SMIC


2021-09-30

When will the chip shortage be resolved? According to TrendForce: 2H22

This year sees the continuation of the persistent chip shortage, which entails a shortage of production capacity for not only 12-inch wafers fabricated with mature process technologies but also 8-inch wafers in particular. The shortage of 8-inch wafer production capacity initially began gestating in 2H19, owing to emerging demand from structural changes in the semiconductor industry, with 5G smartphones and PMICs used in new energy vehicles as two examples of such demand. At the same time, the consumption of semiconductor production capacity has also increased multiplicatively in recent years as a result of the aforementioned structural changes. TrendForce expects demand for semiconductor capacity from emerging applications to continue rising in the coming years.

In response to this emerging demand, foundries such as TSMC, UMC, and SMIC are currently expanding their investment in mature process technologies. TrendForce expects the industry’s total 8-inch wafer capacity to grow at a 3-5% CAGR from 2019 to 2023, while 12-inch wafer capacity is expected to grow at an 11-13% CAGR across the same period. It should be pointed out that production capacities allocated to the 0.18-0.11µm process nodes(for 8-inch wafer fabrication) and 55nm-12nm nodes(for 12-inch wafer fabrication)represent the most severe shortage among all process nodes. Hence, certain foundries are expected to gradually install additional production capacities for mature process technologies in 2H22-1H23. These installations will likely help address the ongoing chip shortage.

In addition, several foundries are focusing on expanding their 28nm manufacturing capacity, primarily because transistor architecture below the 20nm node requires a transition to FinFET architecture, which is relatively costly. The 28nm node represents the sweet spot in terms of cost/benefit and is widely used for manufacturing such mainstream products as notebook Wi-Fi chips, smartphone OLED driver ICs, automotive MCUs, and image signal processors. Furthermore, chips used for IoT applications, including smart home appliances and set-top boxes, as well as other products currently manufactured at the 40nm node will likely be migrated to 28nm manufacturing, meaning the demand for 28nm capacity will continue to grow going forward.

(Image credit: Pixabay)

2021-08-31

Foundry Revenue for 2Q21 Reaches Historical High Once Again with 6% QoQ Growth Thanks to Increased ASP and Persistent Demand, Says TrendForce

The panic buying of chips persisted in 2Q21 owing to factors such as post-pandemic demand, industry-wide shift to 5G telecom technology, geopolitical tensions, and chronic chip shortages, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Chip demand from ODMs/OEMs remained high, as they were unable to meet shipment targets for various end-products due to the shortage of foundry capacities. In addition, wafers inputted in 1Q21 underwent a price hike and were subsequently outputted in 2Q21. Foundry revenue for the quarter reached US$24.407 billion, representing a 6.2% QoQ increase and yet another record high for the eighth consecutive quarter since 3Q19.

Revenue growths of TSMC and Samsung were slightly hindered by power outages at their respective fabs

For 2Q21, TSMC once again comfortably dwarfed other foundries with a revenue of US$13.3 billion, a 3.1% QoQ increase. TSMC’s relatively muted growth can be attributed to several factors, the most prominent of which was a power outage that occurred in TSMC’s Fab14 P7, located in the Southern Taiwan Science Park, in April. The power outage subsequently caused some wafers at the 40nm and 16nm nodes to be discarded. TSMC’s fab in the Southern Taiwan Science Park suffered yet another disruption when Taipower’s Kaohsiung-based Hsinta Power Plant temporarily went offline in May. Although the fab immediately resumed operations via its emergency power generators so that no wafers in the production lines were discarded, certain wafers still needed to be reworked. Finally, TSMC maintained its longstanding strategy of giving consistent price quotes for its foundry services. Hence, although the foundry’s revenue for 2Q21 exceeded the upper end of its prior financial guidance, its revenue for the quarter underwent a slightly lower QoQ growth compared to other foundries, and it also lost some market share to competitors.

Samsung’s revenue for 2Q21 reached US$4.33 billion, a 5.5% QoQ increase. After recovering from the winter storm that swept Texas in February, Samsung’s Austin-based Line S2 fab fully resumed its manufacturing operations in April. The fab is now operating at fully loaded capacities by manufacturing for additional client orders in order to compensate for the 1.5-month loss in wafer input from idling as a result of the winter storm. Although the sharp drop in wafer input in 1Q21 somewhat constrained Samsung’s output and revenue growth for 2Q21, the foundry still managed to post a 5.5% QoQ revenue growth thanks to strong client demand for CIS, 5G RF transceivers, and OLED driver ICs. Owing to persistently high demand for PMIC, TDDI, Wi-Fi, and OLED driver IC products, UMC, ranked third on the top 10 list, operated at a capacity utilization rate surpassing 100%, and its output severely lagged behind client demand. In response, UMC continued to raise its quotes. In addition, newly installed production capacities at the 28/22nm nodes, which have a relatively high ASP, gradually became available for wafer input in 2Q21, resulting in a 5% QoQ increase in UMC’s blended ASP for 2Q21. The foundry saw its market share remaining relatively unchanged from the previous quarter at 7.2% and posted a revenue of US$1.82 billion, an 8.5% QoQ increase.

