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Press Releases
Total NAND Flash Revenue Drops 2.1% QoQ in 4Q21 Due to Slowing Demand and Falling Prices, Says TrendForce

2022/02/22

Semiconductors

In 4Q21, NAND Flash bit shipments grew by only 33% QoQ, a significant decrease from the nearly 10% in 3Q21, according to TrendForce’s investigations ASP fell by nearly 5% and the overall industry posted revenue of US$185 billion, a QoQ decrease of 21% This was primarily due to a decline in the purchase demand of various products and a market shift to oversupply causing a drop in contract prices In 4Q21, with the exception of enterprise SSD, the supply of which was limited by insufficient upstream components, the prices of other NAND Flash products such as eMMC, UFS, and client SSD, all fell TrendForce’s summary of NAND Flash market sales performance in 2021 is as follows: although there have been signs of weakening since 2H21, thanks to remote services and cloud demand driven by the pandemic, revenue performance still grew significantly compared to 2020 Revenue reached US$686 billion, up 211% YoY, the second-biggest increase since 2018 NAND Flash revenue fell for most manufactures in 4Q21 due to PC OEM destocking There were some changes to the top three NAND Flash revenue rankings in 4Q21 compared 3Q21, Samsung and Kioxia remained in the top two while third place was replaced by Western Digital (WDC) Although there was still demand coming from data centers, as PC OEMs continued to deplete client SSD inventories and demand from China's smartphone market weakened, stocking momentum was affected by component mismatch issues, resulting in a decline of approximately 5% in Samsung Electronics' bit shipments in 4Q21 After the market shifted to oversupply, ASP also fell by approximately 5%, leading to Samsung Electronics posting 4Q21 revenue of US$6110 billion, a QoQ decrease of 61% Second ranked Kioxia continued seeing strong demand from data center clients in 4Q21 but this was offset by inventory adjustment and reduced purchasing on the part of PC OEMs Bit shipments declined slightly by 1% and ASP remained flat even in the face of weakening market demand, which was better performance than that of other suppliers in the same period Revenue in 4Q21 reached US$3543 billion, a QoQ decrease of 26% WDC was another company that benefited from continued strong stocking demand from major US smartphone clients for new 5G flagship phones which offset the impact of weak client and enterprise SSD sales, for bit shipment growth of 13% However, as the proportion of consumer goods grew, ASP declined by 6% WDC’s NAND Flash division posted 4Q21 revenue of US$262 billion, a QoQ increase of 52% Benefiting from continued stocking from data center clients and US-based smartphone brands, SK hynix's bit shipment growth remained above 10%, in line with original forecasts However, ASP was affected by weaker mobile phone shipments in China and inventory adjustment at PC OEMs Pricing fell by nearly 10% which offset overall growth momentum Revenue posted by SK hynix's NAND Flash division in 4Q21 increased by 28% to US$2615 billion Micron was similarly affected by inventory adjustments undertaken on the part of PC OEMs and data center clients  Although Micron's 176-layer products continue to be adopted, shipments in 4Q21 were flat compared to 3Q21 and ASP fell approximately 5% as the growth rate of supply outpaced demand, leading to a decline of 47% in Micron's 4Q21 NAND Flash revenue to US$1878 billion Solidigm's 4Q21 production capacity was still being affected by the impact of supply chains (such as PMIC supply) on enterprise SSD, resulting in a continued decline in bit shipments of nearly 5% in 4Q21 At the same time, while orders for laptops are still strong, Solidigm actively increased bits shipments of PC QLC SSDs in order to reduce production capacity, causing a drop in ASP and a 4Q21 NAND Flash revenue performance of only US$996 million, a 99% decline Looking forward to 1Q22, TrendForce states that with the advent of the demand off-season, demand for major applications will show a seasonal decline, exacerbating the phenomenon of oversupply and driving the contract price of products to fall further Falling prices and shrinking volume is expected to further reduce the revenue level of the NAND Flash industry Referencing information released by TrendForce on Feb 10, it is worth noting that market expectant psychological factors in 2Q22 generated from the previous Kioxia and WDC raw material pollution incidents will change the supply and demand situation after February and certain products with additional orders and non-quarterly contract prices will immediately reflect a pricing increase This will help reduce the decline in the output value of NAND Flash in 1Q22 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@trendforcecom For additional insights from TrendForce analysts on the latest tech industry news, trends, and forecasts, please visit our blog at https://insidertrendforcecom/

