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TrendForce: Enterprise SSD Contract Prices Likely to Increase by 15% QoQ for 3Q21 Due to High SSD Demand and Short Supply of Upstream IC Components

The ramp-up of the Intel Ice Lake and AMD Milan processors is expected to not only propel growths in server shipment for two consecutive quarters from 2Q21 to 3Q21, but also drive up the share of high-density products in North American hyperscalers' enterprise SSD purchases, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. In China, procurement activities by domestic hyperscalers Alibaba and ByteDance are expected to increase on a quarterly basis as well. With the labor force gradually returning to physical offices, enterprises are now placing an increasing number of IT equipment orders, including servers, compared to 1H21. Hence, global enterprise SSD procurement capacity is expected to increase by 7% QoQ in 3Q21. Ongoing shortages in foundry capacities, however, have led to the supply of SSD components lagging behind demand. At the same time, enterprise SSD suppliers are aggressively raising the share of large-density products in their offerings in an attempt to optimize their product lines' profitability. Taking account of these factors, TrendForce expects contract prices of enterprise SSDs to undergo a staggering 15% QoQ increase for 3Q21.

AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT Pictured, Tested

Pictures of a made-by-AMD (MBA) Radeon RX 6600 XT OEM graphics card hit the web. This particular card has all the signs of an MBA card, including the AMD logo near the PCIe fingers, and barcode stickers of the font used by PC Partner, the OEM that makes MBA cards. This isn't necessarily the reference card whose renders are floating on the web, but one that AMD supplies to pre-built desktop manufacturers.

The compact card appears roughly 18-20 cm in length, is dual-slot, and uses a single 8-pin PCIe power input. Its cooling solution uses an aluminium mono-block heatsink that's ventilated by a pair of 80 mm fans. The person with access to this sample put out performance numbers from the internal benchmark of a game popular in China, called Ludashi, as well as how it compares to other graphics cards in this test. The results are interesting. The RX 6600 XT apparently beats or matches the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, which means it should have a comfortable lead over the RTX 3060, at least in this test. AMD is expected to launch the RX 6600 XT in the retail channel, on August 11, 2021.

Cryptocurrency Miners Selling RTX 3060 Cards For 270 USD in China

The Chinese government imposed harsh restrictions on cryptocurrency transactions last month which forced many mining farms to relocate or shut down and sell their equipment. This mass exodus has helped drive graphics card pricing downwards and according to recent reports, the price for RTX 3060 cards has hit a low of 270 USD (1760 yuan). These prices appear to be limited and only available for large purchases in China however as more farms are forced to sell we may see some cards listed for individual or international sale. Gaming laptops with RTX 3060 graphics cards that were purchased for mining farms are also entering the market for ~1000 USD. While the RTX 3060 cards currently represent the best value mining operations are selling a wide variety of NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards. These prices have been falling steadily over the last week so we wouldn't be surprised if they continue to drop.

TSMC Under U.S. Pressure Over China Fab Expansion

TSMC is under pressure from the U.S. to reconsider its plans to expand its facilities in mainland China, sources close to the matter told DigiTimes. TSMC currently operates a fab near Shanghai, and one in Nanjing, which it had originally planned to expand, meeting resistance from the U.S. It is not known if this is government (diplomatic) pressure or by U.S. based customers of TSMC., but is likely a combination of the two. The same forces were possibly behind getting TSMC to invest north of $3.5 billion toward a facility in Arizona with six more "Gigafabs" being planned in the southwestern state. U.S. hand-holding in TSMC's policymaking could be part of a strategy to deny cutting-edge silicon fabrication technology to China (PRC), and to help TSMC expand its manufacturing in safer regions as the security situation across the Taiwan strait continues to deteriorate. TSMC, specifically western tech companies' dependence on it, makes it a soft target on the island, and a bargaining chip to deter western military intervention.

China Has Produced Over 140 Billion Chips So Far This Year

Chinese semiconductor production is hitting new all-time highs. According to the report coming from South China Morning Post, citing the source over at the National Bureau of Statistics, Chinese semiconductor production has grown 37.6% in May of 2021, compared to the same month in 2020. The total chip output resulted in 29.9 billion chips in May, which is quite an impressive growth. In the first five months of this year, Chinese chipmakers have produced an amazing 139.9 billion chips, meaning that at the time of writing that number is much greater. If we compare the same five-month period of 2020, we can see that the chip output has grown 48.3% this year.

