expected that prices will continue to drop from the current range of USD 10-15 and may even fall below USD 10.
On the other hand, because LTPS LCD prices have approached a-Si LCD panel prices, it has aroused the interest of some brand customers. Under the overall weak market conditions, adopting low-cost LTPS LCD specifications may help improve revenue performance or stimulate demand by upgrading from HD to FHD specifications at the same price.