Samsung


2021-07-13

DRAM Prices for 3Q21 Projected to Undergo Minor QoQ Increase of 3-8% Owing to Rising Demand from Peak Season, Says TrendForce

As third quarters have typically been peak seasons for the production of various end-products, the sufficiency ratio of DRAM is expected to undergo a further decrease in 3Q21, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. However, DRAM buyers are now carrying a relatively high DRAM inventory due to their amplified purchases of electronic components in 1H21. The QoQ increase in DRAM contract prices are hence expected to slightly narrow from 18-23% in 2Q21 to 3-8% in 3Q21. Looking ahead to 4Q21, TrendForce believes that DRAM supply will continue to rise, thereby leading to either a further narrowing of price hikes or pressure constraining the potential price hike of DRAM products.

PC DRAM prices are expected to rise by 3-8% QoQ due to continued constraints on production capacities

From the perspective of demand, the stay-at-home economy has resulted in persistently high demand for notebook computers. Although discrepancies still exist among notebook brands’ inventory levels of various components, these brands are still making an aggressive attempt at maximizing their production of notebooks. However, as most of these brands are still carrying about 8-10 weeks’ worth of PC DRAM inventory (which is relatively high), PC DRAM purchasing strategies from the buyers’ side will therefore remain relatively conservative. From the perspective of supply, due to the rising demand for server DRAM, the production capacity allocated to PC DRAM is still in a severe supply crunch. Hence, DRAM suppliers are firm in their attitudes to raise PC DRAM quotes, and TrendForce expects the price negotiations between PC DRAM buyers and suppliers in 3Q21 to become both lengthier and more difficult as a result, with contract prices likely finalized at the end of July. Even so, what is now certain is that both sides have reached some level of understanding regarding the ongoing price hike of PC DRAM products. TrendForce forecasts a 3-8% increase in PC DRAM contract prices for 3Q21.

QoQ increase in server DRAM prices for 3Q21 are expected to narrow to 5-10% due to buyers carrying a relatively high inventory

With regards to demand, in spite of the minor increase in the shipment of whole servers, server DRAM buyers are less aggressive in their server DRAM procurement compared to the previous quarter. For instance, CSPs in North America and in China are currently carrying more than eight weeks of server DRAM inventory. In other words, procurement activities for server DRAM will gradually decline in the coming quarters in accordance with market demand. Notably, some Tier 2 clients will continue to procure server DRAM in 3Q21 since they did not sufficiently stock up in the prior quarters, and this demand will likely result in upward momentum for server DRAM prices. With regards to supply, the three major DRAM suppliers (Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron) are limited by the fact they are currently carrying a relatively low inventory of server DRAM. As such, these suppliers will attempt to maintain their profitability by increasing prices each quarter. It should also be pointed out that the decreased DRAM demand from smartphone brands has in fact allowed more wiggle room for server manufacturers to negotiate for more favorable server DRAM prices. TrendForce thus believes that, before the supply side and demand side can reach an agreement, negotiations for server DRAM prices will become increasingly lengthy, and that server DRAM contract prices for 3Q21 will likely increase by 5-10% QoQ once negotiations are finalized.

Mobile DRAM prices are expected to defy market realities and increase by 5-15% QoQ, with potential risks of high price and low demand

In terms of demand, certain smartphone brands are now carrying a relatively higher inventory of mobile DRAM owing to Southeast Asia’s worsening COVID-19 pandemic, which led smartphone brands that primarily manufacture and sell their products there to begin lowering their production targets in 2Q21. In addition, some smartphone brands have set overly ambitious production targets; combined with the current shortage of foundry capacities, the discrepancies among the supply of smartphone components have now become more apparent, in turn forcing brands to slow down their mobile DRAM procurement in order to adjust their component inventories first. Demand has remained strong from clients in the smartphone market since 4Q21, so the supply fulfillment rate of the three major DRAM suppliers for their smartphone clients will be consistently higher compared to clients in other markets. As DRAM demand from non-smartphone applications ramps up and results in higher profitability than mobile DRAM, the three major DRAM suppliers will continue to adjust their production capacities in accordance with the shifting supply and demand from various segments, thus resulting in an increasingly constrained supply of mobile DRAM.

