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Press Releases
TrendForce Sees Technology, R&D and IP to be Key Challenges as China Readies to Implement Its DRAM Strategy

2015/06/16

Semiconductors

China’s massive efforts to develop a domestic DRAM industry have become more apparent since the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced the establishment of the National Integrated Circuitry Industry Investment Fund on October 14, 2014 With an initial size of 130 billion yuan RMB, the fund intends to gather all available resources for China’s IC sector through worldwide acquisitions and strategic alliances, according to DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce Ding Wenwu, the director-general of MIIT’s semiconductor sector division, has established a detailed plan on how to proceed with the development of the industry Moreover, he has chosen top industry professionals to evaluate the fund’s performance Thus, the investment criteria will be mainly based on technological, financial and human resources that local governments are able offer rather than political considerations  Chinese semiconductor companies will likely to see changes at the management level and shifts in strategic alliances once a national R&D team for the DRAM industry has been formally established The construction of fabrication plants will help create an industry cluster that will gradually draw semiconductor companies and high-level talents in IC design and manufacturing outside China into the country With the existing IC manufacturing bases and companies serving as the foundation for development, forthcoming investments projects will involve bringing the local leading talents together and forming alliances between semiconductor and IC design companies Partnerships with the global top three DRAM manufacturers may also be in the works  While Chinese government has capital and market, its success rests on technology, R&D teams and IP  DRAMeXchange expects China, with its huge war chest and immense home market, will enter the global semiconductor industry via DRAM manufacturing However, the established players – Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron – control much of the intellectual property (IP) assets, creating a high entry barrier for newcomers For the Chinese competitors, mergers and acquisitions are now the fastest way for them to catch up to the big three DRAM suppliers in IP development The partnership agreement between Intel and Spreadtrum is one such example The deal brings many-fold benefits to both companies as the former has the technological know-how and the latter has a dominant position in the China market The Chinese government’s all-out efforts to bring IP assets to its fledgling DRAM industry is again seen in the acquisition of the US-based Integrated Silicon Solutions Incorporated (ISSI) by SummitView Capital, a Chinese investment consortium After a protracted negotiation, SummitView bought ISSI for 21 US dollars per share on June 11, outbidding its rival Cypress Semiconductor’s 2025 US dollars per share  China also eagerly seeks Taiwan’s semiconductor industry as a partner since the island’s IC manufacturers offers a wealth of technologies and experiences Recently, senior officials from Chinese provinces and cities have made personal visits to Taiwanese companies related to DRAM design and production Aside from exploring possibilities for collaboration, the Chinese representatives are also considering recruiting local talents as they are known for their strong R&D capabilities and top-tier global connections  DRAMeXchange’s latest research finds that with China set on developing its DRAM industry, its next few steps will be crucial Acquiring partners with the right technologies, experienced R&D teams, and IP assets will determine the schedule of mass production for DRAM products in China And this in turn will determine the overall result of the state’s policy Unlike NAND flash products, which can be used for lower-end products if the quality is subpar, DRAM products cannot be of poor quality regardless of their density When the manufacturing technology is in place, Chinese DRAM makers will first concentrate their production on PC and specialty DRAM products before advancing to mobile DRAM Though mobile DRAM has seen rapid growth in recent years, PC and specialty DRAM are less difficult to mass produce DRAMeXchange estimates it will take at least three to seven years for China’s IC industry to fully integrate hardware and software resources While the country’s DRAM makers will initially focus on satisfying internal demands, they certainly have their sights set on the global market 

Press Releases
TrendForce Revises 2015 Branded LCD TV Shipments to 223.4M Sets but Expects Rising Demands for 4K and Large-Size Products

