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IDC Forecasts Solid Growth for the Hard Disk Drive and Solid State Drive Markets to Meet Increasing Demand for Data Storage Capacity

International Data Corporation (IDC) recently published new forecasts for the worldwide hard disk drive (HDD) and solid state drive (SSD) markets. While both markets were affected the COVID-19 pandemic, the outlook looks good as demand for storage remains strong in multiple areas. Worldwide HDD industry petabyte shipments are expected to see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.5% over the 2020-2025 forecast period and average capacity per drive is forecast to increase at a five-year CAGR of 25.5%.

"While the client HDD market continues a long-term secular decline due to rising SSD attach rates, the COVID-19 pandemic has over the near term increased the demand for certain types of HDDs, particularly mobile HDDs as well as capacity-optimized HDDs," said Edward Burns, research director, Hard Disk Drive and Storage Technologies at IDC. "And the demand for storage capacity continues to grow at a steady pace as the world creates and stores more and more data."

Graphics DRAM Contract Prices Projected to Rise by 8-13% QoQ in 3Q21 Due to Tight Supply in Contract Market, Says TrendForce

TrendForce's latest investigations find considerable discrepancy between prices for graphics DRAM products in the contract market and in the spot market. Quotes for graphics DRAM products continue to rise in the contract market as the severe undersupply situation persists. Furthermore, the supply fulfillment rates for orders from some medium- and small-size clients have been hovering around 30%. This undersupply situation is expected to persist through 3Q21, during which graphics DRAM contract prices are expected to rise by 8-13% QoQ. Regarding the spot market, on the other hand, the value of ETH experienced continued uptrend from the start of 2021 until May, thereby driving up the demand for graphics cards, regardless of them belonging to the newer or older series. At the height of the graphics card boom, spot prices of graphics DRAM products were up to 200% higher than contract prices. Demand from miners for graphics cards are expected to be relatively muted before cryptocurrencies return to their previous bullish trends, and the gap between the spot and contract prices of graphics DRAM products will likely narrow in 3Q21 as a result.

Global NAND Flash Revenue for 1Q21 Rises by 5.1% QoQ Thanks to Better-Than-Expected Demand for Notebooks and Smartphones, Says TrendForce

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.

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.

DRAM Revenue for 1Q21 Undergoes 8.7% Increase QoQ Thanks to Increased Shipment as Well as Higher Prices, Says TrendForce

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.

Demand for PC, mobile, graphics, and special DRAM remains healthy in 2Q21. Furthermore, after two to three quarters of inventory reduction during which their DRAM demand was relatively sluggish, some server manufacturers have now kicked off a new round of procurement as they expect a persistent increase in DRAM prices. TrendForce therefore forecasts a significant QoQ increase in DRAM ASP in 2Q21. In conjunction with increased bit shipment, this price hike will likely drive total DRAM revenue for 2Q21 to increase by more than 20% QoQ.

GCP, AWS Projected to Become Main Drivers of Global Server Demand with 25-30% YoY Increase in Server Procurement, Says TrendForce

Thanks to their flexible pricing schemes and diverse service offerings, CSPs have been a direct, major driver of enterprise demand for cloud services, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. As such, the rise of CSPs have in turn brought about a gradual shift in the prevailing business model of server supply chains from sales of traditional branded servers (that is, server OEMs) to ODM Direct sales instead. Incidentally, the global public cloud market operates as an oligopoly dominated by North American companies including Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), which collectively possess an above-50% share in this market. More specifically, GCP and AWS are the most aggressive in their data center build-outs. Each of these two companies is expected to increase its server procurement by 25-30% YoY this year, followed closely by Azure.

DRAM Prices Projected to Rise by 18-23% QoQ in 2Q21 Owing to Peak Season Demand, Says TrendForce

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 2666 Mbps 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.