It should be pointed out that DRAM market leader Samsung has generally tried to minimize the profit discrepancies among its various products. Furthermore, the price hike in Samsung’s mobile DRAM products was relatively lower compared to Micron in 1H21. As a result, in view of the weakening mobile DRAM demand in 3Q21, Samsung will increase its mobile DRAM prices to a more notable extent compared to its US competitors. Going forward, Samsung’s price hike will lead its competitors to retool their pricing strategies, subsequently leading to an even wider price increase across the entire mobile DRAM market. As such, TrendForce expects mobile DRAM prices to increase by 5-15% QoQ in 3Q21, which is a step up compared to 2Q21. On the other hand, this price hike against market realities may potentially lead to a further decline in mobile DRAM demand, resulting in a situation with high price and low demand.

Graphics DRAM prices are expected to increase by 8-13% QoQ due to tight supply of GDDR6

Regarding graphics DRAM demand, many cryptocurrency miners were previously intent on mining ETH with older graphics cards as it reached peak prices. Nevertheless, the recent bearish turn of the cryptocurrency market has indirectly had an impact on demand for graphics cards equipped with GDDR5, although most of this impact primarily affected the spot market. For the contract market, more than 90% of graphics DRAM applications have migrated to GDDR6 products, which are now in short supply since new graphics cards are equipped with GDDR6 memory and are in high demand. In addition, the vast majority of GDDR6 stock from DRAM suppliers is currently cornered by graphics card manufacturers and game console manufacturers, thereby further limiting the graphics DRAM supply available to small and medium OEMs/ODMs. Regarding graphics DRAM supply, although GDDR6 accounts for more than 90% of the three major DRAM suppliers’ graphics DRAM production, demand for GDDR6 still far exceeds supply because end product demand has also migrated to GDDR6. As orders for server DRAM gradually ramp up in 3Q21, DRAM suppliers will prioritize fulfilling demand from the server market first. Hence, graphics DRAM contract prices for 3Q21 are expected to increase by 8-13% QoQ.

Consumer DRAM prices are expected to increase by up to 13% QoQ in light of strong demand

At the moment, consumer DRAM demand is relatively robust from the consumer electronics market and the telecom market. In addition, as China has been accelerating its build-out of 5G infrastructures and its rollout of WiFi 6 in the post-pandemic era, the overall demand for consumer DRAM remains strong going forward. On the other hand, the three dominant DRAM suppliers are slowing down their transition of production capacities from DDR3 products to CMOS Image Sensors or other Logic IC products now that the consumer DRAM market has taken a bullish turn. However, in the medium-to-long term, the general trend in the DRAM industry will still point to the elimination of the older 25/20nm process technologies and the continued migration towards more advanced 1Znm and 1αnm processes. As a result, given DDR3 products’ declining supply and strong demand, DDR3 prices for 3Q21 are expected to increase by 8-13% QoQ, while DDR4 prices are expected to undergo a minor growth of 3-8% QoQ in accordance with mainstream PC and server DRAM prices.

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 lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-06-03

Enterprise SSD Prices Projected to Increase by More Than 10% QoQ in 3Q21 Due to Growing Procurement Capacity, Says TrendForce

Enterprise SSD procurement has been rising on the back of growing server shipments since 2Q21, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. In particular, the share of 8TB products in shipments of SSDs to data centers has shown the most noticeable growth, which is expected to persist through 3Q21. However, certain SSD components and parts may be in shortage due to insufficient foundry capacity. TrendForce is therefore revising the QoQ hikes in contract prices of enterprise SSDs for 3Q21 to 10-15% from the previous projection of 5-10%.

