[News] Latest Financial Reports of the Global Seven Foundries – How Will the Next Stage Develop?

Recently, the seven major foundries —TSMC, GlobalFoundries, UMC, SMIC, Hua Hong Semiconductor, VIS, and PSMC—have successively released their third-quarter financial reports and held performance briefings to explain the semiconductor industry’s business climate and the outlook for the next stage.

Overall, in the third quarter, both the revenue and net profit of the seven foundries showed a YoY decline compared to the same period last year. From the perspective of capacity utilization and foundry pricing, except for TSMC benefiting from advanced processes, seeing a rebound in capacity utilization and stable pricing, the other six all experienced declines in both data.

Recent news on foundry pricing and capacity utilization has been continuous. This article will take a closer look at the data of the above seven major foundries and the latest market dynamics to glimpse into the fourth quarter of this year and the trends in foundry services next year.

How did the seven foundries perform in Q3, and what about their capacity utilization?


In the third quarter, TSMC’s consolidated revenue was TWD 546.73 billion, approximately USD 1.731 billion, a YoY decrease of 10.8% but a QoQ increase of 13.7%. The net profit for the third quarter was TWD 211 billion, approximately  USD 6.677 billion, a YoY decrease of 25.0%, but a QoQ increase of 16.0%. TSMC expects fourth-quarter sales to be USD 18.8~19.6 billion, with a gross profit margin of 51.5% to 53.5%.

In the first and second quarters of this year, it was said that TSMC’s 7nm capacity utilization rate had dropped to below 50%. However, in the second half of the year, benefiting from Apple expanding its new product lineup and companies like Nvidia and Qualcomm entering the 3nm era in the second half of 2024, the industry estimates that TSMC’s 7/6nm capacity utilization will hold at around 70% by the end of this year, and 5/4nm will be close to 80%, with a monthly production capacity of about 60,000~70,000 wafers by the end of this year.


GlobalFoundries’ Q3 revenue decreased by 11% to $1.85 billion, and the net profit was USD 249 million, lower than the USD 337 million in the same period last year. GlobalFoundries CEO Thomas Caulfield stated in the financial report, “although the global economic and geopolitical landscape remains uncertain, we are collaborating closely with our customers to support their efforts to reduce inventory levels.”


UMC’s consolidated revenue for Q3 was USD 1.77 billion, a 1.37% increase compared to the second quarter but a 24.3% decrease compared to the third quarter of 2022. The gross profit margin for the third quarter was 35.9%, and the net profit was USD 495 million.

UMC’s utilization showed a significant decline during the second and third quarters, with its capacity utilization dropping from 71% in the second quarter to 67% in the third quarter, according to the company.

Looking ahead, UMC Chairman Jason Wang stated that short-term demand in the computer and communication sectors is gradually picking up in the fourth quarter, and the automotive market remains challenging. Customers continue to manage inventory levels cautiously, and the expected utilization in the fourth quarter is about 61% to 63%, with a QoQ decrease of about 5%, average selling prices remaining stable, and a gross profit margin of about 31% to 33%.


SMIC’s Q3 revenue was USD 1.62 billion, a YoY decrease of 15.0% but a QoQ increase of 3.9%. Net profit attributable to shareholders of the parent company was CNY 678 million (approximately USD 95 million), a YoY decrease of 78.41% and a QoQ decrease of 51.81%.

In terms of production capacity, SMIC’s Q3 capacity was approximately 795,750 8-inch equivalent wafers (an increase of 41,500 8-inch equivalent wafers compared to the second quarter’s 754,250 wafers), with a capacity utilization rate of 77.1%.

Looking to the fourth quarter, SMIC expects sales revenue to increase by 1% to 3% QoQ, and the gross profit margin will continue to bear the pressure from new capacity depreciation, expected to be between 16% and 18%.

Hua Hong Semiconductor

Hua Hong’s Q3 revenue was s USD 568.5 million, a YoY decrease of 5.13% and a QoQ decrease of 8.08%. Net profit attributable to parent company was USD 95.83 million, a YoY decrease of 86.36% and a QoQ decrease of 82.40%.

Looking ahead to the fourth quarter of 2023, Hua Hong expects sales revenue to be between USD 450~500 million, with a gross profit margin of about 2% to 5%.

