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AI Server and AI Notebook Hardware Upgrades Drive Demand for High-Capacitance MLCCs, Boosting Average Supplier Prices, Says TrendForce

10 July 2024 Semiconductors TrendForce

The AI hardware boom is in full swing: TrendForce reports that the first half of this year witnessed a robust increase in AI server orders. Looking ahead, the latter half of the year promises more to come as NVIDIA’s Blackwell GB200 servers and WoA AI-powered notebooks hit mass production and begin shipping in Q3. This surge is driving ODMs to ramp up their inventory procurement and setting the stage for a spike in orders and shipments of high-capacitance MLCCs. The outcome is a welcome stabilization of market prices and a notable uptick in ASP for suppliers.

TrendForce highlights that AI servers, known for their stringent requirements regarding quality, and WoA notebooks, still largely built on Qualcomm’s reference design, heavily rely on high-capacitance MLCCs—accounting for up to 80% of their components. This reliance positions Japanese and Korean MLCC suppliers, who dominate this high-capacity segment, to reap substantial benefits.

The GB200 systems exemplify the high-volume usage of standard high-capacitance components. For instance, total MLCC usage in GB200 system motherboards is double that of general servers, with over 60% used in 1U and larger systems, and 85% being high-temperature resistant types like X6S, X7S, and X7R. This increase in component usage and monthly order growth has led Japanese manufacturer Murata to extend its lead time from 8 weeks to 12 weeks due to the rapid rise in demand for certain high-capacitance products.

Furthermore, WoA notebooks showcased by PC brands at Computex still require 1,160 to 1,200 MLCCs despite their lower power consumption ARM architecture—similar to high-end Intel business models. The MLCC capacitance specifications for ARM architecture are also significantly higher, with components above 1uF accounting for nearly 80% of total usage. Consequently, the total MLCC cost per WoA notebook has risen from US$5.5 to $6.5, pushing the final retail price above $1,000.

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