Press Releases
Overall DRAM Output Decreased Nearly 6% QoQ in 4Q21 Due to Decline in Shipments and Pricing, Says TrendForce

2022/02/17

Semiconductors

The pandemic has impeded the supply of many end-user devices such as smartphones, servers, PCs, and niche consumer electronics components, indirectly leading to a decline in a willingness on the procurement-end to stock relatively abundant memory chips, according to TrendForce research This is most obvious in the stance of PC OEMs holding more than 10 weeks or more of DRAM inventory Therefore, most DRAM fabs experienced a drop in shipments in the fourth quarter of 2021 and declining purchasing momentum has also led to a downward trend in DRAM price quotations Total 4Q21 DRAM output value decreased by 58% QoQ, reaching US$2503 billion, with only a few suppliers such as SK hynix bucking this trend Looking forward to 1Q22, although material shortages for some components can be alleviated, the first quarter is already an off season for demand and buyers’ inventories are still flush Thus, the purchasing-side will largely concentrate on destocking, with overall purchasing momentum remaining sluggish Thus, DRAM pricing in the first quarter of this year is expected to face greater pressure than in the fourth quarter of last year and overall DRAM output value may fall further 4Q21 DRAM price drop causes downturn in manufacturer profit levels In terms of revenue performance, price quotations from the three major DRAM manufacturers all declined with slightly differing shipments trends Shipments from both Samsung and Micron fell due to poor end-user demand, with revenue down 9% and 8%, respectively In terms of market share, Samsung dropped slightly to 423% while still ranking first, SK hynix climbed to nearly 30%, ranking second, and Micron dropped slightly to 223%  Pricing gaps between these three DRAM manufacturers in 1Q22 is expected to be narrow, but since SK hynix had a relatively high base period of shipment in the 4Q21, the company expects a decline in its shipments slightly higher than the industry average which will reduce its 1Q22 market share slightly In terms of profit performance, the operating profit margins of Samsung, SK hynix, and Micron (September-November financial reporting) fell to 50%, 45%, and 41%, respectively, due to the cost optimization resulting from an increase in the proportion of advanced processes not being  enough to make up for the decline in price quotations TrendForce believes that the downturn trend in profit margins is likely to intensify in 1Q22 and DRAM suppliers will face sharper profit decline Manufacturers can only increase the proportion of advanced processes and optimize their product portfolio to reduce the impact brought on by price pressure  Specialty DRAM market conditions also weak in 4Q21, with Taiwanese manufacturer revenue falling as well As the demand for specialty DRAM end-user applications such as TVs and consumer electronics products dropped significantly in 4Q21, coupled with the impact of material shortages in the supply chain, client demand for DRAM shipments also cooled substantially The 4Q21 specialty DRAM price decline was also comparable to that of mainstream products, in turn impacting the revenue performance of Taiwanese manufacturers focused mainly on the consumer market From the perspective of Nanya Tech, the combination of falling volume and price reduced its revenue in 4Q21 by approximately 10%, while its operating profit rate fell to 375% due to the decline in price quotations Winbond's small-capacity (1/2Gb) market was also affected by components mismatch issues, but the impact was relatively small and its 4Q21 revenue fell slightly by close to 4% PSMC’s (revenue calculation is primarily based on its self-produced standard DRAM products and does not include its DRAM foundry business) revenue fell slightly by approximately 1% If its foundry revenue is added, then its revenue grew by 6%, reversing a downward trend This demonstrates that locking-in long-term contracts early is a good strategy Faced with reversal in the DRAM market, it is TrendForce’s understanding that the solutions of the three major Taiwanese manufacturers are as follows: Nanya Tech can allocate 20nm production capacity to produce DDR3 (better gross profit) when DDR4 market conditions are poor and invest more resources in the research and development of new 1X nm processes  If yield improves rapidly, this will provide some contribution before the completion of its new factory in 2024 In addition to continuing to focus on niche small-capacity products, Winbond is also strengthening research and development of 25 nm and next-generation 20 nm products, expected to be introduced directly when its Kaohsiung Lujhu factory starts mass production As for PSMC, by locking clients into long-term contracts, it can plan 2022 production in advance and continue to maximize its greatest advantages In accordance with market conditions and gross profit levels, it will allocate production capacity between logic IC and memory products 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@trendforcecom For additional insights from TrendForce analysts on the latest tech industry news, trends, and forecasts, please visit our blog at https://insidertrendforcecom/

