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Taiwan's Passive Component Makers Conservative About Supply and Demand for Q4

After all the reports of component shortages over the past few months, it now seems that the power related problems in China are having an effect on demand of passive components, such as MLCCs (Multilayer Ceramic Capacitor), various types of resistors and inductors among others. As such, manufacturers of said components in Taiwan are cautious about demand for the rest of this quarter, with even big players like Yageo - they're the third largest manufacturer in the world of passive components - being conservative, if somewhat positive about shipments this quarter, according to Digitimes.

As many of the Taiwanese makers of passive components have factories in China, the power cuts in several provinces are adversely affecting these companies. In the case of Yageo, they claim to be able to maintain their production at its largest facility in China, due to it not being located in one of the so far not affected provinces. Some of its competitors aren't as lucky and have already seen losses in production and aren't expecting things to improve. Besides the power outages, there are still issues with the logistics and shipping, which is further causing problems.

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.

TSMC Claims Some Companies are Sitting on Chip Inventories

It appears that some of the current chip shortages might be artificially induced by one or multiple companies in the chip supply chain, according to an article by TIME Magazine. The article is taking a look at the role TSMC is playing in the global chip production industry and TIME has interviewed TSMC chairman Mark Liu among others in the industry.

Mark Liu is quoted as saying "But I told them, "You are my customer's customer's customer. How could I [prioritize others] and not give you chips?"" when asked about the complaints by car makers, since they were among the first to suggest TSMC was one of the issues. Due to the various allegations against TSMC, Liu had a team collect data points to try and figure out what was going on and to see which customers were truly running low on stock and which customers that might be stockpiling for a rainy day.

India and Taiwan Working Towards $7.5 billion Chip Plant Deal

There's no secret that Taiwan has been looking at expanding its chip production to other nations, with TSMC having agreed to build a plant in Arizona, while also discussing the subject with the EU. Now it looks like a deal is being worked out with India to build further chip plants there, although it's not clear who the intended manufacturer will be, as TSMC isn't mentioned in the report by Bloomberg.

However, the piece mentions 5G devices and components for electric cars, which suggests that it might not be a cutting edge node we're looking at here, but rather something a bit more conservative like 28 or 14 nm. India would make sense in many ways, but the obvious concern once again is water supply, although so far no exact location has been mentioned for the placement of the fab.

As if Things Weren't Bad Enough, China is Now Experiencing Power Shortages

If you were hoping for relief from the electronics shortages, then we have more bad news for you, as China is now being hit by power outages in various parts of the country. The outages are due to shortage in production, as China is trying to balance pollution vs. production, while at the same time trying to make sure its population doesn't feel the worst of the power shortage.

Factories in at least five provinces have suspended production to try and appease the government, which in turn will lead to delays in shipping whatever part or component they're making that is an important cog in the greater machinery that produces so many of the world's goods. Not all factories are affected and the suspension is obviously temporary, but it seems like we can expect a rolling production suspension over the next few months at the very least, which suggests that not everyone will get their new shiny toy from Santa this Christmas.

The New Chip Shortage is Passive Components

If you thought that the chip shortage was bad, then the building shortage of passive components, such as capacitors, resistors, inductors and so on, is going to have you in tears. Due to lockdowns in Malaysia and Indonesia, where most of the well known Japanese aluminium capacitors are made, the factories of Chemi-Con, Nichicon and Rubycon have been shut down for most of July and August. The three companies together control some 50 percent of the capacitor market and it's expected that the current situation in Malaysia will lead to a reduction in capacitor shipments by 30 to 60 percent.

At the same time, the increased demand for everything from computer parts to renewable energy technology has ramped up demand for these components. Some of that business has been picked up by Taiwanese and Chinese manufacturers, but whereas in the past you could get your order in some four to six weeks, the lead times are now three to six months and that's if you're lucky. DigiTimes is reporting that several Taiwanese component makers have seen a YoY revenue growth of 20 percent or more for the first half of this year.

Revenue of Top 10 IC Design (Fabless) Companies Reaches US$29.8 Billion for 2Q21, Though Growth May Potentially Slow in 2H21, Says TrendForce

In view of the ongoing production capacity shortage in the semiconductor industry and the resultant price hike of chips, revenue of the top 10 IC design companies for 2Q21 reached US$29.8 billion, a 60.8% YoY increase, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. In particular, Taiwanese companies put up remarkable performances during this period, with both MediaTek and Novatek posting YoY growths of more than 95%. AMD, on the other hand, experienced a nearly 100% YoY revenue growth, the highest among the top 10.