While the number of chips produced is not an ideal metric to monitor the growth of semiconductors in China, it is an indication of just how much the Chinese semiconductor industry is growing. The 48.3% growth in chip output is not small by any means, and we can't wait to see the report for the whole year.

COLORFUL Launches the First GPU History Museum

Colorful Technology Company Limited, a professional manufacturer of graphics cards, motherboards, all-in-one gaming and multimedia solutions, and high-performance storage, announces the launch of the GPU History Museum in partnership with NVIDIA. COLORFUL has recently relocated to Shenzhen New Generation Industrial Park. With that, COLORFUL is proud to announce the launch of the first GPU History Museum in China. The museum will showcase the beginnings of the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), to the development and evolution of graphics cards up to the present generation.

Global TV Shipment for 1Q21 Undergoes 11.5% Growth YoY, Says TrendForce

While demand for TVs underwent a slowdown in China and Europe due to the onset of the cyclical downturn, quarterly TV sales in North America reached a historical high in 1Q21 thanks to the proliferation of the stay-at-home economy and government-issued economic stimulus plans, such as the March 2021 handout of US$1,400 stimulus checks to most US citizens, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. Bullish TV sales in North America propelled global TV shipment for 1Q21 to 49.96 million units, a 24.2% QoQ decrease but an 11.5% YoY increase.

TrendForce further indicates that Hisense has been particularly aggressive in expanding in the overseas markets via consumer-friendly prices. Not only did Hisense successfully enter the top five list of the largest TV brands in North America in 1Q21, but the company's market share also surpassed 10% and reached 11.1%, with a 4.19 million unit quarterly TV shipment, which represents an 8.8% increase YoY.

LED Market Revenue for 2021 Projected to Reach US$16.53 Billion Mainly Due to Automotive/Mini LED Applications, Says TrendForce

Owing to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, not only did LED revenue experience a downward trajectory, but this decline also reached a magnitude rarely seen in recent years, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. However, as vaccinations begin taking place in 1H21, the LED market's long-stifled demand is expected to rebound from rock bottom. Hence, global LED market revenue will likely undergo a corresponding recovery this year as well, with a forecasted US$16.53 billion, an 8.1% increase YoY, in 2021. Most of this increase can be attributed to four major categories, including automotive LED, Mini/Micro LED, video wall LED, and UV/IR LED.

GIGABYTE Gives Public Apology for "Made in China" Mocking After Company Shares Plummet by $550 Million

On Monday, GIGABYTE, a Taiwanese PC manufacturer, has published a blog post that made fun of other component manufacturers for having their products made in China, the "low-cost, low-quality way". According to Bloomberg, who was the first to spot the blog post, which is now removed. According to the report, such a statement had a massive toll on the shares of the Taiwanese company. E-commerce operators in China, like JD.com Inc. and Suning.com Co., have removed GIGABYTE products from their offerings and searching GIGABYTE or "Jijia" (Chinese company name) returned zero results from these websites. This has single-handedly caused the shares of the company to plummet by 10%, wiping away around $550 million worth of market cap.

The original blog post has since been removed, and GIGABYTE has issued a public apology, which you can see here. The translation of the text says that "A few days ago, part of the text content published on our official website is seriously inconsistent with the fact. It is caused by poor internal management of the company. We sincerely apologize for the discomfort caused to you." The company has also noted that it is very proud of "Made in China" products. On a more personal note, it is interesting to see such a strict market response coming from a blog post, and even more interesting to witness this exclusion from the Chinese e-commerce companies.

Chia Farming Already Causing SSDs to Fail at Scale, Storage Device Shortages on the Horizon

Chia, the new crypto-currency that relies on storage as proof-of-work to obtain, rather than processing power, is already causing widespread failures of storage devices that have a finite write endurance, according a report by Chinese tech publication MyDrivers. We've detailed how Chia farming works in an older article. Farming it (i.e. participating in the network that keeps the crypto-currency running, in exchange for the currency itself), takes a toll on your storage device. NAND flash-based devices, such as SSDs and USB flash drives, can be re-written a finite number of times, described by manufacturers as "write endurance" and expressed as TBW (terabytes written), or DWPD (drive writes per day, a unit in which drive size is accounted for).

MyDrivers notes that Chia farmers in China are noticing that typical 256 GB SSDs barely last through 40 drive-write days, 80 days for 512 GB, and about 160 days for 1 TB. Endurance varies among the various SSD brands, and NAND flash type used. Since disk space, and not drive performance is paramount in farming Chia, and magnetic storage devices such as HDDs offer more re-writing, stocks of high-capacity HDDs, including those typically headed to the NVR and security surveilance markets, are being soaked up by Chia farmers.

