[News] Nvidia CEO Visits Vietnam, Plans to Establish Chip R&D Base

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang announced on the 11th the company’s intention to deepen collaboration with high-tech companies in Vietnam, with a focus on fostering local expertise in AI and digital infrastructure development. Huang revealed plans to establish a chip center in Vietnam, as reported by Reuters.

According to documents released by the White House in September to enhance bilateral relations, Nvidia has invested USD 250 million in Vietnam. The company has strategically aligned with leading tech companies to implement AI technology in cloud computing, automotive, and healthcare industries.

This marks Huang’s first visit to Vietnam, where, during an event in Hanoi, he emphasized, “Vietnam is already our partner as we have millions of clients here.” He stated, “Vietnam and Nvidia will deepen our relations, with Viettel, FPT, Vingroup, VNG being the partners Nvidia looks to expand partnership with,” Huang said, adding Nvidia would support Vietnam’s artificial training and infrastructure.

Vietnam’s Minister of Planning and Investment, Chi Dung Nguyen, highlighted during the meeting on December 11th the country’s ongoing efforts to design mechanisms and incentives to attract investments in semiconductor and AI projects.

During his meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on the 10th, Huang shared the vision of establishing an R&D center, emphasizing that “the base will be for attracting talent from around the world to contribute to the development of Vietnam’s semiconductor ecosystem and digitalization.” Subsequently, on the 11th, Nguyen Chi Dung extended an invitation for Nvidia to consider establishing an R&D base in the country.

On the 11th, Nvidia engaged in discussions with the Vietnamese government and local tech companies regarding semiconductor cooperation agreements. According to insiders, Nvidia may potentially reach a technology transfer agreement with at least one Vietnamese company.

Given the strained trade relations between China and the U.S., Vietnam’s technology and manufacturing sectors are presented with a significant opportunity. The government actively seeks to enhance chip design capabilities and explore avenues for establishing a viable chip manufacturing industry.

Vietnam already serves as a pivotal IC packaging hub for global chip manufacturers. For instance, Intel boasts that it has world’s largest IC packaging and testing facility, is situated in Vietnam. Despite temporary delays in the expansion of its Vietnamese factory due to power supply and bureaucratic challenges, Intel affirmed in a Reuters interview, “Vietnam will continue to be a critical part of our global manufacturing operations as demand for semiconductors grows.”

Furthermore, several chipmakers have recently set up or expanded production facilities in Vietnam. Major OSAT provider Amkor commenced operations at its new USD 1.6 billion IC packaging plant in Yen Phong 2C Industrial Park, Bac Ninh Province, Vietnam, in October this year. A month earlier, Samsung’s OSAT partner, Hana Micron, announced the inauguration of its USD 600 million IC packaging plant in Bac Giang Province.

Please note that this article cites information from Reuters 

(Image: Nvidia)

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[News] Luxshare Reportedly Abandons Plans for Indian Manufacturing, Shifts Focus to Vietnam

Luxshare, a crucial player in the Chinese Apple supply chain, is facing challenges in its Indian expansion plans due to the strained relations between China and India. Several Indian media outlets reported that Luxshare has revised its initial investment plan of $330 million, opting to forgo establishing manufacturing facilities in India, stating, “This decision is a setback for India.”

Following these reports, Luxshare clarified on the evening of the 20th that the mentioned reports are inaccurate, emphasizing that Luxshare has not made any $330 million investment decisions in India.

Akin to Taiwanese companies, Chinese companies have been establishing manufacturing facilities in India in recent years as Apple gradually diversifies its supply chain to Vietnam, India, and other locations, reported by ET Telecom. Earlier this year, the Indian government tentatively approved approximately 14 Apple suppliers from China, including Luxshare and Sunny Optical.

However, the condition for approval required these Chinese companies to form joint ventures with local businesses, becoming a hindrance for Chinese investments in India. As a result, some companies are exploring alternative locations. On November 9th, the Bac Giang Industrial Zones Authority in Vietnam announced that Luxshare would make an additional investment of $330 million to construct new production facilities in the province. Indian media interpreted this change in plans by Chinese companies as “India’s loss and Vietnam’s gain.”