Foundry Revenue Projected to Reach Historical High of US$94.6 Billion in 2021 Thanks to High 5G/HPC/End-Device Demand, Says TrendForce

As the global economy enters the post-pandemic era, technologies including 5G, WiFi6/6E, and HPC (high-performance computing) have been advancing rapidly, in turn bringing about a fundamental, structural change in the semiconductor industry as well, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. While the demand for certain devices such as notebook computers and TVs underwent a sharp uptick due to the onset of the stay-at-home economy, this demand will return to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic has been brought under control as a result of the global vaccination drive. Nevertheless, the worldwide shift to next-gen telecommunication standards has brought about a replacement demand for telecom and networking devices, and this demand will continue to propel the semiconductor industry, resulting in high capacity utilization rates across the major foundries. As certain foundries continue to expand their production capacities this year, TrendForce expects total foundry revenue to reach a historical high of US$94.6 billion this year, an 11% growth YoY.

Prices of Client SSDs for Notebook Computers to Enter Early Uptrend in 2Q21 with 3-8% Increase QoQ, Says TrendForce

Demand for notebook computers is expected to remain strong throughout 2Q21 due to the persisting stay-at-home economy that arose in the wake of the pandemic, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. In response to the high demand for notebooks, PC OEMs are actively raising a consistent inventory of components, including client SSDs. Nonetheless, client SSDs are now in increasingly tight supply because the preexisting shortage of NAND Flash controllers is now exacerbated by the power outage at Samsung's Austin-based semiconductor plant. SSD manufacturers are therefore preparing to raise the prices of SSDs. Accordingly, TrendForce has also revised up its forecast of client SSD prices for 2Q21 from "mostly flat" to a 3-8% increase QoQ instead.

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.

Revenue of Top 10 Foundries Expected to Increase by 20% YoY in 1Q21 in Light of Fully Loaded Capacities, Says TrendForce

Demand in the global foundry market remains strong in 1Q21, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. As various end-products continue to generate high demand for chips, clients of foundries in turn stepped up their procurement activities, which subsequently led to a persistent shortage of production capacities across the foundry industry. TrendForce therefore expects foundries to continue posting strong financial performances in 1Q21, with a 20% YoY growth in the combined revenues of the top 10 foundries, while TSMC, Samsung, and UMC rank as the top three in terms of market share. However, the future reallocation of foundry capacities still remains to be seen, since the industry-wide effort to accelerate the production of automotive chips may indirectly impair the production and lead times of chips for consumer electronics and industrial applications.

TSMC has been maintaining a steady volume of wafer inputs at its 5 nm node, and these wafer inputs are projected to account for 20% of the company's revenue. On the other hand, owing to chip orders from AMD, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and MediaTek, demand for TSMC's 7 nm node is likewise strong and likely to account for 30% of TSMC's revenue, a slight increase from the previous quarter. On the whole, TSMC's revenue is expected to undergo a 25% increase YoY in 1Q21 and set a new high on the back of surging demand for 5G, HPC, and automotive applications.

NAND Flash Wafer Prices Stabilize Due to High SSD Demand from PC OEMs, Says TrendForce

NAND Flash demand continues to rise as strong sales of notebook (laptop) computers spur PC OEMs to place additional orders for client SSDs, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. Also, the supply-side inventory for NAND Flash memory has already fallen considerably due to the aggressive stock-up activities of some smartphone brands. With customers in the data center segment expected to ramp up procurement in 2Q21, NAND Flash suppliers have decided to scale back the supply of NAND Flash wafers. Compared with other product categories, wafers have a lower gross margin. As a result of these factors, the decline in contract prices of wafers has been easing over the past two months (i.e., from December of last year to January of this year).