2020 Global Semiconductor Equipment Sales Surge 19% to Industry Record $71.2 Billion, SEMI Reports

Worldwide sales of semiconductor manufacturing equipment surged 19% from $59.8 billion in 2019 to a new all-time high of $71.2 billion in 2020, SEMI, the industry association representing the global electronics product design and manufacturing supply chain, reported today. The data is now available in the Worldwide Semiconductor Equipment Market Statistics (WWSEMS) Report.

For the first time, China claimed the largest market for new semiconductor equipment with sales growth of 39% to $18.72 billion. Sales in Taiwan, the second-largest equipment market, remained flat in 2020 with sales of $17.15 billion after showing strong growth in 2019. Korea registered 61% growth to $16.08 billion to maintain the third position. Annual spending also increased 21% in Japan and 16% in Europe as both regions are recovering from the contraction in 2019. Receipts in North America decreased 20% in 2020 following three years of consecutive growth.

Global Server Shipment for 2021 Projected to Grow by More than 5% YoY, Says TrendForce

Enterprise demand for cloud services has been rising steady in the past two years owing to the rapidly changing global markets and uncertainties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. TrendForce's investigations find that most enterprises have been prioritizing cloud service adoption across applications ranging from AI to other emerging technologies as cloud services have relatively flexible costs. Case in point, demand from clients in the hyperscale data center segment constituted more than 40% of total demand for servers in 4Q20, while this figure may potentially approach 45% for 2021. For 2021, TrendForce expects global server shipment to increase by more than 5% YoY and ODM Direct server shipment to increase by more than 15% YoY.

Logitech and Baidu Brain Partner to Transform the Way We Work Using AI and Voice

Today Logitech announced a long-term partnership with Baidu Brain, beginning with the launch of its intuitive new Logitech Voice M380 Wireless Mouse with Speech Input in China. Designed especially for people who create large amounts of content, this innovative product lets you dictate with your voice, creating content two or three times faster than typing. The Logitech Voice M380 Wireless Mouse is powered exclusively by intelligent Baidu Speech technology* from Baidu Brain and features the comfort, performance and quality that users expect in a Logitech mouse.

"We saw an opportunity to leverage the power of Baidu AI to bring fast, accurate speech recognition to our customers and the result is pure magic—a mouse that allows you to instantly start dictating with your voice at the click of a button," said Delphine Donne-Crock, general manager of the creativity and productivity business group at Logitech. "We are thrilled to tap into Baidu's AI superpower for the launch of Logitech Voice M380, and we look forward to collaborating on future products and solutions that unleash everyone's productivity and creativity in the digital world."

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."

Tianshu Zhixin Big Island GPU is a 37 TeraFLOP FP32 Computing Monster

Tianshu Zhixin, a Chinese startup company dedicated to designing advanced processors for accelerating various kinds of tasks, has officially entered the production of its latest GPGPU design. Called "Big Island" GPU, it is the company's entry into the GPU market, currently dominated by AMD, NVIDIA, and soon Intel. So what is so special about Tianshu Zhixin's Big Island GPU, making it so important? Firstly, it represents China's attempt of independence from the outside processor suppliers, ensuring maximum security at all times. Secondly, it is an interesting feat to enter a market that is controlled by big players and attempt to grab a piece of that cake. To be successful, the GPU needs to represent a great design.

And great it is, at least on paper. The specifications list that Big Island is currently being manufactured on TSMC's 7 nm node using CoWoS packaging technology, enabling the die to feature over 24 billion transistors. When it comes to performance, the company claims that the GPU is capable of crunching 37 TeraFLOPs of single-precision FP32 data. At FP16/BF16 half-precision, the chip is capable of outputting 147 TeraFLOPs. When it comes to integer performance, it can achieve 317, 147, and 295 TOPS in INT32, INT16, and IN8 respectively. There is no data on double-precision floating-point numbers, so the chip is optimized for single-precision workloads. There is also 32 GB of HBM2 memory present, and it has 1.2 TB of bandwidth. If we compare the chip to the competing offers like NVIDIA A100 or AMD MI100, the new Big Island GPU outperforms both at single-precision FP32 compute tasks, for which it is designed.
Tianshu Zhixin Big Island Tianshu Zhixin Big Island Tianshu Zhixin Big Island Tianshu Zhixin Big Island
Pictures of possible solutions follow.