In June of this year, Luxshare shareholders expressed concerns about the company’s recent challenges in India. However, Luxshare’s top management emphasized the necessity of comprehensive guarantees in investment, politics, customer relations, and other aspects before contemplating the establishment of manufacturing facilities in India. Currently, Luxshare remains focused on consumer electronics in Vietnam, while maintaining automotive and communication production lines in Mexico.

Chinese media also highlighted that, amid the current tensions in Sino-Indian relations, another major Apple supplier in China, BYD, is facing a similar situation. Previously, BYD planned to expand its presence in India and attempted to establish an iPad assembly line in February 2021. However, BYD announced that this investment had shifted to Vietnam in May, with plans to invest USD 184 million in the production of electronic components.

(Image: Luxshare)


[Insights] Intensified Competition between Foxconn and Quanta in Apple’s Supply Chain

On October 31, 2023, Apple held a product launch event for its M3 chips. Reports suggest that Foxconn has secured a portion of existing MacBook Pro and iMac orders from Quanta. This marks the first time Foxconn has taken orders for higher-end MacBook Pro models.

The order distribution between Foxconn and Quanta has shifted, resulting in a more balanced competition. Quanta may need to expedite the introduction of new factory automation projects and relocate production facilities to reduce labor costs and regain its share of MacBook Pro and iMac orders.

TrendForce’s Insights:

  1. Foxconn’s Notebook Factories Excel in Materials, Automation, and Factory Management

Up until 2022, Apple’s computer assembly supply chain was primarily served by two Taiwanese companies, Foxconn and Quanta. In the second half of 2022, Chinese company Wingtech Technology entered the Apple computer assembly supply chain for the first time, initially securing a small portion of orders for MacBook Air products. While they currently hold only a fraction of the orders, they will undoubtedly pose a significant challenge to Foxconn and Quanta in the future.

Quanta, favored by Apple for its tech-oriented approach, faces tough competition from Foxconn, known for its high degree of factory management and production line automation.

The reason for Quanta losing a portion of its high-end notebook orders might be linked to the minimal design differences between the new models featuring the M3 chip and their predecessors.

Moreover, their assembly, testing, and packaging processes remain alike. Hence, Apple adjusts order proportions in its supply chain according to the production yield and quotes from assembly factories as part of risk management. Material costs, labor expenses, and production-related costs are the main elements in the product cost structure. At this stage, labor costs in Shanghai are higher than in Chengdu.

Additionally, Foxconn is one of Apple’s computer case suppliers, giving it priority in material usage. Given Foxconn’s extensive projects for production line automation, their acquisition of Apple’s high-end M3 chip orders for the MacBook Pro has significantly bolstered their standing.

In the future, as long as Apple’s computer designs undergo minimal changes, Foxconn can enhance its output by accelerating the replication of similar production lines. This strategy aims to satisfy customer demands across production volume, costs, quality, and delivery time. Consequently, Foxconn’s aim to capture a share of Quanta’s orders is just a matter of time.

  1. Quanta Needs to Accelerate Factory Automation and Establish Vietnam Facilities

Quanta’s factory in Shanghai, producing computer goods, operates within a labor-intensive industry. With the continual rise in local labor costs, recruiting in Shanghai, primarily an area with a service and finance-oriented workforce, becomes increasingly challenging. This scenario significantly impacts the overall workforce deployment in the production line.

Despite having facilities in Chongqing, the company’s strong presence of Apple repair centers in Shanghai anchors its focus there. Moreover, the ongoing establishment of Quanta’s Vietnamese facilities abroad will take time to address production capacity. Hence, Quanta might need to expedite factory automation in Shanghai to reduce labor usage, effectively cutting costs, and potentially regaining Apple orders.

Apple’s computer assembly has long been centered around China, but due to geopolitical influences, Quanta has ultimately shifted to establish production facilities in Vietnam

Vietnam has emerged as an electronic industry hub in the “China+1” strategy. Quanta should leverage local resources to transfer small-scale production lines to Vietnam for manufacturing. By obtaining brand verification for these products beforehand, they aim to shorten the preparation time before mass production, with the goal of reducing costs, improving yields, and regaining customer confidence.