TrendForce indicates that the ranking of the top five companies for 2Q21 remained unchanged from the previous quarter, although there were major changes in the 6th to 10th spots. More specifically, after finalizing its acquisition of Inphi, Marvell experienced a major revenue growth and leapfrogged Xilinx and Realtek in the rankings from 9th place in 1Q21 to 7th place in 2Q21.

TSMC Rumoured to Build New Fab in Southern Taiwan

According to Nikkei, TSMC is set to start building a new fab in Kaohsiung, which is Taiwan's third largest city and located in the south of the island. It's also where ASE Technology Holding is located, which is the world's largest chip packaging and testing contractor. So far, TSMC doesn't have any fabs this far south in Taiwan, but it's not without its challenges.

The new fab is said to be designed to build chips on TSMC's 6 and 7 nm nodes, which are currently their most popular nodes, although this is likely to change as their 5 nm node begins to ramp up production. That said, there will still continue to be a huge demand for 6 and 7 nm parts, as these nodes transition to become mainstream production nodes.

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.

DRAM Module Revenue Undergoes 5% YoY Growth for 2020, with Varying Performances Among Suppliers, Says TrendForce

Annual shipment of notebook computers and desktop PCs underwent a massive increase in 2020 thanks to the proliferation of the stay-at-home economy brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic last year, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. In particular, notebook shipment increased by a staggering 26% YoY, thereby generating a corresponding demand for DRAM chips. Although the movement of DRAM prices remained stable in 2020, there was a palpable growth in actual DRAM bit demand. Hence, global DRAM module revenue increased by about 5% YoY to US$16.9 billion for 2020.

Looking back at the price trend of DRAM modules for 2020, TrendForce indicates that the market adopted a relative conservative outlook going forward in view of the ongoing pandemic. In turn, various end-products differed wildly in their respective market performances as well. For instance, while demand for notebooks remained strong, smartphone demand was relatively bearish. Server shipment, on the other hand, was at the same time consistent yet indicative of uncertainties, to some degree. In light of the varying performances in the end-markets, PC DRAM prices did not undergo drastic fluctuations throughout the year, and DRAM module suppliers posted earnings performances that were a direct result of their sales strategies, with certain suppliers, including Kimtigo and ADATA, able to raise their revenues by a massive margin.

Foundry Revenue for 2Q21 Reaches Historical High Once Again with 6% QoQ Growth Thanks to Increased ASP and Persistent Demand, Says TrendForce

The panic buying of chips persisted in 2Q21 owing to factors such as post-pandemic demand, industry-wide shift to 5G telecom technology, geopolitical tensions, and chronic chip shortages, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. Chip demand from ODMs/OEMs remained high, as they were unable to meet shipment targets for various end-products due to the shortage of foundry capacities. In addition, wafers inputted in 1Q21 underwent a price hike and were subsequently outputted in 2Q21. Foundry revenue for the quarter reached US$24.407 billion, representing a 6.2% QoQ increase and yet another record high for the eighth consecutive quarter since 3Q19.

DRAM Revenue Undergoes 26% Increase QoQ for 2Q21 Owing to Rising Quotes and Higher-Than-Expected Shipment, Says TrendForce

After DRAM prices made a rebound into an upward trajectory in 1Q21, buyers expanded their DRAM procurement activities in 2Q21 as they anticipated a further price hike and insufficient supply going forward, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. Not only was demand robust from clients in the notebook segment, which benefitted from ongoing WFH and distance learning applications, but CSPs also sought to gradually replenish their DRAM inventories. Furthermore, demand for products that are relatively niche, including graphics DRAM and consumer DRAM, remained strong. Hence, DRAM suppliers experienced better-than-expected QoQ increases in their DRAM shipment for 2Q21. At the same time, DRAM quotes grew by a greater magnitude compared to the first quarter as well. With both shipment and quotes undergoing growths in tandem, DRAM suppliers registered remarkable growths in their revenues in 2Q21. Total DRAM revenue for 2Q21 reached US$24.1 billion, a 26% QoQ increase.

NVIDIA Founder and CEO Jensen Huang to Receive Prestigious Robert N. Noyce Award

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) today announced Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA and a trailblazer in building accelerated computing platforms, is the 2021 recipient of the industry's highest honor, the Robert N. Noyce Award. SIA presents the Noyce Award annually in recognition of a leader who has made outstanding contributions to the semiconductor industry in technology or public policy. Huang will accept the award at the SIA Awards Dinner on Nov. 18, 2021.

