Demand for DRAM exceeded expectations in 1Q21 as the proliferation of WFH and distance education resulted in high demand for notebook computers against market headwinds, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Also contributing to the increased DRAM demand was Chinese smartphone brands’ ramp-up of component procurement while these companies, including OPPO, Vivo, and Xiaomi, attempted to seize additional market shares after Huawei’s inclusion on the Entity List. Finally, DRAM demand from server manufacturers also saw a gradual recovery. Taken together, these factors led to higher-than-expected shipments from various DRAM suppliers in 1Q21 despite the frequent shortage of such key components as IC and passive components. On the other hand, DRAM prices also entered an upward trajectory in 1Q21 in accordance with TrendForce’s previous forecasts. In light of the increases in both shipments and quotes, all DRAM suppliers posted revenue growths in 1Q21, and overall DRAM revenue for the quarter reached US$19.2 billion, an 8.7% growth QoQ.
TrendForce’s investigations find that DRAM suppliers and major PC OEMs are currently participating in the critical period of negotiating with each other over contract prices for 2Q21. Although these negotiations have yet to be finalized, the ASP of mainstream DDR4 1G*8 2666Mbps modules has already increased by nearly 25% QoQ as of now, according to data on ongoing transactions. This represents a higher price hike than TrendForce's prior forecast of “nearly 20%”. On the other hand, prices are likewise rising across various DRAM product categories in 2Q21, including DDR3/4 specialty DRAM, mobile DRAM, graphics DRAM, and in particular server DRAM, which is highly related to PC DRAM and is therefore also undergoing a higher price hike than previously expected. TrendForce is therefore revising up its forecast of overall DRAM price hike for 2Q21 from 13-18% QoQ to 18-23% QoQ instead. However, the actual increase in prices of various DRAM product categories will depend on the production capacities allocated to the respective products by DRAM suppliers.
Thanks to their flexible pricing schemes and diverse service offerings, CSPs have been a direct, major driver of enterprise demand for cloud services, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. As such, the rise of CSPs have in turn brought about a gradual shift in the prevailing business model of server supply chains from sales of traditional branded servers (that is, server OEMs) to ODM Direct sales instead. Incidentally, the global public cloud market operates as an oligopoly dominated by North American companies including Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), which collectively possess an above-50% share in this market. More specifically, GCP and AWS are the most aggressive in their data center build-outs. Each of these two companies is expected to increase its server procurement by 25-30% YoY this year, followed closely by Azure.
TSMC’s Fab14 P7 in the Southern Taiwan Science Park suffered a power outage on April 14th. The cause of the power outage was an accidental severing of an underground power cable during construction work nearby. According to TrendForce’s latest investigations, the facility accounts for around 4% of TSMC’s total 12-inch wafer foundry capacity and around 2% of the global 12-inch wafer foundry capacity, and TSMC is still assessing the exact figures for the wafers that have to be scrapped and the wafers that can be reworked. According to the latest available information, power was fully restored to the fab site at 7:30 p.m. on April 14th. The diesel uninterruptible power supply (DUPS) of the facility kicked in instantly when the power cable was cut, but there was still a short period of power interruption and voltage drop. As a result, some of the equipment systems in the facility temporarily experienced operational irregularity or malfunction. Based on past experiences with this type of incident, TrendForce believes that it will take 2-7 days to recalibrate the equipment systems so that they can return to normal operation.
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.