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Global Fab Equipment Spending Expected to Reach Record $109B in 2022, SEMI Reports

Global fab equipment spending for front-end facilities is expected to increase 20% year-over-year (YOY) to an all-time high of US$109 billion in 2022, marking a third consecutive year of growth following a 42% surge in 2021, SEMI announced today in its latest quarterly World Fab Forecast report. Fab equipment investment in 2023 is expected to remain strong.

"The global semiconductor equipment industry remains on track to cross the $100 billion threshold for the first time as shown in our latest update of the World Fab Forecast,"said Ajit Manocha, president and CEO of SEMI. "This historic milestone puts an exclamation point on the current run of unprecedented industry growth."

Intel Names Christoph Schell Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer

Intel Corporation today announced that Christoph Schell has been appointed executive vice president and chief commercial officer to lead the Sales, Marketing and Communications Group (SMG), starting March 14. Schell will succeed Michelle Johnston Holthaus, who will take on a new role as general manager of Intel's Client Computing Group (CCG).

"Christoph has an exceptional track record of driving innovative and disruptive go-to-market strategies around the globe. He brings expertise in understanding business segments, verticals and the solutions and services customers want," said Pat Gelsinger, Intel CEO. "We are harnessing our core strengths as an advantage to grow in our traditional markets and accelerate our entry into new ones. I'm confident Christoph is the right leader to take on this critical role and guide the talented SMG organization to achieve our growing ambitions."

Schell joins Intel from HP Inc., where he was most recently chief commercial officer. With his go-to-market team, he led customer and partner success, category management and customer support globally. During his 25 years with the company, Schell held various senior management roles across the globe, including president of 3D Printing & Digital Manufacturing. Prior to rejoining HP in 2014, Schell served as executive vice president of Growth Markets for Philips, where he led the lighting business across Asia Pacific, Japan, Africa, Russia, India, Central Asia and the Middle East. He started his career in his family's distribution and industrial solutions company and worked in brand management at Procter & Gamble.

Intel CEO Trip to Asia Detailed

We already know that Intel will be visiting TSMC in Taiwan and that the team from Intel would also be heading over to Malaysia for what was as yet an unknown reason, but new reports are coming in that Intel is planning to announce an investment of US$7 billion which will be used to build a new chip packaging plant in Penang. The announcement is said to take place in Kuala Lumpur, together with Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry Azmin Ali and Malaysian Investment Development Authority chief executive Arham Abdul Rahman.

Intel already has multiple locations on the island of Penang, alongside many other technology companies, such as ASE, Bosch, Osram and Western Digital to name a few. While the trip to Malaysia seems to at least involve a meet and greet, as well as a press conference with representatives for the Malaysian government, it seems like Gelsinger's time in Taiwan will not involved any meetings with government members, as Taiwan's Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua has said that Gelsinger is in Taiwan strictly for business and won't be meeting with her. However, Taiwan will at least not force Gelsinger to waste two weeks in quarantine, as he'll get the special treatment that some foreign enterprises are given for short business trips to Taiwan.

Intel CEO Planning Trip to Taiwan and Malaysia, Meeting with TSMC

Pat Gelsinger is planning a trip to Asia next week, where he'll stop over in Taiwan and Malaysia according to Bloomberg. There he's apparently planning to hold talks that show that manufacturing in Asia is a key part to his efforts of turning Intel's fortunes around. It's said that he'll also be meeting with TSMC.

This will be Gelsinger's first trip to Asia as Intel's CEO, largely due to the pandemic, although outside of meeting with TSMC, his schedule wasn't further mentioned, but it's likely he will be meeting with key partners and suppliers. Intel does some of its chip packaging in Malaysia, on the island of Penang to be more specific, where plants have been temporarily closed due to the pandemic, which in turn has hurt supply for the tech companies located there.