NVIDIA to Re-introduce GeForce RTX 2060 and RTX 2060 SUPER GPUs

We are just a few weeks away from the launch of NVIDIA's latest GeForce RTX 3060 graphics cards based on the new Ampere architecture, and there is already some news regarding the lineup position and its possible distortion. According to multiple sources over at Overclocking.com, NVIDIA is set to re-introduce its previous generation GeForce RTX 2060 and RTX 2060 SUPER graphics cards to the market. Once again. The source claims that NVIDIA is already pushing the stock over to its board partners and system integrators to use the last-generation product. So far, it is not clear why the company is doing this and we can only speculate on it.

The source also claims that the pricing structure of the old cards will be 300 EUR for RTX 2060 and 400 EUR for RTX 2060 SUPER in Europe. The latter pricing models directly competes with the supposed 399 EUR price tag of the upcoming GeForce RTX 3060 Ti model, which is based on the newer Ampere uArch instead of the last-gen Turing cards. The possibility for such a move is a possible scarce of GA106/GA104 silicon needed for the new cards, and the company could be aiming to try and satisfy the market with left-over stock from the previous generation cards.

Oversupply to Continue Affecting NAND Flash Prices, with 10-15% QoQ Decline Expected in 1Q21, Says TrendForce

The percentage distribution of 2021 NAND Flash bit demand by application currently shows that client SSD accounts for 31%, enterprise SSD 20%, eMMC/UFS 41%, and NAND wafer 8%, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. TrendForce expects NAND Flash ASP to undergo QoQ declines throughout 2021, since the number of NAND suppliers far exceeds DRAM suppliers, and the bit supply remains high. As Samsung, YMTC, SK Hynix, and Intel actively expand their NAND Flash bit output in 1Q21, the oversupply situation in the industry will become more severe, with a forecasted 6% QoQ increase in NAND Flash bit output and a 10-15% QoQ decline in NAND Flash ASP in 1Q21.

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.

XBOX Series X, Series S Shortages to Continue Well Into 2021

XBOX boss Phil Spencer recently warned interested parties on the new Microsoft Xbox family of devices that supply shortages may not be so short-lived as we would've hoped. More recently, XBOX chief Financial Officer Tim Stuart said he believes that demand will continue to outstrip supply well after the holiday season and at least until April 2021 - a point at which Microsoft might just be able to match demand with its supply.

"I think we'll continue to see supply shortages as we head into the post-holiday quarter, so Microsoft's Q3, calendar Q1," said Xbox chief financial officer Tim Stuart, Speaking at the Jefferies Interactive Entertainment Virtual Conference (transcribed by Seeking Alpha). "And then when we get to Q4, all of our supply chain continuing to go full speed heading into kind of the pre-summer months. And that's where I start to - I expect to see a little bit of the demand - the supply profile, meeting the demand profile." Microsoft's fiscal Q4 runs from April through June. Whether or not that's true, one thing we can now for sure: while supply isn't enough to satisfy demand, we'll see scalpers continuing to sell what consoles and graphics cards they managed to snag for outrageous prices. Don't cede: vote with your wallet and don't give them a pat on the back with your hard-earned money.

TSMC Increases Orders of EUV Tools Amid High Demand

In the latest report by DigiTimes, it is said that TSMC has placed an order on 13 Extreme Ultra-Violet (EUV) machines from the Dutch company ASML. Thanks to the rapid increase in demand for its silicon, TSMC has developed plans for expansion across the next few years to satisfy the existing and upcoming customers. Usually, the company knows and can predict its demand for a future period. That is why TSMC is expanding its capacities with 13 additional ASML Twinscan NXE EUV scanners. These machines are set to be delivered by the course of 2021. It is unknown exactly when these machines are going to be delivered and installed at TSMC's facilities, however, it is fascinating that the demand for the company's capacities is ever-expanding. The price of single EUV machinery is as much as $175.75 million, so it is estimated that the expansion of capacity will cost TSMC a whopping $2.284,75 million. Despite the high pricing, the Return on Investment (ROI) is very high for TSMC.

