IC design


[News] Vietnam’s Semiconductor Strategic Positioning by the US and South Korea

Report to Liberty Times Net, In a joint statement on the comprehensive strategic partnership between the United States and Vietnam, the two countries highlighted Vietnam’s significant potential to become a key player in the semiconductor industry. The United States expressed its support for the rapid development of Vietnam’s semiconductor ecosystem. To foster the development of human resources in the semiconductor industry, the United States will provide a $2 million seed fund, with future investments coming from the Vietnamese government and the private sector. These initiatives are seen as a significant step forward for Vietnam in its journey to join the global semiconductor industry.

U.S. census data showed semiconductor imports from Vietnam surged by 75% to $562.5 million in August compared to the same period last year, capturing approximately 11.6% of the market share. However, experts point out that considering the entire supply chain, Vietnam’s contribution remains relatively small.

Semiconductor manufacturing involves three fundamental stages: design, fabrication, and packaging. Since Intel’s Ho Chi Minh City factory is its primary production facility, Vietnam is primarily involved in the final packaging stage of semiconductor production, which represents the lowest value-added segment of the supply chain. According to data from the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), packaging accounts for only 6% of the chip’s value. Additionally, Korean semiconductor design companies are following Samsung’s lead by establishing factories in Vietnam, including CoAsia in Hanoi and Amkor in Bac Ninh province.

Shortage of Engineers in Vietnam Poses a Major Challenge

A shortage of packaging and design engineers poses a significant challenge for Vietnam. The country lacks the capacity for domestic semiconductor manufacturing. Currently, Vietnam has over 5,500 semiconductor design engineers, while Intel’s Ho Chi Minh City factory has shipped over 3 billion chips to date. The supply chain ecosystem of American giants is gradually taking shape in Vietnam. However, with just over 5,000 engineers, Vietnam remains a distant bridge to this multi-billion-dollar industry.

Vietnam faces two choices for industry growth: expanding its manufacturing sector or enhancing skills and value in the design and packaging phases. Experts suggest that Vietnam has chosen the latter. However, the shortage of personnel poses a barrier to Vietnam’s ambitions to increase the value of its semiconductor supply chain.

According to estimates, the semiconductor industry needs to cultivate 10,000 engineers annually, but Vietnam’s current rate is less than 20%. In fact, according to a report by the Vietnam Microchip Association, the number of engineers only increases by about 500 people each year. Currently, most of Vietnam’s semiconductor engineers work for foreign companies.

(Source: https://ec.ltn.com.tw/article/breakingnews/4432014)

[News] China’s IC Design Challenges: OPPO’s “ZEKU” Collapses, XingJi Meizu Closed in 5-Month

Major economies are investing heavily in semiconductor industries, with China leading at $143 billion, the U.S. at $52.7 billion, and the EU at $47 billion, according to “EE Times”. India plans to give $922 million amid U.S.-China tensions.

Despite China’s much larger subsidies compared to India’s, the Chinese semiconductor industry faces various challenges. But under mainly from the United States, to slow down its progress, some Chinese companies are struggling to survive, while others are shutting down. For instance, after OPPO’s unexpected announcement in May to close their IC design company ZEKU, active for less than 4 years, Holding Group, Geely, also declared on August 8th that it would halt its self-developed chip business through the Xingji Meizu group, only 5 months after its launch.

According to a recent report from ‘EE Times,’ governments from around the world are actively pursuing semiconductor self-sufficiency to meet their high-tech and communication needs. China, in particular, has taken the lead by planning a substantial $143 billion subsidy program to boost its industry and reduce dependence on the United States.

In the U.S., the ‘Chips ACT’ passed last year allocated $52.7 billion in subsidies. As per McKinsey, the cumulative commercial investments related to this endeavor have already exceeded $200 billion.

The European Union is also making its mark, aiming to increase its global semiconductor market share from 10% to 20% by 2030. The ‘European Chips Act’ is expected to see $47 billion in government investment. TSMC has confirmed plans to establish a factory in Germany and is expected to receive relevant subsidies.

Singapore is projecting a $19 billion subsidy for its semiconductor industry, while Japan’s exact subsidy scale remains unknown, with reports suggesting a minimum of $6.5 billion. South Korea is focusing on tax reductions for semiconductor-related companies, offering 15% tax credits for corporate groups and up to 25% for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Recently, the UK and India have joined the battle. The UK has set aside a $1.5 billion subsidy, and India’s ‘Semicon India’ initiative offers at least $922 million to bolster its influence in the global electronics supply chain. While Malaysia hasn’t disclosed the amount of support for its chip industry, the country is providing approved priority industries, especially high-tech firms, with a full 10-year tax exemption. The government also offers investment subsidies and various incentives within specific investment zones.

