TrendForce Foresees China’s Mature Wafer Processes to Expand to 33% by 2027, Japan Secures Advanced Processes

2023-11-03 Semiconductors editor

The research institution TrendForce held its AnnualForecast 2024 Seminar on November 3, where they delved into discussions about global wafer foundry trends, the applications of AI, the dynamics of AI servers, and the demand for High Bandwidth Memory (HBM).

Joanne Chiao, analyst from TrendForce, observed that while AI servers have experienced robust growth over the past two years, AI chips account for just 4% of wafer consumption, limiting their impact on the overall wafer industry. Nevertheless, both advanced and mature processes offer business opportunities. The former benefits from the desire of companies like CSPs to develop customized chips, leading them to seek the assistance of design service providers; while the latter can consider venturing into sector such as power management ICs and I/O solutions.

Persisting US export restrictions continue to affect China’s foundries, causing delays in their expansion plans. Furthermore, the regionalisation of wafer foundry services is exacerbating issues related to uneven resource distribution.

Due to lackluster end-market demand and fierce market competition, the capacity utilization rate of 8-inch wafer foundries continue to decline until the first quarter of the upcoming year. Inventory adjustments are underway in the fields of industrial control and automotive electronics. Chinese foundries are more willing to offer competitive prices, and outperforming their counterparts in Taiwan and Korea in terms of order performance.

In the realm of 12-inch wafer foundry services, success relies on technological leadership and exclusivity. Competition isn’t as intense as it is with 8-inch wafers. This resurgence is driven by inventory replenishment, the demand for iPhone 15, select Android smartphone brands, and the need for AI chips. A moderate recovery is expected in the latter part of this year.

TrendForce indicates that, with the expansion of processes beyond 28nm, mature process capacity is expected to occupy less than 70% of the capacity of the top ten foundries by 2027. Under the pressure to transition towards mature processes, China is anticipated to account for 33% of mature process capacity by 2027, with the possibility of further increases.

It’s noteworthy that Japan is actively promoting the revival of its semiconductor industry and, through incentives for foreign companies establishing fabs, may secure 3% of advanced process capacity.

TrendForce’s analyst, Frank Kung, predicts that the shipment of Nvidia’s high-end GPU processors will exceed 1.5 million units this year, with a YoY growth rate of over 70%, expected to reach 90% by 2024. Starting from the latter half of this year, Nvidia’s high-end GPU market will transition primarily to H100. As for AMD, its high-end AI solutions are mainly targeted at CSPs and supercomputers. The AI server market, equipped with MI300, is expected to experience significant expansion in the latter half of this year.

In the 2023-2024 period, major CSPs are poised to become the primary drivers of AI server demand, with Microsoft, Google, and AWS ranking among the top three. Additionally, the robust demand for cloud-based AI training is expected to propel the growth of advanced AI chips, which may, in turn, stimulate growth in power management or high-speed transmission-related ICs in the future.

Lastly, concerning HBM, TrendForce’s senior research vice president, Avril Wu, mentioned that as Nvidia’s H100 gradually gains momentum, HBM3 is set to become the industry standard in the latter half of this year. With the launch of B100 next year, HBM3e is poised to replace HBM3 as the mainstream memory in the latter half of the following year. Overall, HBM plays a pivotal role in DRAM revenue, with expectations of an increase from 9% in 2023 to 18% in 2024, potentially leading to higher DRAM prices in the coming year.
(Image: TechNews)