Press Releases
Intel Kills Two Birds with One Stone as Tower Acquisition Strengthens Mature Process Platforms and Regional Production Capabilities, Says TrendForce

2022/02/16

Semiconductors

Intel officially confirmed on February 15 that it will acquire Israeli foundry Tower Semiconductor for nearly US$6 billion, and the deal will likely contribute to the growth of Intel’s foundry business if it reaches a successful conclusion, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations Tower was 9th place in the global ranking of foundries by revenue for 4Q21 and operates a total of seven production sites across Israel, the US, and Japan Tower’s foundry capacity in 12-inch wafer equivalents accounts for about 3% of the global total The majority share of Tower’s foundry capacity is for 8-inch wafers, and Tower’s share of the global 8-inch wafer foundry capacity is around 62% Regarding manufacturing process platforms, Tower offers nodes ranging from 08µm to 65nm It has a diverse range of specialty process technologies for manufacturing products in relatively small quantities Products that Tower has been contracted to manufacture are mostly RF-SOI components, PMICs, CMOS sensors, discretes, etc As such, the Tower acquisition is expected to help Intel expand its presence in the smartphone, industrial equipment, and automotive electronics markets Although Intel undertook a series of business strategies to compete with TSMC and Samsung, IFS (Intel Foundry Services) has historically manufactured with platform technologies for processors such as CPUs and GPUs Furthermore, competition still persists between Intel and certain foundry clients that require advanced processes below the 10nm node, such as AMD and Nvidia, which have long histories of developing server products, PC CPUs, GPUs, or other HPC-related chips Intel’s preexisting competitive relationship with these companies may become a barrier to IFS’ future expansion because IFS will be relatively unlikely to attract them as customers Taking the aforementioned factors into account, TrendForce believes that the Tower acquisition will likely expand IFS’ business presence in the foundry industry through two considerations First of all, the acquisition will help Intel both diversify its mature process technologies and expand its clientele Thanks to advancements in communication technologies and an increase in demand for new energy vehicles, there has been a recent surge in demand for RF-SOI components and PMICs Tower's long-term focus on the diverse mature process technologies used to manufacture these products means it also possesses a long-term collaborative relationship with clients in such markets By acquiring Tower, Intel is therefore able to address IFS' limited foundry capabilities and limited clientele The second consideration pertains to the indigenization of semiconductor manufacturing and supply allocations, which have become increasingly important issues in light of current geopolitical situations As Tower operates fabs in Asia, EMEA, and North America, the acquisition is in line with Intel’s current strategic aim to reduce the disproportionate concentration of the foundry industry’s supply chain in Asia As well, Intel holds long-term investments and operates fabs in both the US and Israel, so the Tower acquisition will give Intel more flexibility in allocating production capacities, thereby further mitigating risks of potential supply chain disruptions arising from geopolitical conflicts In addition to the aforementioned synergy derived from acquiring Tower, it should also be pointed out that Intel is set to welcome an upcoming partnership with Nuvoton Tower’s three Japan-based fabs were previously operated under TowerJazz Panasonic Semiconductor, a joint venture created by Tower and Panasonic in 2014, with Tower and Panasonic each possessing 51% and 49% ownership, respectively After Nuvoton acquired PSCS (Panasonic Semiconductor Solutions Co) in 2020, Panasonic’s 49% ownership of the three fabs was subsequently transferred to Nuvoton Following Intel’s Tower acquisition, Intel will now possess the 51% majority ownership of the fabs and jointly operate their production lines for industrial MCUs, automotive MCUs, and PMICs along with Nuvoton Notably, these production lines also span the range of CIS, MCU, and MOSFET technologies previously developed by Panasonic 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@trendforcecom For additional insights from TrendForce analysts on the latest tech industry news, trends, and forecasts, please visit our blog at https://insidertrendforcecom/

Press Releases
With an Assist from Oculus Quest 2, 2022 AR/VR Device Shipments Revised Up to 14.19 Million Units, Says TrendForce

