Total NAND Flash revenue for 1Q21 increased by 5.1% QoQ to US$14.82 billion, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. In particular, bit shipments rose by 11% QoQ, while the overall ASP dropped by 5% QoQ; hence, bit shipment growth offset the decline in the overall ASP. Although NAND Flash demand from notebook computer and smartphone manufacturers remained high, clients from the data center segment exhibited relatively weak demand, since this segment had yet to leave the state of NAND Flash oversupply. Contract prices for this quarter therefore still mostly showed a considerable QoQ drop. On the other hand, OEMs/ODMs of end products began to increase procurement of NAND Flash products from the second half of January onward because they noticed that the shortage of NAND Flash controller ICs was affecting the production of medium- and low-density storage products. Besides avoiding a possible supply crunch in the future, OEMs/ODMs were placing additional orders because they were preparing for a push to expand market share. On account of these developments, the overall NAND Flash demand surpassed expectations in 1Q21.
Revenues of the top 10 largest packaging/testing (OSAT, outsourced semiconductor assembly and test) companies reached US$7.17 billion in 1Q21, a 21.5% increase YoY, with most of these companies recording double-digit growths, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. This bullish performance is primarily attributed to the fact that the post-pandemic new normal, which entails such activities as WFH and distance education, adopted by the general public had become commonplace, as well as the fact that vaccinations in Europe and North America began to somewhat abate the intensity of the pandemic in those areas, with cities successively terminating lockdown measures. Furthermore, demand for IT products, TVs, 5G devices, and automotive electronics persisted given the impending Tokyo Olympics. Finally, end-device manufacturers had been aggressively procuring components since 2H20, in turn leading to a tight production capacity for actors across the semiconductor supply chain. Hence, OSAT companies gradually increased their prices in response to strong demand from clients. Taken together, these aforementioned factors propelled the overall revenue performances from the OSAT industry in 1Q21.
The Hsinta Power Plant in Taiwan’s Kaohsiung City was shut down unexpectedly at 2:37 p.m. on May 13 (today local time) due to malfunction. The effect of this incident has been felt across the entire island. TrendForce has undertaken a swift survey on the damages and operation status of each supplier, and the results indicate that most DRAM and NAND Flash suppliers are provisioning power to their fabs normally; although some fabs experienced a reduction in voltage, this did not impact production. Regarding foundry, the Southern Taiwan Science Park located in Tainan sustained a relatively higher impact, with power outages occurring in some fabs, though the uninterruptible power supplies came into operation and ensured the power outage had only limited impact, according to preliminary investigations.
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.