In terms of production capacity, as of the end of the third quarter, Hua Hong Semiconductor’s equivalent 8-inch wafer monthly production capacity increased to 358,000 wafers, with an overall capacity utilization rate of 86.8%.

VIS (Vanguard International Semiconductor)

In the third quarter, VIS’s consolidated revenue was TWD 10.557 billion, approximately USD 334 million, an increase of 7.1% QoQ.

VIS’s outlook is relatively conservative. The company expects the semiconductor supply chain to cautiously control inventory in the fourth quarter. Although the adjustment of consumer electronics inventory is nearing completion, adjustments in the automotive and industrial sectors are later. The company expects a significant adjustment in the fourth quarter, with an estimated QoQ decrease of 8% to 10% in wafer shipments, a QoQ decrease in capacity utilization in the mid-single digits, between 55% and 60%. The average selling price (ASP) of products is estimated to decrease by 2% or less per quarter, and the gross profit margin will continue to decline to between 22% and 24%.

In recent information revealed by the supply chain regarding foundry pricing, VIS might experience a pricing decline of up to 5% in the second half of the year. Big clients may even have the opportunity to negotiate a discount of up to 10%. This trend is expected to continue into the first quarter of next year, with a further reduction, possibly moving from single-digit to double-digit percentages.


Q3 financial reports from PSMC show that, impacted by the decline in both capacity utilization and selling prices, the third-quarter main business recorded an expanded loss of TWD 1.408 billion (approximately USD 44.59 million)) and the after-tax net profit turned into a net loss of TWD 334 million(approximately USD 10 million).

PSMC General Manager Brian Shieh revealed that the market conditions in the third quarter still faced headwinds. To maintain competitiveness, PSMC has reduced prices to customers by about 4% to 5%.

It is reported that PSMC’s third-quarter capacity utilization is around 60%, and the gross profit margin is also impacted by idle capacity losses, dropping to 9.2%.

Regarding future demand, Shieh stated that the supply chain has now descended to a reasonable level, with market demand appearing in areas such as mobile driver ICs and surveillance camera CIS components. Visibility is expected to extend to around one quarter, so he is optimistic that PSMC’s fourth-quarter operations will grow by around mid-single digits.

The overall market sentiment is gradually clearing in anticipation of inventory corrections.

In general, as the fourth quarter is coming to an end, most companies still hold conservative views. In the consumer electronics field, such as PCs and smartphones, inventory adjustments have gradually reached the end, and some have already enjoyed the benefits of an upturn. However, inventory adjustments for automotive electronics and industrial applications are expected to lag, and this downturn is expected to be extended.

Among them, the views of TSMC and SMIC are worth noting. TSMC stated that customer inventory digestion will continue into the fourth quarter. Regarding the automotive and industrial platforms and AI businesses that TSMC has recently actively sought to expand, TSMC President C.C. Wei warned that the demand for AI is “not enough to offset” the weakening demand for chips in consumer electronic products on its earnings call in October.

Haijun Zhao, co-CEO of SMIC, stated that in the fields of smartphone and industrial control, Chinese customers have basically reached a balanced inventory level. However, European and American customers are still at historically high levels. Secondly, the relevant inventory of automotive products has begun to be on the high side, causing customers to be alert to market corrections, and orders are quickly tightening. Additionally, there are signs of a recovery in the third quarter in the smartphone terminal market, and the industry. As a whole, he believes that there will be a rebound in overall consumer electronics next year.

Regarding whether the global semiconductor foundry industry is slowly recovering from a downturn, TrendForce pointed out that in 2023, terminal demand is gradually recovering, and AI and automotive demand are maintaining growth momentum. AI servers are expected to grow by more than 37% in the next three years, and electric vehicles with the support of autonomous driving will have a compound annual growth rate of 30% to 40% in the next three years. Smartphones are expected to end their downward trend in 2024, with a growth rate of 2.9%, and servers will have a growth rate of 2.3%, overall leading to an increase in demand for foundry.

On the other hand, 8-inch wafer capacity utilization rate of foundries will gradually rise in 2024. The 8-inch production line produces products such as MOSFET, IGBT, and PMIC will still focus on 12-inch wafers capacity expansion in the next few years. In addition to adopting solutions from existing chip suppliers, the trend of customized chips has also emerged, and high-speed computing applications have become the biggest driving force for advanced processes. TrendForce predicts that the global foundry industry will experience a slight increase in 2024, reaching a growth rate of 6.4%.