TrendForce further indicates that the high demand for enterprise SSDs in 3Q21 is attributed to several factors. First, North American cloud service providers (hyperscalers) have pretty much completed their inventory adjustments and now continue to expand their storage capacity. Second, the flow of incoming orders to traditional server brands is getting stronger over the quarters as government agencies and SMBs increase their budgets for IT infrastructure. Third, Intel and AMD are ramping up production for server CPUs based on their respective new processor platforms. Following the adoption of new CPUs, the overall demand for enterprise SSDs has also shifted to higher-density products because clients want to upgrade their computing power and storage capacity. Specifically, demand is mainly trending toward 4/8TB SSDs since raising NAND Flash density can lower the cost of SSD deployment.

Supply leader Samsung will likely gain control over enterprise SSD pricing in the market

Regarding the supply end, Samsung has a higher flexibility in supplying SSDs compared to the other suppliers because it has a higher share of in-house components for its storage products. Therefore, in view of the possible shortage in certain SSD components, Samsung will likely be able to further expand its market share for enterprise SSDs. Furthermore, Samsung’s products are expected to account for more than 50% of enterprise SSDs (in terms of bits) shipped to data centers in North America in 3Q21. This dominance will likely further Samsung’s ability to dictate market prices going forward.

Intel, on the other hand, has been constrained in its ability to manufacture enterprise SSDs due to a shortage of PMICs. In addition, Intel has mostly been fulfilling orders for QLC products. As a result, Intel’s market share may potentially decrease in the TLC-dominant enterprise SSD sector. Regarding other suppliers including Kioxia and SK Hynix, although they have been able to raise their market shares due to gradual adoption of their products by clients, they are unlikely to catch up to Samsung for the time being.

On the PC client SSD front, at the moment, demand for notebook computers has remained strong, while the supply of SSD controller IC is still relatively tight. TrendForce therefore forecasts a slight 3-8% QoQ increase in client SSD contract prices for 3Q21. Regardless, suppliers will not slow down their process migrations. Starting from 3Q21, 176L PC client SSDs will be available on the market, with a corresponding increase in supply bits in the upstream SSD supply chain.

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 lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-06-01

Monitor Panel Shipment for 1Q21 Declines by 8.6% QoQ to 39.9 Million Units Due to IC Shortage and Samsung’s Exit, Says TrendForce

Owing to the stay-at-home economy brought about by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for IT products has been sky-high since 2Q20. However, monitor panel shipment for 1Q21 declined by 8.6% QoQ to 39.9 million units due to the shortage of components such as ICs in the upstream supply chain, as well as SDC’s (Samsung Display Co.) decision to shutter its monitor panel manufacturing operations, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations.

Regarding the two aforementioned factors constraining the shipment performances of monitor panel suppliers, TrendForce indicates that SDC will exit the monitor LCD panel manufacturing business after it reaches its shipment target of 1.2 million panels in 1H21. This figure represents a staggering 93.8% decline compared to the 19.3 million units of LCD panels that SDC shipped throughout last year. Aside from SDC’s decision, the other detractor of monitor panel shipment in 1Q21 was the tight supply of semiconductor production capacity, which resulted in a shortage of such components as ICs and TCON (timing controllers) in the upstream panel supply chain. Panel suppliers were hence constrained in their ability to manufacture panels, thereby leading to a shortage of monitor panels. In addition, since TV and notebook (laptop) panels have higher profit margins compared to monitor panels, panel suppliers generally allocate less of their production capacities for manufacturing monitor panels relative to the other products.