Revenue of Top 10 IC Design (Fabless) Companies for 2020 Undergoes 26.4% Increase YoY, Says TrendForce

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 1H20 seemed at first poised to devastate the IC design industry. However, as WFH and distance education became the norm, TrendForce finds that the demand for notebook computers and networking products also spiked in response, in turn driving manufacturers to massively ramp up their procurement activities for components. Fabless IC design companies that supply such components therefore benefitted greatly from manufacturers' procurement demand, and the IC design industry underwent tremendous growth in 2020. In particular, the top three IC design companies (Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Nvidia) all posted YoY increases in their revenues, with Nvidia registering the most impressive growth, at a staggering 52.2% increase YoY, the highest among the top 10 companies.

Strong Growth Expected for Third-Generation Semiconductors in 2021, Says TrendForce

The third-generation semiconductor industry was impaired by the US-China trade war and the COVID-19 pandemic successively from 2018 to 2020, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. During this period, the semiconductor industry on the whole saw limited upward momentum, in turn leading to muted growth for the 3rd gen semiconductor segment as well. However, this segment is likely to enter a rapid upturn owing to high demand from automotive, industrial, and telecom applications. In particular, the GaN power device market will undergo the fastest growth, with a $61 million revenue, a 90.6% YoY increase, projected for 2021.

DRAM Revenue for 4Q20 Undergoes Modest 1.1% Increase QoQ in Light of Continued Rising Shipment and Falling Prices, Says TrendForce

Global DRAM revenue reached US$17.65 billion, a 1.1% increase YoY, in 4Q20, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. For the most part, this growth took place because Chinese smartphone brands, including Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi, expanded their procurement activities for components in order to seize the market shares made available after Huawei was added to the Entity List by the U.S. Department of Commerce. These procurement activities in turn provided upward momentum for DRAM suppliers' bit shipment. However, clients in the server segment were still in the middle of inventory adjustments during this period, thereby placing downward pressure on DRAM prices. As a result, revenues of most DRAM suppliers, except for Micron, remained somewhat unchanged in 4Q20 compared to 3Q20. Micron underwent a noticeable QoQ decline in 4Q20 (which Micron counts as its fiscal 1Q21), since Micron had fewer work weeks during this period compared to the previous quarter.

China Gobbling Up Supply of Used Semiconductor Manufacturing Machines

As the tensions between China and the US seem to have come to stay for the foreseeable future, Chinese companies are now opting to resort to older technologies so as to shore up their semiconductor manufacturing capability and reduce dependency from US-based imports. With several companies feeling the tight rope of US-imposed sanctions on their ability to purchase critical supplies (which brought even giant Huawei to its proverbial knees), it seems like a safe bet that China doesn't really care to be on the cutting edge for all but the most mission-critical applications. This happens at a time when the world is still reeling from general semiconductor shortages (some 30% below demand levels). This results in used semiconductor manufacturing equipment - which according to some sources, was "worthless several years ago" - to now be flying from storage warehouses and directly onto factory floors as fast humanly possible. And sometimes, that equipment is acquired for a cool $1 million.

The litography equipment being bought-up (apparently, 90% of the available supply is headed to China) mostly churns out 200 mm wafers, as opposed to today's most modern processes' 300 mm. This means that it's not only the wafer etching machines that are required, but also all the other peripheral equipment that is indispensable to the manufacturing process, such as etching and cleansing machines. This has prompted certain companies, such as Canon, to re-release litography equipment for 200 mm processes - nine years after their last offering was put to sale. This could actually be a way to supplement existing semiconductor requirements, as not everything has to be in the cutting edge of semiconductor capabilities - the old "satisficing" adage could indeed prove a good solution to the increasing demand for semiconductors.

Gartner Says Worldwide Smartphone Sales Declined 5% in Fourth Quarter of 2020

Global sales of smartphones to end users declined 5.4% in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Gartner, Inc. Smartphone sales declined 12.5% in full year 2020.

"The sales of more 5G smartphones and lower-to-mid-tier smartphones minimized the market decline in the fourth quarter of 2020," said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner. "Even as consumers remained cautious in their spending and held off on some discretionary purchases, 5G smartphones and pro-camera features encouraged some end users to purchase new smartphones or upgrade their current smartphones in the quarter."