DRAM Prices Projected to Enter Period of Downswing in 2022 as Demand Lags Behind Supply, Says TrendForce

DRAM contract prices are likely to exit a bullish period that lasted three quarters and be on the downswing in 4Q21 at a QoQ decline of 3-8%, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. This decline can be attributed to not only the declining procurement activities of DRAM buyers going forward, but also the drop in DRAM spot prices ahead of contract prices. While the buying and selling sides attempt to gain the advantage in future transactions, the DRAM market's movement in 2022 will primarily be determined by suppliers' capacity expansion strategies in conjunction with potential growths in demand. The capacity expansion plans of the three largest DRAM suppliers (Samsung, SK hynix, and Micron) for 2022 are expected to remain conservative, resulting in a 17.9% growth in total DRAM bit supply next year. On the demand side, inventory levels at the moment are relatively high. Hence, DRAM bit demand is expected to grow by 16.3% next year and lag behind bit supply growth. TrendForce therefore forecasts a shift in the DRAM market next year from shortage to surplus.

Worldwide Enterprise WLAN Market Continued Strong Growth in Second Quarter 2021, According to IDC

Growth rates remained strong in the enterprise segment of the wireless local area networking (WLAN) market in the second quarter of 2021 (2Q21) as the market increased 22.4% on a year-over-year basis to $1.7 billion, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wireless LAN Tracker. In the consumer segment of the WLAN market, revenues declined 5.7% in the quarter to $2.3 billion, giving the combined enterprise and consumer WLAN markets year-over-year growth of 4.6% in 2Q21.

The growth in the enterprise-class segment of the market builds on a strong first quarter of 2021 when revenues increased 24.6% year over year. For the first half of 2021, the market increased 23.5% compared to first two quarters of 2020. Compared to the second quarter of 2019, 2Q21 revenues increased 10.8%, indicating that demand in the enterprise WLAN is strong.

Revenue of Top 10 OSAT Companies for 2Q21 Reaches US$7.88 Billion Due to Strong Demand and Increased Package/Test Prices, Says TrendForce

Despite the intensifying COVID-19 pandemic that swept Taiwan in 2Q21, the domestic OSAT (outsourced semiconductor assembly and test) industry remained largely intact, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. Global sales of large-sized TVs were brisk thanks to major sporting events such as the Tokyo Olympics and UEFA Euro 2020. Likewise, the proliferation of WFH and distance learning applications propelled the demand for IT products, while the automotive semiconductor and data center markets also showed upward trajectories. Taking into account the above factors, OSAT companies raised their quotes in response, resulting in a 26.4% YoY increase in the top 10 OSAT companies' revenue to US$7.88 billion for 2Q21.

TrendForce indicates that, in light of the ongoing global chip shortage and the growing production capacities of foundries/IDMs in the upstream semiconductor supply chain, OSAT companies gradually increased their CAPEX and expanded their fabs and equipment in order to meet the persistently growing client demand. However, the OSAT industry still faces an uncertain future in 2H21 due to the Delta variant's global surge and the health crisis taking place in Southeast Asia, home to a significant number of OSAT facilities.

NAND Flash Revenue for 2Q21 Rises by 10.8% QoQ Due to Strong Notebook Demand and Procurements for Data Centers, Says TrendForce

NAND Flash suppliers' Clients in the data center segment were gradually stepping up enterprise SSD procurement after finishing inventory adjustments, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. Moreover, the adoption rate of 4/8 TB products in the enterprise SSD market increased substantially on account of the releases and adoption of the new server processor platforms from Intel and AMD. Although the recent wave of COVID-19 outbreaks that struck Southeast Asia weakened smartphone sales in 2Q21, the quarterly total NAND Flash bit shipments rose by nearly 9% QoQ, as PC OEMs still had plenty of component orders in 2Q21 due to the fairly robust notebook demand during the period. On the other hand, the shortage of controller ICs became more severe during the period, and the winter storm that battered Texas this February affected the operation of Samsung's foundry fab Line S2 in Austin. As demand for NAND Flash products rose, the overall ASP also rose by nearly 7% QoQ, and the quarterly total NAND Flash revenue rose by 10.8% QoQ to US$16.4 billion in 2Q21.