Monitor panel shipment for 2021 is still likely to experience a YoY growth as material shortage becomes alleviated going forward

Nonetheless, as demand for TV and notebook computers gradually slows, and certain semiconductor foundries are expected to expand their production capacities in 2H21, TrendForce believes that panel suppliers will likely in turn allocate more production capacities to clients in the monitor segment in 4Q21. More specifically, the current shortage of components in the upstream supply chain, which has been exerting significant downward pressure on monitor panel shipment, will be gradually alleviated in 2H21. On the demand side, the persistent stay-at-home economy will continue to generate demand for IT products. Monitor brands will therefore ramp up procurement activities for components such as panels in order to maintain a healthy inventory level. In light of influences on the supply side and demand side, TrendForce expects monitor panel shipment for 2021 to reach 169 million units, a 4.2% YoY growth.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Display Research, please click here, or email Ms. Vivie Liu from the Sales Department at vivieliu@trendforce.com

2021-05-10

Growth in Total Smartphone Production for 2021 Drops to 8.5% YoY Due to India’s Second Wave of Coronavirus, Says TrendForce

TrendForce’s investigations find that India has become the second largest market for smartphones since 2019. However, the recent worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country has severely impaired India’s domestic economy and subsequently dampened various smartphone brands’ production volume and sales (sell-in) performances there. TrendForce is therefore revising the forecasted YoY growth in global smartphone production for 2021 from 9.4% down to 8.5%, with a yearly production volume of 1.36 billion units and potential for further decreases going forward.

TrendForce further indicates that the top five smartphone brands (Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo) have either set up assembly plants in India or sought assistance from EMS providers with operations in the country. Hence, the share of made-in-India smartphones has been on the rise over the years, even though the majority of the domestically manufactured devices are still for meeting the demand of the home market. Judging from the current state of Indian smartphone manufacturing, TrendForce expects the second wave to reduce the country’s smartphone production volume for 2Q21 and 3Q21 by a total of 12 million units, in turn resulting in a 7.5% YoY decrease in smartphone production in India for the whole year.

In India, the second wave of COVID-19 has heavily impacted the middle and upper classes and weakened the sales of smartphones in 2Q21

India’s demographic dividend has generated an enormous demand in the domestic smartphone market. As well, the Indian government has been actively promoting domestic electronics manufacturing so as to boost the economy and create new job opportunities. On one hand, the Indian government has instituted a more restrictive tariff policy to force the localization of the supply chain. On the other hand, it is offering incentives to international smartphone brands so that they will expand the share of local device production. According to local news, people from the more affluent middle and upper classes are being hit the hardest by the second wave. This development will directly impact the country’s smartphone market in 2Q21 by weakening domestic consumer demand and in turn causing a drop in the ASP of smartphones. Smartphone brands are therefore expected to closely monitor their inventories of whole devices and adjust their subsequent production plans accordingly.

The top four smartphone brands in India, which are Xiaomi, OPPO, Samsung, and Vivo, with respective market shares of 25%, 23%, 22%, and 16%, collectively account for about 86% of the country’s total sales. As these brands primarily focus on the US$100-$250 product segment, the worsening pandemic has had an impact on all of them. With regards to manufacturing operations, most factories are reportedly operating normally without being disrupted by the pandemic. However, the accelerated spread of the coronavirus may adversely affect the lower and middle classes, who comprise the vast majority of the labor force. Should the health crisis in India remain unaddressed, TrendForce believes that the country’s import/export operations may come to a standstill as a result, and transportation of key smartphone components may also be disrupted.

On the whole, if the pandemic were to remain uncontained in India throughout 2Q21, then the country’s economic outlook for 2H21 would likely be less than optimistic, and there would be a further reduction in global smartphone production for the year. If these developments were to take place, then TrendForce proposes a “bear case scenario” in which the global smartphone production for the year increases by less than 8% YoY.

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 lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-04-28

Foundry Revenue Projected to Reach Historical High of US$94.6 Billion in 2021 Thanks to High 5G/HPC/End-Device Demand, Says TrendForce

As the global economy enters the post-pandemic era, technologies including 5G, WiFi6/6E, and HPC (high-performance computing) have been advancing rapidly, in turn bringing about a fundamental, structural change in the semiconductor industry as well, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. While the demand for certain devices such as notebook computers and TVs underwent a sharp uptick due to the onset of the stay-at-home economy, this demand will return to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic has been brought under control as a result of the global vaccination drive.