2015/06/09

Consumer Electronics

WitsView, a division of TrendForce, has revised the global LCD TV shipments for 2015 downward from 225 million sets to 2234 million according to its latest research The estimated yearly shipment growth rate has also been adjusted from 4% to 33% Several factors contribute to the revisions Firstly, the depreciation of both the euro and currencies of emerging markets has widen the losses for branded TV vendors Secondly, demands in China and other major markets are reaching saturation Thirdly, there is a lack of global sporting events that would stimulate TV sales And lastly, the shipment strategies of vendors have changed from achieving high volume to selling premium quality, high-margin products This in turn drives the market demands for 4K models and TV sets sized 50 inches and above  The 4K segment is this year’s main battleground where the brand vendors will try outdo each other in specs As technologies relating to curved-screen and high-color saturation have yet to mature, vendors will stick with the 4K models since these products offer better margins The Chinese Labor Day sales saw 4K TVs standing out in the market, representing over 30% of the total sales during the holidays They are also likely to become the main products on sales in the United States during the peak seasons in the second half of 2015, including the Black Friday sales Based on the above considerations, WitsView has revised this year’s global market penetration of 4K TVs upward from 146% to 154%  Another significant development in the LCD TV market is the vendors’ switch to TV of larger sizes as part of their overall quality over quantity strategy As a result of the expansion of Gen 85 production and promotional campaigns from vendors, the demand of the 50-inch and above models relative to other products has risen, from 182% in 2014 to 198% this year Their shipments have also increased from 394 million last year to 442 million this year, resulting a growth of 123% This shows the large-size segment has significant demand growth potential within the LCD TV market The 32-inch products by contrast are losing market shares because their demand is depressed across the emerging markets and their overall margin is getting too low for vendors WitsView estimates the shares of the shipments of the 32-inch models relative to other TV product shipments will fall, from 325% last year to 304% this year Although the 32-inch is still considered the mainstream in market in the short term, the shipment decline of this size category will inevitably be the biggest relative other sizes 

Press Releases
TrendForce Compuforum 2015: Smartphone Upgrades Initiates Competition for Better Specs in Key Mobile Components

2015/06/05

Telecommunications / Display / Consumer Electronics / Semiconductors

Global research firm TrendForce will be hosting “Compuforum 2015” with Taipei Computer Association and TechNews at the 4th floor VIP Room of Taipei International Convention Center on June 5, 2015 as part of the Computex Taipei 2015 Top analysts assembled from three of TrendForce’s research divisions – DRAMeXchange, WitsView and Topology – will be presenting their latest research on the key components of mobile devices and communication technology The conference will also feature guest speakers from tech giants SanDisk, Qualcomm, Intel, Broadcom and ARM Together these experts will provide authoritative analyses and latest industry intelligence Compuforum 2015 will be a great opportunity for its participants to exchange information on market and technological developments for the second half of 2015 Below is the summarized content of the conference:  DRAMeXchange: Mobile device specs advance with mobile DRAM becoming memory industry’s profit engine  As a result of a recent seismic shift in demand, mobile DRAM has formally surpassed PC DRAM as the mainstream product of the industry DRAMeXchange’s analysis shows the representation of mobile DRAM in the total production continues to increase and is projected to reach a CAGR of 36% during the 2011-2020 period, overtaking the 24% CAGR of server DRAM and the negative growth rate of PC DRAM DRAMeXchange additionally expects a near 40% yearly increase in the bit growth demand of mobile DRAM for 2015 With PC DRAM prices continuing to decline, mobile DRAM manufacturing will achieve greater profitability than PC DRAM manufacturing in this year’s third quarter In sum, mobile DRAM is set to become primary product type that will ensure a steady margin for DRAM makers  DRAMeXchange’s Assistant Vice President Avril Wu sees plenty of room for mobile DRAM demand growth despite the gradual saturation of the smartphone market Though smartphone shipments will have a yearly growth of just 116% in 2015, the ongoing software and hardware upgrades in other products will fuel the demands for mobile DRAM These devices and components include digital cameras, display screen resolutions, AP chipsets, multicore processors, and operating systems The next-generation iPhone, for instance, has upgraded its memory to 2GB LPDDRR4 as it sets to become the biggest highlight in the smartphone market for the second half of this year Other smartphone vendors will soon follow Apple’s lead and equip their flagship models with 3GB or 4GB mobile DRAM products Though LPDDR4 is presently limited to high-end smartphones, DRAMeXchange anticipates its application will steadily become widespread in 2016, extending to mid-range smartphones By the early 2017, LPDDR4 will become the market mainstream and be carried in devices outside of the smartphone category  WitsView: Competition in the mobile display market heats up as it moves towards higher resolution  The development of the smartphone market has plateaued after many years of high growth, and the year-on-year shipment growth for 2015 is expected to slow down According to WitsView’s Senior Research Director Eric Chiou, the diminished shipment volume suggests that raising the product’s quality will be crucial to making further progress in the smartphone market WitsView’s latest research indicates smartphones with screens sized 5 inches and above will increase their share relative to other screen sizes this year, accounting for over half of the product mix for the first time at 501% The trend towards high resolution displays is also underway, and more than a quarter of all mobile devices will have Full HD or better specs for their displays this year, reaching to 256%  Recent surveys of panel makers indicate Japanese companies will remain dominant as the mobile display market heats up due to their advantages in client base and technology Their positions in the mid-range and high-end panel segments will be difficult to challenge China is disrupting the already oversupplied small-size panel market with large-scale investments in the LTPS technology At the same time, Korean panel makers are strengthening their AMOLED product lines as to tap into a less saturated market while leaving the fiercely contested LCD market As for Taiwanese manufacturers, which mainly produce a-Si panels, their survival under the combined offensive from Japanese, Korean and Chinese competitors will be the market’s focus in the near future  Topology: Smartwatches become the focus of the wearable industry and Apple will define the course of their competition  As market for wearable tech is entering its third year of development, its main products are still wrist-worn devices The market entry of the Apple Watch will spur the shipments of smartwatches to exceed smartband shipments Based on Topology’s analysis, approximately 26 million sets of smartwatches will be shipped in 2015, with 15 million of them being the Apple Watch Thus, the Apple Watch will dominate with 57% of the market share  As Apple establishes a commanding lead in the smartwatch market, its products will certainly be closely studied and imitated by competing brands According to Topology’s wearable device analyst Jason Tsai, however, wearable devices compete differently with smartphones Smartphones differentiation leads to spec upgrades and matchups For wearable devices like Apple Watch, their core values are about being a platform capable of providing a range of functions and services, rather than simply having the most advanced hardware The bar is therefore set very high for Apple’s wearable competitors when it comes to creating a rival for the Apple Watch Furthermore, the competition in the wearable market will move away from the traditional hardware-oriented contests to the more service-oriented challenges 