NVIDIA Faces Challenges: Qualcomm, Google, and Microsoft Protest Arm Acquisition

In September of last year, NVIDIA has officially announced that the current industry rumor about its big acquisition was true. The company has announced that it is acquiring Arm Limited from the Softbank Group. Paying as much as $40 billion for the purchase, NVIDIA is gaining access to the complete company, along with its extensive portfolio of IP and knowledge. That means that NVIDIA is not essentially a holder of the Arm ISA, which is the most dominant ISA within mobile processors. Such a deal, however, is a bit hard to process without some troubles popping up along the way. As Arm held a neutral position as IP provider, NVIDIA is expected to remain as such, and the company even promised to stay true to that.

However, not everything is going as planned. Before completing the acquisition process, NVIDIA must first comply with regulators from all around the world, including the US, UK, EU, and China. If any objections raise within those regions, they are to be interrogated. Today, Google, Microsoft, and Qualcomm have objected that NVIDIA's Arm acquisition is hurting the market and are urging antitrust officials to intervene. Mentioned companies believe that NVIDIA's move is hurting the market and the company could limit its competitors from accessing the IP, thus breaking Arm's neutral position as an IP provider. NVIDIA has made statements that Arm will remain in such a position, however, the skepticism of the mentioned companies is slowing the merger. Now all that remains is to see how the conflicted companies solve their worries.

Following Huawei, Xiaomi Added to US Blacklist For Alleged Chinese Military Ties

Access to affordable electronics isn't looking much of a reality for US citizens, as the US government (presently in the outgoing days of Trump's administration) has now announced the addition of Chinese tech company Xiaomi to its military-connections blacklist. The move, enforced via a presidential executive order, now also demands U.S. investors to divest, or sell out, of affected holdings of any companies on the blacklist, by Nov. 11 this year. This addition to the US blacklist is done in accordance with the US National Defense Authorization Act of 1999, and doesn't place XIAOMI in the Entity list, of which Huawei is a part of, which would impede the Chinese tech giant from acquiring US technology and components for fabrication of its products.

The US Department of Defense (DOD) said in a statement that "The Department is determined to highlight and counter the People's Republic of China's (PRC) Military-Civil Fusion development strategy, which supports the modernization goals of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) by ensuring its access to advanced technologies and expertise acquired and developed by even those PRC companies, universities, and research programs that appear to be civilian entities". Xiaomi has been classified as one of nine "Communist Chinese military companies".

GPUs to See Price Increase Due to Import Tariffs, Other PC Components to Follow

Yesterday, we have reported that ASUS is officially increasing the prices of their graphics cards and motherboards, due to increased component and logistics costs. What the company meant by that was not exactly clear to everyone, as it looked like the company has adjusted to the current market prices exceeding the MSRP of components like graphics cards. The GPUs are today selling at much higher prices compared to the original MSRP and it is representing a real problem for consumers. Today, we get to see what is the underlying problem behind the announcement we saw yesterday and if we are going to see more of that in the close future.

According to the New York Times, the Chinese import tariff exemptions have expired with the arrival of a new year (2021) and we can expect the tariffs to start from 7.5%-25%, which will massively increase component costs. A Reddit user has noted that MSRP will increase about $80 for every major GPU manufacturer like ASUS, GIGABYTE, PNY, Zotac, etc. so we are expecting MSRP adjustment from other companies to follow just like ASUS did. The import tariff exemptions are also supposed to increase MSRPs of other PC components like motherboards, SSDs, PSUs, cases... everything without exemption. As a product of a trade war between China and the Trump administration, it remains a question will these tariffs get easier shortly, so consumers can afford their desired components.

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."

DRAM ASP to Recover from Decline in 1Q21, with Potential for Slight Growth, Says TrendForce

The DRAM market exhibits a healthier and more balanced supply/demand relationship compared with the NAND Flash market because of its oligopolistic structure, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. The percentage distribution of DRAM supply bits by application currently shows that PC DRAM accounts for 13%, server DRAM 34%, mobile DRAM 40%, graphics DRAM 5%, and consumer DRAM (or specialty DRAM) 8%. Looking ahead to 1Q21, the DRAM market by then will have gone through an inventory adjustment period of slightly more than two quarters. Memory buyers will also be more willing to stock up because they want to reduce the risk of future price hikes. Therefore, DRAM prices on the whole will be constrained from falling further. The overall ASP of DRAM products is now forecasted to stay generally flat or slightly up for 1Q21.
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