2022/02/16

Consumer Electronics

AR/VR device shipments revised up to 1419 million units in 2022, with an annual growth rate of 439%, according to TrendForce research Growth momentum will come from increased demand for remote interactivity stemming from the pandemic, as well as Oculus Quest 2’s price reduction strategy Microsoft HoloLens 2 and Oculus Quest 2 are first in market share for AR and VR, respectively According to TrendForce, the topic of the Metaverse has driven brands to actively plan for and stimulate product shipment performance However, the AR/VR device market has yet to experienced explosive growth due to two factors: component shortages and the difficulty of developing new technologies In addition, cosmetic and size considerations have made the more optically and technically difficult Pancake design the first choice for new high-end products Furthermore, various embedded tracking feedback technologies key to enhancing the user's immersive experience such as eye tracking and 6DoF further affect the development progress of a new product as a whole Since there are no new foreboding products on the horizon, TrendForce believes, no other branded products have a chance at supplanting the current mainstream status of Oculus or Microsoft until at least 2023 The Oculus Quest 2, which costs between US$200 and US$400, is currently the most popular AR/VR device in the consumer market TrendForce expects Oculus to launch an advanced version of the Quest product within two years, reaching a hardware performance equivalent of US$700 or down to a retail price of US$500 with discounts This product is expected to expand the size of the high-end consumer AR/VR market The commercial market is dominated by the HoloLens 2 which costs more than US$1,000 and upwards of US$3,500 Since the commercial market places more emphasis on the benefits of hardware and software integration, manufacturers that dominate commercial systems, software, and platforms have the advantage Thus, Apple has become another focus in the AR/VR device market Strong shipments of Oculus and Microsoft products will likely force Apple to release relevant products to join the competition this year However, TrendForce states, considering hardware performance requirements and gross profit margins, Apple will likely target the commercial market and adopt the same pricing strategy as HoloLens, hardware priced in the thousands of dollars and a monthly subscription-based software solution Overall, TrendForce believes that the launch of new products this year by Apple, Meta, and Sony may be delayed and will not add significant growth to the overall AR/VR market for the time being For additional insights from TrendForce analysts on the latest tech industry news, trends, and forecasts, please visit our blog at https://insidertrendforcecom/

Press Releases
Ukrainian-Russian Conflict Affects Semiconductor Gas Supply and May Cause Rise in Chip Production Costs, Says TrendForce

2022/02/15

Semiconductors

Ukraine is a major supplier of raw material gases for semiconductors including neon, argon, krypton, and xenon, according to TrendForce’s investigations Ukraine supplies nearly 70% of the world's neon gas capacity Although the proportion of neon gas used in semiconductor processes is not as high as in other industries, it is still a necessary resource If the supply of materials is cut off, there will be an impact on the industry TrendForce believes that, although the Ukrainian-Russian conflict may affect the supply of inert gas regionally, semiconductor factories and gas suppliers are stocked and there are still supplies from other regions Thus, gas production line interruptions in Ukraine will not halt semiconductor production lines in the short term However, the reduction in gas supply will likely lead to higher prices which may increase the cost of wafer production Inert gases are primarily used in semiconductor lithography processes When the circuit feature size is reduced to below 220nm, it begins to enter the territory of DUV (deep ultraviolet) light source excimer lasers The wavelength of the DUV light generated by the energy beam advances circuit feature sizes to below 180nm The inert gas mixture required in the DUV excimer laser contains neon gas Neon gas is indispensable in this mixture and, thus, difficult to replace The semiconductor lithography process that requires neon gas is primarily DUV exposure, and encompasses 8-inch wafer 180nm to 12-inch wafer 1Xnm nodes TrendForce research shows, in terms of foundries, global production capacity at the 180~1Xnm nodes accounts for approximately 75% of total capacity Except for TSMC and Samsung, who provide advanced EUV processes, for most fabs, the proportion of revenue attributed to the 180~1Xnm nodes exceeds 90% In addition, the manufacturing processes of components in extreme short supply since 2020, including PMIC, Wi-Fi, RFIC, and MCU all fall within the 180~1Xnm node range In terms of DRAM, in addition to Micron, Korean manufacturers are gradually increasing the proportion of 1alpha nm nodes (using the EUV process) but more than 90% of production capacity still employs the DUV process  In addition, all NAND Flash capacity utilizes DUV lithography technology

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