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Press Releases
AMD Set to Become Fourth Largest IC Design Company After Xilinx Acquisition, Says TrendForce

2020/10/28

Semiconductors

On October 27, AMD announced that it had reached an agreement with leading FPGA manufacturer Xilinx to acquire the latter for US$35 billion Should the acquisition proceed as planned, AMD will greatly increase its influence across industries such as 5G, data center, ADAS (advanced driver-assistance systems), and industrial automation, in turn overtaking MediaTek in revenue and becoming the fourth largest IC design company behind third-place Nvidia, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations Furthermore, as AMD and Xilinx are both major clients of TSMC, AMD will command increased leverage when negotiating for TSMC’s foundry services following the Xilinx acquisition Thanks to their strategic approach to acquisitions and vertical integrations, Intel and Nvidia have traditionally performed well in AI, 5G infrastructure, ADAS, and industrial automation Although AMD falls short in these industries in comparison with Intel and Nvidia, it is quickly catching up by continuing to strengthen its CPU and GPU development and its partnership with TSMC In light of Intel’s current setbacks in 7nm advanced process development, AMD’s competitiveness in the aforementioned industries is taking a turn for the better On the whole, AMD lags behind Intel and Nvidia with regards to product breadth, product adoption, technology, and revenue By acquiring Xilinx, AMD hopes to close the gap by leveraging the programming flexibility and parallel computing advantages of Xilinx’s FPGA products to generate commercial opportunities in 5G infrastructure, AI, ADAS, and industrial automation However, Xilinx has suffered YoY revenue drops for the past three quarters due to the US-China trade war TrendForce analyst CY Yao indicates that, should the trade war further intensify and result in an expanded Entity List, Xilinx will face even more challenges going forward as a result Therefore, after 18 months, during which AMD and Xilinx are expected to finalize details of the acquisition, AMD’s executive team will be faced with a crucial test for their managerial competencies TrendForce believes that effective communication between the two parties is required in order for AMD and Xilinx to integrate and streamline their product positioning strategies, R&D resources, developer tools, and libraries following the acquisition The integration of software resources, including developer tools and libraries, will present particular difficulties for AMD, since these resources need to be compatible across CPU, GPU, and FPGA product categories

Press Releases
Kingston, ADATA, Tigo Take Top Three Spots in 2019 Global Ranking of Top 10 SSD Module Makers, Says TrendForce