TSMC Witnesses 28 nm Process Demand Soar

Recently, the technology trade war between the US and China has been very challenging for Chinese semiconductor manufacturers. With a new regulation to prevent the use of US technology on foreign lands, the US administration has managed to prevent many companies from manufacturing the latest processes, and they have lost a part of their customer base. In awe of this craze, it seems like many silicon designers are storming to the competing foundries to get their designs taped out. According to the DigiTimes report, TSMC has seen a massive spike in demand for its 28 nm semiconductor node. The surge is going to reach a peak of almost 100% in the fourth quarter this year. The growth is mainly being driven by Chinese customers who are switching their manufacturing facilities. The report indicated that Qualcomm, as well, is a big part of the growth besides the remaining companies.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080/3090 Founders Edition Sales Limited to BestBuy in the US

The supply of NVIDIA's newly announced GeForce RTX Ampere lineup has been quite controversial since the beginning. Demand for the new GeForce RTX 3080 and 3090 GPUs has been rather high and NVIDIA experienced big "demand issues" as the CEO Jensen Huang says. The company didn't expect such high demand and thus hasn't stocked up the chips for that many orders. NVIDIA's AIBs have also seen this problem with GPU demand, as it is too high in ratio to supply. As more chips are manufactured, we can expect this problem only to settle down over time. Today, we got an interesting piece of information regarding the availability of Founders Edition (FE) GeForce RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 cards. NVIDIA has posted on the forums stating the following:
Suroosh@NVIDIA
We have heard your feedback regarding the NVIDIA online store and are working to improve the experience.

In the meantime, we will be selling our GeForce RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 Founders Edition through other partners. In the US, you can shop for Founders Edition at Best Buy - GeForce RTX 3080 and GeForce RTX 3090. In Europe, we continue to review Founders Edition fulfillment options.

Founders Edition units are limited, and more will be available in the coming weeks alongside an increasing supply of boards from our global board partners.

Logitech Says It's Doing Everything it Can to Thwart Webcam Shortages

Physical distancing has meant a resurgence in technologies meant to bridge gaps in geography (mainly webcams), as people have found that face to face conversations and team meetings are multiple steps above emails. However, ever since the pandemic (and associated lockdown and work from home) procedures began, it's been difficult to find any webcams available for purchase - at least at MSRP. Both new and used webcams have seen their prices increased in wake of tight supply and demand equations, and Logitech, as one of the premier webcam manufacturers in the world, has been on the forefront of fighting these shortages.

In its latest earnings call, Logitech President and CEO Brecken P. Darrel told investors that "PC webcams continued the strong momentum exiting last quarter with Q1 sales more than doubling to the highest quarterly level in a decade... We're ramping our capacity to meet demand, working to overcome component shortages as we do. We expect Q2 supply to improve, but still -- it still could remain pretty tight throughout the quarter." Demand equations in a time of pandemic aren't an exact science, so Logitech underestimating demand isn't all that unexpected. here's hoping the company can provide enough units for the resale channel so as to normalize pricing.

NVIDIA Dismisses Investor Claims of $1 billion Wrongdoing in Company Finance Reporting Amidst Crypto Boom

NVIDIA has (not surprisingly) dismissed allegations that it had misled investors in regard to demand towards its GeForce graphics products circa 2017. The original allegation claimed that NVIDIA has wrongfully misrepresented GeForce division sales to investors by including crypto-focused sales on its bottom line. This, investors claim, painted a safer investment opportunity on NVIDIA stock than it actually was - the volatility of the crypto market and associated unpredictability in NVIDIA GeForce products' demand being the sore point for investors. Demand of GeForce products for gaming is considered to be less risk-averse and less elastic than crypto-focused sales.

NVIDIA says that investors cherry-picked corporate statements while ignoring others that, according to NVIDIA, showed transparency. The ammended class suit, which was amended in May 2020 from its original 2017 entry date, accuses Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang and Jeff Fisher, head of gaming, claiming they knew the rise in GeForce GPU sales was linked to the crypto mining boom and wasn't going to last in the long-term. NVIDIA says that executives didn't lie when they described crypto sales as a "small portion" of their revenue (which was disclosed at $6.9 billion for the year 2017). Another contention point from NVIDIA is that executives in the company (and the company itself) had no way of knowing ecactly what purpoze its sold GPUs were being put to.