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(Photo credit: Pixabay)


[Insights] Google Teams Up with HP to Produce Chromebooks in India

On October 2, 2023, the CEO of Alphabet announced that Google, under its umbrella, is partnering with the leading laptop brand, HP, to manufacture Chromebook laptops in India. This move comes at a time when Dell, Asus, and other laptop manufacturers have begun production in India. HP is leveraging its existing local factories and government incentives, aiming to capitalize on the vast population and educational opportunities in India. In a similar vein, Samsung and Google have collaborated in Vietnam to launch the Galaxy Chromebook Go, targeting the education sector. The Chromebook is gradually expanding its production and introduction to various regions.

TrendForce’s Insights:

  1. Google Teams Up with HP to Launch Chromebook, Chromebook Plus Aims to Attract New Consumer Segments

Through the collaboration of HP, a dominant player in the global laptop market, and Google, renowned for its software expertise in the Chrome operating system, Chromebooks are set to be manufactured in India for the first time. This partnership leverages the power of two industry giants to produce Chromebooks locally, offering a cost-effective alternative to the long-standing dominance of white label tablets in India’s education market. Chromebooks, equipped with the Chrome OS, known for easy management and robust security, are set to benefit from government incentives and manufacturer collaborations, working together to create affordable, secure, and high-quality devices. This effort aims to enhance the learning experience for Indian students.

HP, since 2020, has been utilizing the Flex Ltd. factory in Chennai, India, for the production of laptops and desktops. On October 2, 2023, they extended their production line to include Chromebooks. The factory will assemble various types of devices, including laptops, desktops, and Chromebooks, all designed to cater to the local market’s needs. This move is expected to enhance HP’s brand value and market share in India.

In addition, Google and various leading brands launched the Chromebook Plus in the North American market on October 8, 2023. The new models come in screen sizes of 14 inches and 15.6 inches, boasting high-end hardware configurations and AI features. The base model starts at $399.99, with a price difference of less than $200 compared to conventional laptops currently sold in India. This suggests the possibility of local production for the Google Chromebook Plus in India, aiming to attract a diverse range of consumers.

  1. Apart from India’s policies and incentives, Vietnam also Attracts Foreign Investment with EU Tariff Benefits and Low Labor Costs

India, with its population of 1.4 billion, presents a dual advantage of a vast labor force and a significant domestic market. After the successful local assembly of iPhones in India, the nation is taking strides toward its goal of local manufacturing. The Indian government has initiated the “Make in India” policy, aiming to entice the production, assembly, and shipment of more electronic end-products in the country. In August 2023, the Indian government announced a delayed implementation of import restrictions on computer products, with a decision pending a year later. Currently, many brand manufacturers can still import fully assembled products into India, temporarily avoiding the impact of high tariffs on imported materials and equipment. Brand manufacturers may also utilize this period to actively collaborate with the government in planning local production initiatives in the region.

Beyond India, numerous Taiwanese assembly plants have made investments in Vietnam. In contrast to India’s policy-driven approach to local manufacturing, Vietnam offers advantages such as EU tariff preferences and low labor costs. For example, Samsung has previously established its dominance in Vietnam by assembling panel modules and laptops. As a result, in collaboration with Google, they introduced the Galaxy Chromebook Go in Vietnam, targeting local markets with simplified, lower-end laptop configurations. It is speculated that other Taiwanese manufacturing plants in Vietnam will follow this operating model.

As the overall technological and industrial capabilities in Vietnam continue to improve, they are poised to take on mid to high-end laptop models by 2024-2025. While American brands continue to rely on China for the production of consumer and business laptops, the collaboration between Google Chromebook and other brand manufacturers in regions like India and Vietnam is expected to become increasingly close.


India Defers Import Restrictions on Electronics, Divergent Approaches by Taiwanese and American Brands

According to reports in the Indian media, India has decided to delay the implementation of import restrictions on electronic products such as laptops, tablets, and servers. This delay pushes the commencement date to November 2023. As a result, Taiwanese, American, and Chinese laptop manufacturers are now reevaluating their production strategies in India and expediting their applications for importing electronic goods.

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