Fourth-ranked GlobalFoundries posted a revenue of US$1.52 billion for 2Q21, a 17.0% QoQ increase. After selling its US-based Fab10 and Singapore-based Fab3E to ON Semi and VIS, respectively, in 2019, GlobalFoundries has been gradually consolidating its existing product lines and focusing on the development of 14/12nm FinFET, 22/12nm FD-SOI, and 55/40nm HV and BCD technology platforms. At the same time, GlobalFoundries has also announced that it will expand its current production capacities by building new US-based and Singapore-based fabs, which are expected to contribute to GlobalFoundries’ earnings starting in the 2H22-2023 period. On the other hand, although GlobalFoundries has already sold its Fab10 to ON Semi, the former continues to manufacture products for the latter at Fab10 across the 2020-2021 period. ON Semi will not independently operate the fab until the transfer of ownership is finalized in 2022. SMIC likewise grew its revenue for 2Q21 by a remarkable 21.8% to US$1.34 billion and raised its market share to 5.3%. SMIC’s growth took place due to strong client demand for various technologies including 0.15/0.18µm PMIC, 55/40nm MCU, RF, HV, and CIS, as well as a continued increase in its ASP. Owing to better-than-expected adoption of its 14nm technology by new clients, SMIC is operating at a fully loaded capacity of 15K wspm at the moment.

While VIS leapfrogged Tower on the top 10 list, HuaHong Group, inclusive of subsidiaries HHGrace and HLMC, took sixth place

HuaHong Group subsidiaries HHGrace and HLMC have been operating Fab1/2/3/7 and Fab5/6, respectively and sharing certain manufacturing resources. Hence, TrendForce will from now on combine the two subsidiaries’ revenues into a single item, listed as HuaHong Group. In particular, capacity expansion at HH Fab7, operated by Hua Hong Wuxi, proceeded ahead of expectations, with client demand for NOR Flash, CIS, RF, and IGBT products remaining strong. Not only is HH Fab7’s production capacity of 48K wspm currently fully loaded, but HuaHong Group’s 8-inch fabs have all been operating at a capacity utilization rate of more than 100%. Thanks to a 3-5% QoQ increase in HuaHong Group’s blended ASP for 8-inch wafers, HuaHong Group’s revenue for 2Q21 reached US$658 million, a 9.7% QoQ increase, placing the foundry squarely in the number six spot.

After leapfrogging Tower in the revenue rankings in 1Q21 for the first time ever, PSMC maintained its strong growth in 2Q21 partially owing to continued wafer starts for specialty DRAM, DDI, CIS, and PMIC in its P1/2/3 fabs. At the same time, there was a massive hike in demand for automotive chips, such as IGBT, manufactured at PSMC’s Fab 8A and Fab 8B. In view of quarterly increases in PSMC’s overall ASP, the foundry posted US$459 million in revenue for 2Q21, an 18.3% QoQ increase, and took the seventh spot in the rankings. VIS benefitted from a host of factors in 2Q21, including persistent demand for DDI, PMIC, and power discretes; newly installed capacities in the Singapore-based Fab3E ready for production; adjustments in the foundry’s product mix; and an overall ASP hike. VIS’ revenue for 2Q21 reached US$363 million, which represented not only an 11.1% QoQ increase, but also the first time VIS overtook Tower in terms of revenue.

Although ninth-ranked Tower benefitted from stable demand for RF-SOI products, industrial PMIC, and automotive PMIC, the foundry’s newly installed capacities were not entirely ready for mass production, and its revenue therefore underwent a modest 4.3% QoQ increase for 2Q21 to US$362 million. On the other hand, DBHiTek had been operating at fully loaded capacities for more than 18 months. While client demand for PMIC, MEMS, and CIS products manufactured with 8-inch wafers made consistent contributions to the foundry’s earnings, most of DBHiTek’s revenue growth for 2Q21 took place due to the rise in its ASP. DBHiTek’s revenue for 2Q21 reached US245 million, a 12.0% QoQ increase.

As of 3Q21, the shortage of foundry capacities that began in 2H19 has persisted and intensified for nearly two years. Although newly installed capacities from certain foundries have become gradually available for production, the increase in production capacity has been relatively limited, and these additional capacities have been fully booked by clients, as indicated by TrendForce’s investigation into orders placed by foundry clients. All major foundries currently operate at fully loaded capacities, though their production still lags behind market demand. Furthermore, wafer inputs for automotive chips have been skyrocketing since 2Q21 due to major pushes by governments worldwide, in turn constraining the available production capacities for other chips. As a result, foundries are continuing to raise their blended ASPs and adjusting their product mixes in order to further optimize profits. TrendForce therefore believes that the combined revenues of the top 10 foundries will reach a record high in 3Q21 by undergoing a wider QoQ growth compared to 2Q21.