Press Releases
Specs Become Market Focus as Next-Gen iPhone Set for Mass Production in June, Says TrendForce

2015/05/21

Telecommunications / Semiconductors / LED / Display / Consumer Electronics

The beginning of 2015 was excellent for Apple as the sales of iPhone 6 and iPhone 5S remained strong The total shipment of iPhones in the first quarter was over 60 million units, exceeding the market expectations As the second quarter is drawing to a close, the smartphone market shifts its attention to the next-generation iPhone (iPhone 6S or iPhone 7) Interests on the next iPhone's future sales results are growing as more information about its specs have been leaked to the public  According to the latest reporting by the global research firm TrendForce, both the 47-inch and 55-inch versions of the next iPhone will enter mass production in June They will be shipped in the third quarter, with the quarterly shipments projected to reach 24 million units By the fourth quarter, the next iPhone will be released in greater quantities with the estimated quarterly shipments surpassing 50 million The new model will help drive the 2015 shipments of all iPhones to go over 230 million, resulting in a yearly shipment growth of 20% The next iPhone is also estimated to represent more than 35% of this year’s total iPhone shipments  Major upgrades made to the new model's mobile DRAM and unit memory capacity  The biggest highlight for the next iPhone is the mobile DRAM upgrade from LPDDR3 to LPDDR4 The memory capacity per iPhone has also doubled from 1GB to 2GB With the new model scheduled for shipments in the third quarter, Apple’s main mobile DRAM suppliers Samsung and SK Hynix are going to set aside capacities for LPDDR4 production Using the capacities of 25nm or 20nm processes as references, the next iPhone with its 2GB of memory will effectively consume an additional 20K wafers per month compared with its 1GB predecessors With the total worldwide DRAM capacity at 1,080K wafers per month, around an additional 2% of it will be given to the production of the next iPhone’s memory  The next iPhone is very likely to have its minimum storage capacity raised from 16GB to 32GB, so their storage options would range from 32GB and 64GB to 128GB It is expected that TLC-based NAND flash will be carried on the 64GB and 128GB versions, which TrendForce estimates will also make up over 50% of this year’s next-generation iPhone shipments TrendForce further finds that owing to the drive from the next-generation models, approximately 18% of all NAND flash consumption this year will come from iPhones  Force Touch will be Apple’s key technology in touch sensor development  There is a strong possibility that the next iPhone will feature Apple’s “Force Touch” technology, which is a pressure-sensitive touch module that produce different commands and feedbacks depending on how long or hard the user presses the touchscreen The Force Touch module will be a notable improvement in the smartphone touch displays as it adds many potential functions The design of this new touch technology is likely to have a flexible printed circuit (FPC) that is located under the LCD module to control the sensor The US-based Analog Devices Inc is the expected candidate supplier of the next iPhone’s Force Touch sensor ICs, which will come with a firmware designed by Apple  Force Touch requires the support from apps in order to maximize its functional relevance Even if this technology is available on the next iPhone, it might not offer noticeable improvements in user experience due to the lack of supporting apps Nonetheless, Force Touch represents an important milestone in Apple’s innovation in the touch sensor technology, and whether it will appear on the iPhone and iPad series is going to be a topic closely followed by the market watchers  LED backlight gets smaller for a lighter and thinner body  Apple stays with its Japanese suppliers for the LED chips used in the next iPhone's backlight Due to the popular demand for lighter and thinner phones, the next iPhone is also going to see a size reduction for its backlight LED package, from 06t (30 x 085 x 06mm) to 04t (30 x 085 x 04mm) However, a smaller size package means that each LED package will have its brightness reduced by about 10% Therefore, an additional two to three LEDs will be needed in the module to compensate for the loss in brightness As for the next iPhone’s camera flash LED, its design will still be based on the dual-flash LED technology, which uses two LEDs of different color temperatures to create a more natural light when shooting     TrendForce, Taipei Computer Association, and TechNews proudly present Compuforum 2015 on June 5, during the week of Computex Taipei 2015, at the 4th floor VIP room of the Taipei International Convention Center This year seminar, titled “The Future of Mobile Devices: Key Components and Communication Technology”, will feature the latest industry research by top analysts from TrendForce’s research divisions – DRAMeXchange, WitsView, and Topology Honored guest speakers from global tech giants SanDisk, Qualcomm, ARM, Intel, and Broadcom will also be there to share their thoughts with the attendees on the latest trends and future development in mobile solutions Topics that will be discussed at the forum include chips, memory, display panel, wireless communication, and wearable devices 