"Jensen Huang's extraordinary vision and tireless execution have greatly strengthened our industry, revolutionized computing, and advanced artificial intelligence," said John Neuffer, SIA president and CEO. "Jensen's accomplishments have fueled countless innovations—from gaming to scientific computing to self-driving cars—and he continues to advance technologies that will transform our industry and the world. We're pleased to recognize Jensen with the 2021 Robert N. Noyce Award for his many achievements in advancing semiconductor technology."

TEAMGROUP Launches T-FORCE CARDEA A440 Pro Special Series M.2 SSD Unlock the PS5 Expansion Slot and Unleash Your Gaming Spirit

At the end of July, Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) announced the specifications and guidelines for expanding the console's built-in internal storage and confirmed that the PlayStation 5 (PS5) will now support M.2 SSDs for users to expand storage for game files and applications on the PS5. Today, TEAMGROUP's gaming brand, T-FORCE, is unveiling the T-FORCE CARDEA A440 Pro Special Series M.2 PCIe SSD with the industry's first-ever white graphene heat sink. The latest M.2 SSD, made specifically for expanding storage and will be available for gamers around the world on major e-commerce platforms in October, 2021.

The T-FORCE CARDEA A440 Pro Special Series M.2 SSD is being announced today by TEAMGROUP and is equipped with the industry's first-ever white graphene heat sink. The M.2 PCIe 4.0 SSD, created specifically to expand PS5 storage, can reach read/write speeds of up to 7,400/7,000 MB/s and offers storage capacities of up to 8 TB. The T-FORCE CARDEA A440 Pro Special Series M.2 SSD meets the specifications for the PS5 in heat sink size, read/write speeds, and supported capacities, allowing PS5 gamers to install it easily and get the storage they need instantly.

GIGABYTE Hacked, Attackers Threaten to Leak Confidential Intel, AMD, AMI Documents

PC components major GIGABYTE has reportedly been hacked, with the attacker group, which goes by the name RansomEXX, stealing 112 GB in data that contains confidential technical documents from Intel, AMD, and others; which are released to GIGABYTE under strict NDAs, to help it design motherboards, notebooks, desktops, servers, and graphics cards. The group also deployed ransomware to encrypt GIGABYTE's data, which includes these documents. The attack allegedly occurred in the week of August 2, and GIGABYTE was forced to shut down its systems in its Taiwan headquarters. This even caused some downtime for its websites.

While it's conceivable that a company of GIGABYTE's scale would maintain timely cold backups of its data, and can recover almost everything RansomEXX encrypted, there's another aspect to this attack, and it's the data the attackers stole. They threaten to leak the data if a ransom isn't paid in time. This would put a large amount of confidential documents, including motherboard designs, UEFI/BIOS/TPM data/keys, etc., out in the public domain. GIGABYTE didn't comment on the issue beyond stating that it has isolated the affected servers from the rest of its network and notified law enforcement.

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.

Second TSMC Fab Worker Detected with COVID-19, Chip Shortages on the Anvil?

Taiwan's most valuable company, and chipmaker of the world, TSMC, confirmed that at least two of its fab workers have been diagnosed with COVID-19, but maintains that it doesn't affect operations at the plants. Most regions around world, including Taiwan, are bracing for successive waves of the disease, and a spread of COVID at TSMC could spell big trouble for the tech-giants dependent on the company for contract-manufacturing of their cutting-edge logic chips. Taiwan has been mostly spared from the Corona epidemic, but is now experiencing its largest wave of COVID-19 infections, with its medical infrastructure under strain. The latest outbreak has the potential to throw operations at TSMC off gear, affecting the supply chains of tens of billions of Dollars worth devices and vehicles around the world.

TSMC maintains an internal epidemic prevention committee, which has conducted contact-tracing of the the two employees, and discovered 10 contacts. Some of these have been sent to home-isolation, while others are closely monitoring themselves for symptoms. TSMC pledged that it will monitor the health of its employees on a daily basis. It has also completed the disinfection of the affected employees' workplace, and public areas visited by them. It once again emphasized that the incident will not affect company operations.