Amidst U.S. restrictions, China initially aimed to boost its chip industry and create its own ‘China chips.’ However, setbacks have occurred. OPPO’s IC design company, ZEKU, formed in 2019, spent a staggering $44 billion over three years only to shut down on May 12th, leaving 3,000 employees jobless. Geely Holding Group’s subsidiary, Xingji Meizu, also announced on August 8th their decision to halt self-developed chip operations due to global economic uncertainties. Their focus will now turn to product innovation and software user experiences.

(Source: https://ec.ltn.com.tw/article/breakingnews/4392195)


Driven by international IC design houses, global IC design market to grow by 14.4% in 2022

Market conditions in 2022 are chaotic and demand for chips fluctuate according to application. However, the IC design industry is driven by major manufacturers and the sales performance of high-end product portfolios such as data center, server, networking, industrial computing, automotive, and high performance computing will remain stable The overall market will grow to $182.9 billion, an annual increase of 14.4%.

At present, the overall industry is being negatively affected by weak demand for consumer electronics. In addition, the tightening of financing and the expectation of a wider economic recession further strengthen pessimistic attitudes. There is no opportunity for chip demand to reinvigorate in the short term, not to mention that the supply chain is already dealing with full inventories. A return of the traditional industry peak season in 2H23 will stabilize purchasing power while flat to single-digit growth in the IC design industry would be a relatively good scenario.

R&D expenses positively correlated with manufacturer revenue, AMD posts best performance in 1H22

In 1H22, R&D expenses at major IC design houses were positively related to revenue in general. The use of advanced manufacturing processes requires strong R&D capabilities, accounting for 15-35% of revenue. AMD is the most active among U.S. companies. After acquiring Xilinx and Pensando, AMD has aggressively invested in the research and development of data center-related product portfolios. In 2Q22, R&D expenditures increased by 97.2% YoY. In terms of Asian manufacturers, the impact of the poor consumer electronics market is severe and revenue growth momentum has all but disappeared. Therefore, the synchronization of R&D expenditure with revenue is also more conservative. Novatek, Willsemi, and LX Semicon product portfolios are dominated by mature processes such as DDIC and CIS with R&D/ revenue ratios below 15%.

IC design industry inventory on red alert, inventory adjustment to become a challenge by 2Q23

The IC design industry has accumulated inventory since 3Q21 and the annual growth rate of inventory has climbed to more than 50% in 1H22. Compared with the annual growth rate of revenue, the difference among American manufacturers is 20% and the difference among Asian manufacturers is 46%, indicating that inventory issues among Asian manufacturers is more serious.

The inventory levels of consumer electronics-related industries such as Smartphone, TV, Tablet, PC/notebook, and Panel, are at a 6 month level. The supply chains of IC design houses and distributors/agents are also holding substantial inventory. The inventory-to-revenue ratio of IC design houses has reached a red alert threshold of over 50%. With no improvement in demand, expectations that inventory destocking will be completed by the end of 2022 may be dashed. At present, IC design houses are desperately reducing booked foundry production capacity for high-inventory mid-level AP, DDIC, and Consumer PMIC/GPU products. If the consumer electronics market outlook remains poor in 4Q22, IC design houses could also claim a greater amount of inventory depreciation as losses. In general by 2Q23, IC design houses will continue to test their strategies for new product development, production planning, and product sales during the process of destocking the overall supply chain.

( Image credit: shutterstock)


Top 10 Taiwanese IC Design Company Revenue Top NT$900B in 2021 with MediaTek Contributing Lion’s Share

According to TrendForce research, in general, revenue of Taiwanese IC design companies grew significantly in 2021 with many hitting record highs due to active procurement of various terminal applications and the effect of product price inflation. These companies also performed well in terms of gross profit margin and profitability. The top 10 Taiwanese IC design companies generated revenue of NT$906.16 billion, or 54.3% YoY. In recent years, MediaTek has contributed more than half of the output value of Taiwan’s top ten IC design companies and has become a primary factor in the growth of Taiwan’s IC design industry.

Looking at Taiwan’s top three IC design companies, MediaTek, Novatek, and Realtek, in 1Q22, MediaTek benefited from the increase in 5G penetration and successive shipments of Dimensity 9000. A mobile phone release in March 2022 produced revenue growth which can offset lower demand for certain consumer products due to seasonal factors while the proportion of high-margin products in each revenue category will increase. Thus, annual revenue growth is expected to exceed 20% this year.

As for Novatek, although DDI and TDDI stocking has entered the off-season for traditional industries and demand for consumer electronics has weakened, overall market demand is still greater than supply and Commercial Notebook and Automotive demand remain strong. New products such as OLED FoD, OLED TDDI, FTDDI, and Mini LED will drive continued revenue stability. This year, Novatek will integrate TCON, PMIC, etc. for package sales, so that there is a relative price support, but the company must still dynamically adjust its product mix according to market changes.