[Insights] Polysilicon and Module Prices are still Going Down, While Wafer and Cell Prices Maintain Stable this week

Source to TrendForce, the latest solar materials price revealed that Polysilicon prices are declining due to decreased orders and increased supply; Wafer prices remain stable but face potential pressure.

  • Polysilicon

Polysilicon prices continue to decline throughout the week. The mainstream concluded price for mono recharge polysilicon is RMB 65/KG, while mono dense polysilicon is priced at RMB 63/KG, and N-type polysilicon is currently priced at RMB 68/KG.

Looking at the market transaction dynamics, orders took a hit this week, and collectively signing orders within a centralized period has ceased. Observing the price trends, major manufacturers are experiencing a decline in new orders, causing a further narrowing of the transaction prices for both N-type and P-type polysilicon.

Looking at the supply side, the new production capacity of leading polysilicon manufacturers is set to come online this month, contributing to an uptick in output. Consequently, the polysilicon supply will continue to outpace demand, leading to a further increase in polysilicon inventory, which has now reached the range of 90,000 to 120,000 tons this week. Shifting the focus to the downstream industrial chain, the wafer inventory has reverted to a reasonable level, and there’s a slight uptick in the activation rate of crystal-pulling manufacturers.

This has resulted in an increased demand for polysilicon. However, this heightened demand is insufficient to counterbalance the marginal increase in polysilicon supply. In summary, the price of polysilicon is on a downward trajectory, and with new production capacities slated to come online by year-end, the short-term supply-demand imbalance is unlikely to be rectified.

Compounding this, the absence of concrete demand from customers indicates an anticipated further dip in polysilicon prices. The inventory of N-type polysilicon is expanding, intensifying pressure on upstream raw materials. Consequently, the support for N-type polysilicon prices is diminishing, and the price gap between N-type and P-type polysilicon is expected to shrink.

  • Wafer

The prices of wafers have remained stable throughout the week. The mainstream concluded price for the M10 P-type wafer is RMB 2.30/Pc, while the G12 P-type wafer is priced at RMB 3.30/Pc and the M10 N-type is priced at RMB2.40/Pc.

On the supply side, there are indications that specialized polysilicon manufacturers may ramp up their operating rates, primarily due to a reduction in wafer inventory. The current inventory of wafers has dwindled to the range of 1.4-1.6 billion pieces, bringing substantial relief to wafer manufacturers from inventory pressures. Switching to the demand side, the pressure on cell demand persists, with cell inventory remaining unconsumed.

Consequently, some cell manufacturers are contemplating production cuts to mitigate potential future losses. This slowdown in demand from cell manufacturers is causing a sluggishness in the demand for wafers. Currently, both wafer and cell prices are hovering close to their production costs, empowering manufacturers on both fronts to engage in assertive bargaining. As a result, it is anticipated that price negotiations will reach a stalemate in the short term.

In summary, wafer prices have held steady this week, but it’s crucial to remain vigilant as wafer prices might face renewed pressure. This could be triggered by a decline in upstream raw material prices and the persistent lack of positive momentum in downstream demand.

  • Cell

Cell prices have been different with the G12 cell price rebounding and other types remaining stable this week. The mainstream concluded price for the M10 cell is RMB 0.46/W, while the G12 cell is priced at RMB 0.56/W. The price of the M10 mono TOPCon cell is RMB 0.49/W.

On the supply side, the overall cell inventory is proving challenging to deplete due to the persistently sluggish downstream demand. This situation is exerting increased pressure on cell inventory levels. Additionally, faced with the challenge of low cell prices, a portion of the high-cost P-type cell production capacity has been gradually scaled back. If prices continue to decline in the future, this segment of production capacity may eventually phase out.

This underscores the evolving landscape of P-type and N-type cell technologies, prompting cell manufacturers to reassess how they manage the older production capacity of P-type cells. Shifting to the demand side, module inventory remains elevated, yet overseas customer demand remains weak even during the peak season. In summary, cell prices have remained stable this week. With the support from the delivery of orders this month, there is intense demand for 210mm P-type cells, leading to a rebound in their prices.