TSMC Claims Breakthrough on 1nm Chip Production

TSMC in collaboration with the National Taiwan University (NTU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have made a significant breakthrough in the development of 1-nanometer chips. The joint announcement comes after IBM earlier this month published news of their 2-nanometer chip development. The researchers found that the use of semi-metal bismuth (Bi) as contact electrodes for the 2D matrix can greatly reduce resistance and increase current. This discovery was first made by the MIT team before then being further refined by TSMC and NTU which will increase energy efficiency and performance in future processors. The 1-nanometer node won't be deployed for several years with TSMC planning to start 3-nanometer production in H2 2022.

NVIDIA to Deliver a Keynote on The Transformational Power of Accelerated Computing at COMPUTEX 2021 Hybrid

TAITRA (Taiwan External Trade and Development Council) announced today that NVIDIA will be delivering a keynote, entitled "The Transformational Power of Accelerated Computing, from Gaming to the Enterprise Data Center" at COMPUTEX 2021 Hybrid. Jeff Fisher, Senior Vice President of NVIDIA's GeForce Business Unit, will present on June 1 at 1:00 pm Taiwan time on the massive opportunities that GeForce PC gaming represents for the Taiwan ecosystem.

Manuvir Das, Head of Enterprise Computing at NVIDIA, will then address "The Coming Democratization of AI." He will share three shifts driving this trend and explain how enterprises that embrace them can thrive in the coming years.

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.

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.

AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su to Keynote at Computex 2021—Third Year in a Row

TAITRA (Taiwan External Trade and Development Council) announced today that Dr. Lisa Su, President and CEO of AMD, is invited back to deliver a keynote address at COMPUTEX 2021. This digital keynote will be on Tuesday, June 1, at 10:00 AM Taipei time, with the keynote theme "AMD Accelerating - The High-Performance Computing Ecosystem." COMPUTEX displays will be digital this year, with keynotes and forums running on hybrid. "It has been a year unlike others. Technology has gotten us through some of the most challenging times," said James Huang, TAITRA Chairman. "We will continue to transform our exhibition models and practices to meet the evolving needs of our exhibitors, visitors, and media, without losing the most essential element of a trade show - connection."

Dr. Lisa Su is proud to join COMPUTEX once again in 2021. "The past year has shown us the important role high-performance computing plays in our daily lives - from the way we work to the way we learn and play. At this year's COMPUTEX, AMD will share how we accelerate innovation with our ecosystem partners to deliver a leadership product portfolio," said Dr. Lisa Su. At the COMPUTEX | AMD CEO Keynote, Dr. Lisa Su will share the AMD vision for the future of computing, including details of the growing adoption of the AMD high-performance computing and graphics solutions, built for PC enthusiasts and gamers.

TSMC Employs AMD EPYC CPUs for Mission-Critical Manufacturing

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the maker of various kinds of silicon products, is the manufacturer of AMD's EPYC processors. However, have you ever questioned what CPUs are actually behind TSMC? The answer to that question is quite simple. Today, we have come to know that TSMC is using AMD EPYC processors to power their manufacturing infrastructure and tape out thousands of wafers per month. AMD has published TSMC's case study, which pointed out that the total cost of ownership has been the main challenge of the Taiwanese company. By using AMD EPYC 7702P and 7F72 CPUs, TSMC addresses the need for both reliable and high-performing server infrastructure to power the manufacturing efforts. For research and development purposes, TSMC chose the 7F72 with 24 cores and a high clock speed of 3.2 GHz, which is ideal for the company needs and purposes.

For more details about TSMC's choices and solutions, read the case study here.

UMC Investing $3.6 billion on 28 nm Manufacturing Capabilities Amidst Worldwide Semiconductor Shortages

UMC has announced plans to invest $3.6 billion in increasing output from its 28 nm manufacturing facilities. This move comes amidst a global semiconductor shortage, and isn't the first time a semiconductor manufacturer "dust off" their older manufacturing processes as a way to remove pressure from more modern silicon manufacturing capabilities. In this case, UMC will be increasing manufacturing output from its 300 mm Fab 12A facility in Tainan, Taiwan.

UMC has entered agreements with some of its clients, who will be paying upfront for expected chip rollout in the future. In exchange, clients will get the benefits of preset pricing (thus avoiding any potential increases arising from increased demand or general price fluctuation), as well as UMC's assurance of certain manufacturing volume allocation towards their needs. Fab 12A currently manufactures 90,000 300 mm wafers per month (wpm). An additional 10,000 wpm is being installed this year and phase six will add another 27,500 wpm to the mix. The mature 28 nm tools will be installed in floors that already feature support for future tooling upgrades to 14 nm. UMC expects to hire around 1,000 additional employees as part of this expansion effort.

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.
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