Nevertheless, the worldwide shift to next-gen telecommunication standards has brought about a replacement demand for telecom and networking devices, and this demand will continue to propel the semiconductor industry, resulting in high capacity utilization rates across the major foundries. As certain foundries continue to expand their production capacities this year, TrendForce expects total foundry revenue to reach a historical high of US$94.6 billion this year, an 11% growth YoY.

TrendForce’s latest analysis also finds that shipments and production volumes of end products will continue to grow in the post-pandemic period. Regarding host computers, the total (or global) shipments of servers and workstations are forecasted to undergo a yearly growth mainly driven by applications that are enabled by 5G and HPC. As for various types of client (or end-user) devices, the annual total production volume of 5G smartphones, in particular, is forecasted to increase by around 113% YoY. The penetration rate of 5G models in the smartphone market is also forecasted to rise to 37% in the same year. Turning to notebook (or laptop) computers, their total shipments in 2021 will register a YoY growth rate of about 15% thanks to the proliferation of the stay-at-home economy.

Finally, the governments of many countries introduced consumption subsidies during the pandemic so as to stimulate the domestic economy. Video streaming services have also grown dramatically with respect to content and demand because of the pandemic. As a result, the TV market is seeing a wave of replacement demand as consumers want to purchase the latest models that offer higher resolutions (e.g., 4K and 8K) and network connectivity (i.e., smart TVs). The total shipments of digital TVs in 2021 are forecasted to undergo a YoY growth rate of around 3%.

The high demand for the aforementioned end devices has therefore resulted in a corresponding surging demand for various ICs used in these devices, including CIS, DDI, and PMICs. In addition, the increasing adoption of cloud services, including IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, has also generated a massive demand for various high-end CPUs and memory products used in the HPC platforms that power said cloud services.

On the whole, TrendForce believes that, with demand maintaining a healthy growth momentum for many kinds of end products, semiconductor components that are manufactured with the same foundry nodes will be competing for production capacity. Some categories of ICs will therefore experience a more severe capacity crunch due to the product mix strategies of respective foundries. In the short term, no effective resolution is expected for the undersupply situation in the foundry market.

Certain foundries will continue to expand their production capacities in 2021 as the semiconductor industry undergoes a structural change

With regards to the expansion plans of various foundries this year, tier-one and tier-two foundries will prioritize the development of different process nodes. More specifically, tier-one foundries, including TSMC and Samsung, will focus on the R&D, fab build-out, and capacity expansion for the 5nm and below nodes in response to the growing chip demand for HPC-related applications. On the other hand, tier-two foundries, including SMIC, UMC, and GlobalFoundries will primarily focus on expanding their production capacities of the 14nm to 40nm mature process nodes in order to meet the massive demand for next-gen telecom technologies (such as 5G and WiFi6/6E) and other diverse applications (such as OLED DDI and CIS/ISP).

Incidentally, it should be pointed out that SMIC’s capacity expansion plans have been constrained after the US Department of Commerce added SMIC to the Entity List, which prohibited the company from procuring US semiconductor equipment. However, SMIC still possesses enough funds for procuring non-US equipment and building new fabs, as the company is not only actively expanding its existing 8-inch and 12-inch wafer capacities, but also proceeding with the construction of its new fab in Beijing.

Apart from the aforementioned companies, other foundries, including PSMC, Tower Semiconductor, Vanguard, and HHGrace, will prioritize the capacity expansion of their 8-inch wafers (which are used for the 55nm and above nodes) to meet the demand for large-sized DDI, TDDI, and PMICs. These foundries, in contrast with their larger competitors, are primarily focusing on 8-inch capacity expansion due to the relatively high cost of DUV immersion systems used for the 40/45nm and below processes. For these companies, it is much more economically feasible to instead undertake capacity expansions for the 55/65nm and above nodes.

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 lattechung@trendforce.com

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