NAND Flash Contract Prices Likely to Increase by 5-10% QoQ in 3Q21 as Quotes Continue to Rise, Says TrendForce

The recent wave of COVID-19 outbreaks in India has weakened sales of retail storage products such as memory cards and USB drives, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. However, demand remains fairly strong in the main application segments due to the arrival of the traditional peak season and the growth in the procurement related to data centers. Hence, the sufficiency ratio of the entire market has declined further. NAND Flash suppliers have kept their inventories at a healthy level thanks to clients' stock-up activities during the past several quarters. Moreover, the ongoing shortage of NAND Flash controller ICs continues to affect the production of finished storage products. Taking account of these demand-side and supply-side factors, TrendForce forecasts that contract prices of NAND Flash products will rise marginally for 3Q21, with QoQ increases in the range of 5-10%.

Intel Books Two 3 nm Processor Orders at TSMC Manufacturing Facilities

Intel's struggles with semiconductor manufacturing have been known for a very long time. Starting from its 10 nm design IP to the latest 7 nm delays, we have seen the company struggle to deliver its semiconductor nodes on time. On the other hand, Intel's competing companies are using 3rd party foundries to manufacture their designs and not worry about the yields of semiconductor nodes. Most of the time, that 3rd party company is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). Today, thanks to some reporting from Nikkei Asia, we are learning that Intel is tapping TSMC's capacities to manufacture some of the company's future processors.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Nikkei notes that: "Intel, America's biggest chipmaker, is working with TSMC on at least two 3-nm projects to design central processing units for notebooks and data center servers in an attempt to regain market share it has lost to Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia over the past few years. Mass production of these chips is expected to begin by the end of 2022 at the earliest." This means that we could expect to see some of the TSMC manufactured Intel processors by the year 2023/2024.

Global Semiconductor Sales Up 14.7% Year-to-Year in February, Says SIA

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) today announced global semiconductor industry sales were $39.6 billion for the month of February 2021, an increase of 14.7% over the February 2020 total of $34.5 billion, but 1.0% less than the January 2021 total of $40.0 billion. Monthly sales are compiled by the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization and represent a three-month moving average. SIA represents 98% of the U.S. semiconductor industry by revenue and nearly two-thirds of non-U.S. chip firms.

"Global semiconductor sales during the first two months of the year have outpaced sales from early in 2020, when the pandemic began to spread in parts of the world," said John Neuffer, SIA president and CEO. "Sales into the China market saw the largest year-to-year growth, largely because sales there were down substantially early last year."

Apple is Reportedly Working with TSMC on a Special Micro OLED Panel Technology

OLED panes are expertise areas of display makers such as LG and Samsung, however, when it comes to Apple, they have to rely on external manufacturers to make a display. For years Apple has been contracting LG and Samsung to make the display for iPhones and Macs, but it looks like Apple is now collaborating with another firm to develop micro OLED technology. According to sources over at Nikkei Asia, Apple is collaborating with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to develop "ultra-advanced display technology at a secretive facility in Taiwan". Despite TSMC not being the traditional choice for panel manufacturing, there is a list of reasons why Apple chose its years-long partner to work with.

TSMC is known for manufacturing silicon chips, however, Apple envisions that the Taiwan maker will manufacture ultra-advanced micro OLED technology using wafers. Building the displays using wafers will result in much lower power consumption and far lower size. Why is this approach necessary you might wonder? Well, Apple is developing a new generation of AR glasses and there needs to be a solid display technology for them to exist. It is reported that the new micro OLED displays are under development and are about one inch in diameter. The source also adds that this is just one out of two projects being worked on inside of Apple's secretive labs located in the Taiwanese city of Taoyuan. What is the other project remains a mystery, however, with more time we could get information on that as well.

