AGC Fine Techno Korea, which is a glass substrate manufacturing plant owned by AGC and located in the South Korean city of Gumi, suffered a furnace explosion that also led to injuries of plant personnel on January 29. TrendForce’s latest investigation projects that this incident will affect no more than 1% of the total global supply of glass substrates for display panels. However, demand is rising across the panel market. At this sensitive moment, any event that affects the supply of panel components could exert significant influence on panel prices. In the second half of 2020, glass substrate supplier NEG (that is based in Japan) experienced issues that constrained the supply and thereby fueled the rise in panel prices. TrendForce does not rule out the possibility that this latest incident will also further bolster panel prices to some degree.
Given the forecasted recovery of the smartphone market and the corresponding rise in TDDI IC demand throughout this year, total smartphone TDDI IC shipment for 2021 is expected to reach 760 million units, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Tablet TDDI IC shipment for 2021, on the other hand, is expected to reach 95 million units.
The stay-at-home economy generated by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in persistent demand for IT products such as monitors, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. However, the shortage of monitor panels has been increasingly severe since non-IT panels have been occupying most of manufacturers’ production capacities, while foundries’ wafer capacities dedicated to IC products have also become increasingly strained. Furthermore, Samsung Display (SDC) is set to shutter its panel manufacturing operations within 2021, during which its monitor panel market share is expected to drop to 1% from last year’s 12%, and as the ownership of CEC Panda’s Gen 8.5 production line transfers to BOE, other panel suppliers are likely to benefit from these events.
Despite previous expectations to shutter its LCD panel manufacturing operations, Samsung Display (SDC) will continue manufacturing panels in Korea, with a Gen 7 and two Gen 8.5 production lines operating throughout 1Q21, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. However, in consideration of costs, technological transition schedules, and client demand for specific panel sizes, SDC is expected to retain manufacturing operations at only one Gen 8.5 production line in 4Q21. It should also be noted that, instead of being an indefinite extension, SDC’s continued panel manufacturing is expected to conclude by the end of 2021.
Demand for IT panels skyrocketed in 2020 due to the rising popularity of WFH and distance education, in turn propelling large-sized display driver IC (LDDI) demand to 5.827 billion units, a 2.3% growth YoY, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. In the upstream semiconductor supply chain, various foundries’ 8-inch wafer capacities have mostly been allocated to other chips with higher profit margins, in turn lowering the glut ratio of LDDI from 3.3% in 2019 to 1.7% in 2020, representing a tightening supply.