Notebook Computer Display Panel Shipment Grows by Nearly 18% YoY in 2Q20, with Demand Momentum Projected to Last Until 3Q20, Says TrendForce

According to the latest investigations from the WitsView research division of TrendForce, issues with the NB (notebook computer) panel supply chain, such as material shortage, labor shortage, and logistic disruptions, were gradually resolved starting in April. The resolution of these issues, combined with rising WFH and distance education demand brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulted in a strong wave of panel demand in 2Q20. TrendForce projects 2Q20 NB panel shipment to reach 53.3 million units, a 17.7% increase YoY and 33.6% increase QoQ.
TrendForce Panel Shipment Analysis

TSMC Sees Higher Demand for CoWoS Packaging

TSMC, Taiwan's flagship manufacturer of silicon, has seen a substantial increase in demand for Chip-on-Wafer-on-Substrate (CoWoS) packaging technology, according to the report from DigiTimes. CoWoS is a multi-chip packaging technology that gives an option to build silicon like LEGO, allowing for dies to be placed side by side on interposer that is providing high interconnect density and performance. You can see more about CoWoS in detail here. Some of the examples of CoWoS are NVIDIA's P100 and V100 dies that integrate logic (computing elements), and memory (in the form of HBM) on a single die.

Recently, TSMC updated its CoWoS technology, where this new second-generation parts could scale far larger than the first-generation implementation - up to 1700 squared millimeters of die space, allowing for some very creative solutions to be implemented. This may be the reason that the demand in Q2 has risen so substantially and that TSMC's production lines are now running at full capacity, trying to meet the demand for this packaging technology.
TSMC CoWoS NVIDIA V100

PCIe SSDs Increasing in Demand, Overtaking SATA Solutions in 2019

DigiTimes, citing industry sources, has reported that PCIe-based SSDs will be overtaking SATA-based solutions during 2019. This makes sense in a number of ways: the smaller footprint for Pcie-based, M.2 SSDs means they are prone to higher adoption form laptop manufacturers tan their SATA counterparts. On the desktop and DIY side of things, SATA solutions have sometimes been preferred to their PCIe counterparts mostly due to the pricing delta between solutions across those form factors.

However, as NAND prices have declined precipitously, and PCIe controllers' pricing has done so too, we are now hitting a point where the cost strain on SATA's additional materials compared to their PCIe counterparts leaves the delta so small that it doesn't make any sense to purchase a SATA-limited drive (usually limited only by the speed of the SATA III interface itself) instead of a PCIe-based one. AS demand picks up some additional 20-25% for 2019, this will mostly be taken up by PCIe-based solutions. Pricing of a 512 GB PCIe storage device is now comparable to that of a 256 GB unit just a year ago. Pricing is expected to keep falling for the duration of this year.

DigiTimes: Micron, Samsung, SK Hynix to See DRAM, Flash Revenue Fall in 1Q19

DigiTimes is reporting that three of the major DRAM and Flash players in the industry - Micron, Samsung and SK Hynix - are expected to drop an astonishing 26% sequentially on 1Q19 and 29% YoY for 1Q19. The combined revenue drop for the three DRAM and Flash semiconductor giants comes in the face of seasonality and decreasing prices, and the decline continues an already negative 4Q18, which saw a decrease of 18% sequentially and 26% from a year earlier.

With memory pricing facing a continuous decline in recent times, clients are taking a pondered approach towards ordering from manufacturers - an expectation of future savings being the main factor for this. Demand, however, is expected to pick up in 2H19, due to increased demand from end customers, following price-cuts from manufacturers and improved specifications on end-products.
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