Worldwide Server Market Revenue Grew 2.2% Year Over Year in the Third Quarter of 2020, According to IDC

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, vendor revenue in the worldwide server market grew 2.2% year over year to $22.6 billion during the third quarter of 2020 (3Q20). Worldwide server shipments declined 0.2% year over year to nearly 3.1 million units in 3Q20. Volume server revenue was up 5.8% to $19.0 billion, while midrange server revenue declined 13.9% to $2.6 billion, and high-end servers declined by 12.6% to $937 million.

"Global demand for enterprise servers was a bit muted during the third quarter of 2020 although we did see areas of strong demand," said Paul Maguranis, senior research analyst, Infrastructure Platforms and Technologies at IDC. "From a regional perspective, server revenue within China grew 14.2% year over year. And worldwide revenues for servers running AMD CPUs were up 112.4% year over year while ARM-based servers grew revenues 430.5% year over year, albeit on a very small base of revenue."

ASUS Showcases GeForce RTX 3090 ROG STRIX GUNDAM Edition

ASUS has held its Republic of Gamers (ROG) day, and at the event, there was a special graphics card. Spotted there was a GeForce RTX 3090 GPU in the form of ASUS ROG STRIX GUNDAM edition. With an appeal based on a famous anime series GUNDAM, ASUS has decided to launch a new product line made up of a motherboard and a graphics card. The new ASUS GeForce RTX 3090 ROG STRIX GUNDAM Edition features the same specifications as the regular RTX 3090 edition, just with an increased clock speed of 1890 MHz, three 8-pin power connectors, and a maximum power limit of 480 Watts.

The card features a white triple slot body with three fans cooling the heatsink. When it comes to the availability of this card, it is said to be a limited edition only sold to the Asian market. The price tag will carry a premium over the regular ROG STRIX model, with a cost of 16,999 Yuans (~2530 USD). The standard ROG STRIX model comes at a 1799 USD price tag, meaning that you will pay 730 USD more for this limited edition product. The availability is supposedly going to be even worse than with current cards, meaning that only a few people will get their hands on these if the current situation is any reference.
More pictures follow.

COVID-19 Drives Rise in Global Fab Equipment Spending, SEMI Reports

Soaring pandemic-inspired demand for chips that power everything from communications and IT infrastructures to personal computing, gaming and healthcare electronics will drive an 8% increase in global fab equipment spending in 2020 and a 13% increase in 2021, SEMI announced today in its World Fab Forecast report. Rising demand for semiconductors for datacenter infrastructures and server storage along with the buildup of safety stock as U.S.-China trade tensions intensify are also contributing to this year's growth.

The bullish trend for overall fab equipment investments comes as the semiconductor industry recovers from a 9% decline in fab spending in 2019 and navigates a roller-coaster 2020 with actual and projected spending drops in the first and third quarters mixed with second- and fourth-quarter increases. See figure below:

US Aims to Bring Chip Manufacturing Industry Back to Its Soil

The US is one of the leading countries when it comes to chip design technologies and know-how; however, when it comes to actual manufacturing those designs, it's fallen from grace in recent years. Once the leader in both design and manufacturing, nowadays the US can only claim some 12% of the world's semiconductor production. The rest of it is mainly produced in Asia, where TSMC stands as the industry juggernaut, with other companies stretching across Taiwan, Japan, and most recently (and surging) China - the country has more than doubled its 300 mm manufacturing sites since 2017. This places some strain on the US' dependence from foreign shipments; and the country is looking to bridge that gap in its perceived national interests by investing heavily in silicon manufacturing to be brought back to the country. Recent slippages from Intel when it comes to keeping its manufacturing lead have apparently also instilled preoccupation amongst US policy makers.
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Jun 28th, 2022 12:56 EDT change timezone

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