Press Releases
Overall Notebook Shipments Declined by 17.5% in Q1 with Lenovo Taking Top Vendor Title, TrendForce Reports

2015/05/21

Consumer Electronics

TrendForce’s latest research reveals the notebook shipments for the first quarter of 2015 posted a significant quarterly decline of 175%, with 3843 million units shipped One usual factor to the drop in shipments was seasonality The other factor was the earlier-than-usual stock up efforts at the end of 2014, which led to a sharp rise in panel stocks and channel inventories In the brand shipment rankings for the first quarter, Lenovo became the leader for the first time with 784 million units shipped (excluding products under its acquired brand) HP was pushed down to second place with 742 million units shipped  TrendForce points out that with the launching of new notebooks in the second quarter, every brand will work hard to raise their sales figures for the first half of 2015 as to compensate for the disappointing first quarter results The second quarter notebook shipments are therefore expected to grow by 7~8% quarterly Nonetheless, some of the market demand have already been taken away by the low-price notebooks that dominated last year’s markets Furthermore, the market drive caused by Microsoft’s Windows 10 and Intel’s new CPU may only have a moderate effects on notebook sales On the whole, TrendForce expects brand vendors will have a challenging year as the replacement demand will be quite weak  Vendors suffered severe negative shipment growths in the first quarter with Apple and HP having the biggest declines at around 30%  Lenovo took the crown of top notebook brand with a much smaller shipment decline of 77% relative to its competitors The main reason for Lenovo’s success was that its primary markets, China and North America, were not caught up in currency depreciation Other brands were not as fortunate and their profits were eroded by weak exchange rates  The longtime number one vendor HP shipped 104 million units in the fourth quarter of 2014, which represented its biggest quarterly shipment since 2010 Even with this impressive record, HP was unable to escape from the seasonality effects during the first quarter of 2015 Compared with the previous quarter, HP suffered a steep 285% decline in notebook shipments in the first quarter despite making efforts to turn sales around in March HP retreated to second place in ranking while Dell, which was also experiencing weak front-end demands, stayed at third with a 138% quarterly decline in shipments  Taiwan-based Acer and Asus have been focusing on Europe and emerging markets, thus their sales were severely affected by the currency depreciations of those markets Set against the previous quarter, Acer and Asus’s notebook shipments for the first quarter of 2015 fell by 128% and 24% respectively  The first quarter has usually been the off-peak season for Apple’s notebook shipments Moreover, the new 12-inch MacBook and upgraded MacBook Air and Pro series did not make substantial contributions to Apple’s notebook sales until the second quarter Consequently, Apple saw its first quarter shipment plummeted by 305% compared with the prior quarter  As for Korean-based Samsung and Japan’s Toshiba, their fixed small monthly shipments indicate that they are gradually withdrawing from the notebook market due to the immense competitive pressures   

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