In terms of Realtek, positive demand in the enterprise, industrial, and automotive sectors in 2H21 will continue to 1H22. With the pandemic slowing down, purchasing of commercial laptops and equipment has ramped up, wired and wireless network infrastructure is being upgraded, the automotive market continues to grow, and relevant products such as Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E, 5G Ethernet, and the new LE Audio Bluetooth IC are being launched successively, which will continue to improve Realtek’s performance. On the consumer market side, demand in the PC and consumer electronics markets will return to normal in 2022 and the TWS Bluetooth headset market will face a price war, which will lead to a suppression of Realtek’s shipments in relevant sectors. Regarding foundry price hikes, some customers have reported that they cannot afford further price inflation and are still in the process of negotiating terms of cooperation. In addition, Realtek has been destocking in 1Q22 due to the customer yearend inventory audits and component mismatching.

Taking a comprehensive look at 2022, TrendForce believes that the benefits of price inflation will gradually fade and demand for consumer electronics will moderate but not weaken significantly, while sustained strong demand for industrial, automotive, and high-speed computing will test the product portfolio optimization and cost pass-through ability of IC design companies.

(Image credit: iStock)


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.

Thanks to strong demand for major smartphone brands’ flagship and high-end 5G handsets, revenue leader Qualcomm’s processor and RF front-end businesses underwent remarkable growths, while its IoT business also benefitted from WFH and distance learning demands generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualcomm’s revenue from its IoT business reached nearly US$1.4 billion, making IoT one of the major growth drivers for the company. For 2Q21, Qualcomm’s revenue reached US$6.47 billion, a 70.0% YoY increase. On the other hand, Nvidia’s revenues from gaming graphics cards and data center solutions each grew by 91.1% YoY and 46% YoY, respectively, in 2Q21. Strong demand from cryptocurrency miners for Nvidia’s high-end gaming graphics cards, along with the data center segment’s demand for Nvidia’s HPC products, propelled the company’s revenue for 2Q21 to US$5.84 billion, a 68.8% YoY growth, and secured the second place for Nvidia on the top 10 list.

Broadcom, which took third place on the top 10, attributed most of its revenue to wired connectivity and wireless products. Regarding wired connectivity products, the continued build-out of 5G base stations worldwide resulted in increasing demand for Broadcom’s high-speed Ethernet controller ICs, whereas for wireless products, the release of certain high-end 5G smartphones also created high demand for Broadcom’s Wi-Fi 6E chips. Similarly, Broadcom’s broadband and industrial solutions businesses both underwent double-digit growths in 2Q21, thereby driving the company’s revenue for 2Q21 to US$4.95 billion, a 19.2% YoY growth. Turning to AMD, the company’s revenue for 2Q21 reached US$3.85 billion, a staggering 99.3% YoY increase, owing to the following: first, the bullish gaming console market; second, massive earnings growths from enterprise, embedded, and semi-custom solutions; third, increased client adoption of AMD’s server CPUs (it should be noted that AMD’s server processor business grew by 183% YoY in 2Q21). AMD took fifth place in the top 10 list for 2Q21.

Regarding Taiwanese companies, MediaTek was able to sustain the momentum it gained in 1Q21 throughout 2Q21. MediaTek’s smartphone chip business, which generated the bulk of the company’s revenue, registered a 143% growth in 2Q21. At the same time, its revenues from other businesses also saw an overall double-digit growth. Hence, MediaTek posted a revenue of US$4.49 billion for 2Q21, a 98.8% YoY growth, and reached fourth place on the list. Finally, Novatek’s SoCs and display driver ICs both performed well in the market primarily due to its close partnerships with major foundries, including TSMC, UMC, and VIS. Revenue from display driver ICs, which had traditionally been Novatek’s primary revenue source, grew by 81% YoY in 2Q21.

Certain rumors in the end-devices markets indicate that demand will likely undergo a slowdown in 3Q21 and lead to decreased orders for certain components. However, given that foundries’ newly installed wafer capacities have yet to kick off mass production, the ongoing chip shortage is expected to persist for now. In addition, as some IC design companies’ client orders still remain unfulfilled, these companies’ revenues will likely experience further growths in 2H21, albeit to a relatively limited extent. It should also be pointed out that Marvell is expected to benefit from Inphi’s earnings for the next two quarters and increase its own revenue by more than 50% YoY in 2H21. Even so, Novatek’s sixth-place ranking is unlikely to be threatened by Marvell in the short run since Novatek will continue to benefit from the ongoing chip shortage and price hikes for the time being.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

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