  • Module

Module prices have gone down slightly throughout the week. The mainstream concluded price for 182mm facial mono PERC module is RMB 1.06/W, 210mm facial mono PERC module is priced at RMB 1.08/W, 182mm bifacial glass PERC module at RMB 1.07/W, and 210mm bifacial glass PERC module at RMB 1.09/W.

On the supply side, there’s a divergence in production schedules among module manufacturers. First-tier manufacturers are maintaining stable delivery schedules with sufficient orders, while second and third-tier manufacturers are compelled to scale back production to avert losses. Additionally, it’s crucial to monitor the impact of backhaul orders’ sale prices on domestic module prices. Turning to the demand side, overseas module inventory remains elevated, coupled with sluggish purchasing demand.

The customer demand for modules is heading into the off-season. Furthermore, the demand for distributed PV installations is struggling to turn positive due to overall weak demand. Faced with weak downstream demand, module manufacturers are adopting a strategy of lowering prices to facilitate more shipments, driven by the imperative to clear inventory by year-end. In summary, module prices are anticipated to experience a slight decline this week.

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[News] IC Design Industry Thrives Amidst Inventory and OEM Price Declines

Amid a two-year recalibration in the smartphone and electronic component supply chain, inventory levels have rebounded to a healthy state. The infusion of new applications like AI and auto driving has fueled a comprehensive replenishment of consumer electronics inventory, propelling IC design with a surge in urgent and short orders.

Although wafer prices surged by over 40% during the pandemic, recent declines in utilization suggest an impending price reduction cycle to maintain operational rates, expected to lead to a reduction in IC design costs. Key players, boasting inventory turnover periods below a hundred days, are well-positioned for a potential upswing in demand, as reported by CTEE.

While most semiconductor companies are anticipated to experience declines in 2023, inventory levels have already tapered off. MediaTek boasts an inventory turnover period of just 89.11 days, with Realtek and ITE Tech at 96.77 and 84.11 days, respectively.

IC design companies emphasize the dominance of rush orders in the latter half of the year. Despite the uncertainty of economic visibility, confidence prevails regarding the new applications like AI, auto driving, and LEO(Low Earth Orbit) satellites, promising an upsurge in demand.

IC design companies also point out that the 3-5 year cycle of device replacement is imminent. The infusion of new AI applications and technological advancements in decision-making and workplace practices is expected to drive business demand. Positive developments, such as Microsoft discontinuing support for Windows 10, are anticipated to gain traction by 2024.

Anticipating 2024, expectations hinge on the U.S. two-year consecutive interest rate hike policy. Global inflation is projected to ease, and consumer momentum is set to recover. Within the IC design sector, a gradual emergence from the trough is foreseen. Fueled by the dual positive factors of heightened demand and reduced costs, the industry is poised to restore itself to prospering conditions and orderliness.
(Image: Mediatek Facebook)

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[News] 1nm Chip Development Rise Competition Among Wafer Foundries for Advanced Processing

The growing importance of advanced processes in wafer foundries is evident, propelled by innovations like AI and high-performance computing. While 3nm chips have entered the consumer market, efforts are underway in wafer foundries to advance to 2nm chips. Recent reports suggest progress in 1nm chips, further fueling the competition among wafer foundries.

2nm Chips: Unveiling in 2025

Anticipated by 2025, the race for 2nm chips is in full swing, with major players like TSMC, Samsung, and Rapidus actively pursuing mass production. TSMC plans to implement GAAFET transistors in its 2nm process by 2025, offering a 15% speed boost and up to a 30% reduction in power consumption compared to N3E, all while increasing chip density by over 15%.

Samsung is on a similar trajectory, planning to unveil its 2nm process by the end of 2025. As report by media in October, Samsung Foundry, said on Semiconductor Expo 2023 in South Korea, has already initiated discussions with major clients, expecting decisions in upcoming future.

Rapidus aims for trial production of 2nm chips in 2025, scaling up to mass production by 2027. Reports in September indicated that ASML plans to establish a technical support hub in Hokkaido, Japan in 2024. Approximately 50 engineers will be dispatched to Rapidus’ ongoing construction site for the 2nm plant, assisting in the setup of EUV lithography equipment on the trial production line, and providing support for factory activation, maintenance, and inspections.