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

2021-07-07

For Importation of US Semiconductor Equipment into China, Slow Progress Is Good Progress

The inclusion of certain Chinese semiconductor companies on the US Commerce Department’s Entity List in the past few years has created repercussions throughout industries and markets, with the semiconductor industry coming under heavy scrutiny by both China and the US. After SMIC was hit with a string of sanctions last year, including the EAR and the NS-CCMC List, recent rumors of further US actions on China are now once again making the rounds on social media platforms.

In particular, there have been rumors saying that the US has prohibited TSMC and UMC from importing 28nm process technology equipment into China for their fabs there. Conversely, some industry insiders from China point out that, although the US did not impose such prohibition, the export approval process for the aforementioned equipment has been conspicuously lengthy.

In reality, the Department of Commerce has levied procurement restrictions on SMIC specifically, while foundries unspecified on the Entity List have not been explicitly barred from importing semiconductor equipment for use in their China-based fabs. Although some are noting that the approval processes for semiconductor equipment exported to fabs located in China have been unusually lengthy recently, these processes are not specifically aimed at equipment for the 28nm process technology.

Instead, they apply to all semiconductor equipment exported from the US to China. It should also be noted that the approval processes for some exported equipment are currently progressing well, and foundries have already taken the extended lead times into account, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Hence, the lengthy approval processes have not been observed to have any negative impact on the semiconductor industry at the moment.

(Cover image source: ASML

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

2021-03-05

Progress in Importation of US Equipment Dispels Doubts on SMIC’s Capacity Expansion for Mature Nodes for Now, Says TrendForce

The major suppliers of WFE (wafer fab equipment) in the US are progressing smoothly in the application for license from the US government for the exportation of equipment systems, equipment parts, and customer services for 14nm and above processes to Chinese foundry SMIC. The US-based equipment suppliers that are applying for the license include Applied Materials, Lam Research, KLA-Tencor, and Axcelis. TrendForce believes that as some support from US-based equipment suppliers is forthcoming, SMIC should be able to continue its efforts in the optimization of the mature process modules and overcoming production bottlenecks to avoid a scission in raw materials and spare parts, and predicts the company to sit at a global market share of 4.2% in 2021. Keeping SMIC in operation will provide a bit of relief to the capacity crunch in the global foundry market, however, the tightening of the available production capacity will remain a challenge that is difficult to resolve for the foundry industry as a whole. Also, the US government continues to prohibit SMIC from obtaining the equipment of the advanced nodes that are 10nm and below, and the particular restriction poses a potential risk for the long-term development of the Chinese foundry.

SMIC Continues to Expand Domestic Demand and Localization under China’s Explicit Direction in Long-Term Development of Semiconductor

As the fifth largest IC foundry in the world, SMIC obtains over 70% of revenue from China and Asia-Pacific. In terms of process node perspectives, 0.18um, 55nm, and 40nm contribute to the majority of revenue that totaled to over 80% from being applied on service platforms such as logic, BCD, eFlash, sensor, RF, and HV, and the coordination with the IC projects listed in the 13th and 14th Five-Year Plan of China will continue to enhance on the assimilation of localized WFE (wafer fab equipment) and raw materials.

The sanctions imposed by the US Department of Commerce that have affected the long-term planning in production capacity and development strategies of SMIC are expected to result in a YoY declination of 25% in the capital expenditure of 2021 for the Chinese foundry. SMIC intends to allocate the majority of its capital expenditure to capacity expansion for the mature nodes and the construction of a new joint-venture fab in Beijing, and is conservative towards investing in advanced process technology such as FinFET. TrendForce believes that geopolitical factors and uncertainties in the WFE section of the supply chain have compelled SMIC to scale back its capital expenditure and shift its development focus to the 55/40nm and 0.18um nodes.

A breakdown of SMIC’s revenue by region shows that more than 50% comes from China, though whether major global clients are willing to continue placing their orders with SMIC under the consideration of foundry selection and long-term cooperation amidst the unabated status in the semiconductor competition between China and the US will be a focus of observation going forward. Pertaining to the return on investment for technology scaling and mature node, the development planning in advanced processes for SMIC no longer succumb to immediacy in demand under restricted client conditions and constraints from subcontractors. On the other hand, the resources for chiplet and specialty IC that exert better functions for the operation of the company are focused on the existing 14nm and above matured processes to enhance on PDK (process design kits) for clients that may create a business model with prolonged profitability, as well as preserve R&D staffs and future growth dynamics.

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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