When will 1nm chip arrive?

Apart from 2nm, the industry’s attention turns to 1nm-level chips. According to industry plans, mass production of 1nm-level chips is expected between 2027 and 2030.

Nikkei recently reveals collaboration between Japanese chipmaker Rapidus, Tokyo University, and the French technological research organization Leti to develop foundational technology for 1nm IC design. Talent exchange and technical sharing are slated to begin in 2024, aiming to establish a supply system for indispensable 1nm chip products, crucial for enhancing auto driving and AI performance.

On the other hand, collaborations with IBM for 1nm products are also being considered. The computing performance of 1nm products, anticipated to become mainstream in the 2030s, is expected to surpass 2nm by 10-20%.

TSMC and Samsung are also eyeing 1nm chip development. TSMC’s initial plan to build a 1.4nm process wafer fab in Taiwan faced delays after abandoning the original site selection in October. Samsung aims to launch its 1.4nm process by the end of 2027, with improved performance and power consumption through an increased number of nanosheets per transistor, promising enhanced control over current flow and reduced power leakage.

(Image: TSMC)


Oversupply or Blue Ocean Shift? China’s Next Step in Specialty Process

In the previous articles (China Strives to Break Through U.S. Restrictions in Mature Processes, Aiming for Over 30% Global Share by 2027 and China’s Wafer Fabs Hits 44 with Future Expansion 32, Mainly Targeting on The Mature Process) we explored the overall layout of Chinese wafer fab and developments in 12-inch and 8-inch wafer foundries. This article shifts to navigating the challenges of preventing oversupply while strategically pushing forward in the realm of mature processes.

Due to the counterattack of international giants in mature processes leads to fierce competition for orders, the recent surge in mature processes over the past two years in fact has brought pressure to Chinese wafer fabs. From the perspective of the industry chain, it may also cause industry overcapacity.

The popularity of mature processes can be traced back to its extensive application market, research and development of advanced processes approaching the limit of Moore’s Law.

No need to say it also reflects the regular operation of market dynamics. In the current economic downturn, the demand for automotive electronics and industrial control systems(ICS) is booming, with 80% of their demand falling under mature processes. As the AI trend rises, many high-end AI and computing chips in China cannot adopt advanced processes, prompting a reconsideration of design changes to use multiple mature process chips instead of a single high-end process chip. This not only ensures shipments but also indirectly increases the synchronous multiplier of mature process chips.

Can Specialty Processes Become a Blue Ocean for China?

With the emergence of new demands in downstream application scenarios, the variety of semiconductor products continues to increase. Industry insiders state that global foundries are competing to target mature process wafer foundries. In this context, Chinese wafer fabs should focus on creating differentiation.

Therefore, specialty processes are gradually gaining attention in the current development of wafer foundries. In comparison to advanced logic processes, specialty processes particularly emphasize the research, innovation, and application of new materials (SiC and GaN are currently popular), new structures, and new devices. Specialty processes highlight wafer processes with custom capabilities for special IP and diverse technological categories. This is considered an important development branch beyond Moore’s Law, which involves continually reducing the linewidth to enhance chip integration.

Specialty process product categories are extensive and can form a competitive advantage in specific areas. These mainly include embedded/independent non-volatile memory, power devices, analog and power management, sensors, and other process platforms.

Representative enterprises in China’s specialty process industry include SMIC, Huarun Microelectronics, and Huahong Group. These companies attach great importance to the development of specialty processes. To meet the differentiated demands for product functionality and performance in the market, enterprises continually research and innovate wafer manufacturing process technologies, evolving into differentiated manufacturing processes.

For example, Huahong Semiconductor’s specialty processes include power management, radio frequency, power devices, and other platforms, especially in wafer foundry for power devices; Huarun focuses on high-voltage power BCD, high-performance BCD, high-reliability BCD, high-precision analog, MEMS, and six major special power device simulation wafer foundry processes.

Major wafer foundries have always attached great importance to the development of specialty processes. TSMC’s specialty process is leading by far, while GlobalFoundries and UMC are also focusing on mature processes and specialty processes. It is not difficult to predict that there will be fewer and fewer participants chasing advanced processes in the future, and new entrants will compete for the market in specialty processes.
(Image: SMIC)

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