2020/10/27

Semiconductors

The total worldwide shipments of branded SSDs bound for the channel (retail) market in 2019 reached 131 million units, showing an increase of almost 60% from 2018, according to TrendForce's latest investigations This result also indicated a further and substantial growth in SSD adoption Kingston, ADATA, and Tigo remained first, second, and third place respectively in the global ranking of branded SSD module makers (excluding NAND Flash suppliers) by shipment market share for retail SSDs TrendForce’s ranking of SSD module makers for 2019 is based on the same criteria as before Specifically, the shipment calculation only takes account of products that are bound for the channel market and under brands owned by manufacturers themselves (including brands licensed from third parties) NAND Flash suppliers are excluded from the ranking in order to provide a better comparison of the shipment shares of the world’s top 10 branded SSD module makers Together, the top 10 accounted for around 61% of the total worldwide shipments in 2019 Looking at the channel market for SSDs as a whole, NAND Flash suppliers (including Samsung, Kioxia, WDC, Micron, SK Hynix, and Intel) accounted for around 35% of the total shipments in 2019 The shipment share of SSD module makers (encompassing manufacturers of branded and white-box products) came to around 65% for the same year Taiwan-based Transcend fell to the 10th spot, while the Chinese landscape remained hypercompetitive, with major changes throughout the ranks Kingston exploited the continuing slide in the overall ASP of NAND Flash and operated against headwinds Also, Kingston has an extensive global network of sales channels, and its product support service is well developed All these factors contributed to the cementing of the company’s position as the leader in the global shipment ranking, with a 26% market share in 2019 ADATA is one of the few Taiwan-based SSD module makers that focus on the channel market Last year, ADATA kept building up the value of its brand and expanded its presence in the market for high-end hardware deployed in the e-sports scene Moreover, the solutions that the company provides in the channel market are diverse and flexible in pricing Owing to its strategy and wide selection of offerings, ADATA was able to post a growth in market share compared with 2018 Most Chinese SSD module makers were impacted by a severe price slump in 2019 Some were unable to maintain a stable supply of products, while a few others exited the market altogether However, Tigo was a notable exception The company already set up a well-functioning production system when it was first established, and it has developed a comprehensive product lineup To further enhance its brand image and quality, Tigo also launched solutions for industrial applications in 2019 Hence, the company is still the leader among Chinese SSD module makers with respect to market share The 4th to 10th ranks on the top 10 list indicate the continued growth of the Chinese channel markets and the rising ranks of Chinese module makers However, the fact that most of these companies possessed similar market shares also reflected the hypercompetitive state of the Chinese market, leading to more and more tier-two and tier-three companies exiting the market due to their inability to turn a profit On the other hand, Taiwanese suppliers’ shipment performances in the Chinese market were severely hampered by the rise of Chinese suppliers As well, Taiwanese suppliers demonstrated a rather conservative channel market strategy, with only ADATA and Transcend making an appearance on the top 10 list This would suggest that Taiwanese suppliers shifted their sales strategies to invest more resources into the industrial and OEM markets, potentially causing their market shares to plummet even further in the future Companies such as Goke continue to pursue market share in china amidst saturated SSD market China-based suppliers MaxSun, Colorful, and Galaxy have all been established in the gaming market in China for years Although the three companies had possessed a certain degree of brand recognition, they experienced difficulties in raising their shipment volumes because they were all competing in the relatively homogenous channel markets In particular, MaxSun was able to expand to various sales channels by fielding a diversified SSD product range; the company was therefore able to maintain an upward shipment trajectory Thanks to their comprehensive market channels, Telclast and Lenovo gradually increased their market shares and improved their rankings in 2019 compared to 2018 After its acquisition by Longsys, Lexar went full steam ahead in the brand channel markets by aggressively utilizing Longsys’ resources Lexar underwent a rapid growth in its shipment from the supply and pricing support provided by NAND Flash suppliers and finally made an appearance in the top 10 list last year Making its debut on the top 10 list in 2018, Lite-On concluded its merger with Kioxia in July 2020 In order to maximize the group synergy from the merger, Lite-On will further streamline the entire range of its product lineup for the enterprise, PC OEM, and channel markets With Kioxia providing pricing support and Lite-On’s in-house SSD IC R&D capabilities, Lite-On may likely return to the top 10 ranking in 2021 by making headways in the channel markets Likewise, as one of the heavyweights in the SSD module market in China, BIWIN has been cultivating its channel market strategies since receiving brand authorization from HP to become the latter’s official SSD and DRAM business partner Going forward, BIWIN is expected to maintain a substantial potential for growth in the hypercompetitive Chinese market In addition to the aforementioned companies, numerous newcomers such as GOKE have been vying for a place in the vast Chinese market GOKE is planning to release its own SSD products by leveraging its SSD controller IC R&D capabilities The company hopes to establish a standing in the market through both product differentiation and localized manufacturing advantages Key upcoming trends in SSD market include the rise of PCIe interface and popularization of QLC architecture In the future, the main focus of SSDs for the channel markets will gradually shift to PCIe and QLC, with PCIe’s performance stability in high-speed data transmissions becoming a basic requirement In addition, given the intense competition among NAND Flash suppliers in 2020, QLC SSD has seen a massive growth in shipment volumes As suppliers gradually transition into processes above 128L, the cost advantage of QLC will attract more module makers to join the supply side of the market With high-speed PCIe interface and quickly declining QLC costs both becoming future market trends, releasing relevant products ahead of market competitors will be the key to module makers’ success On the whole, TrendForce forecasts a 10% YoY shipment decline in the channel market for 2020 On the other hand, sluggish NAND Flash prices are likely to persist in 2021 due to the oversupply situation in the market After SK Hynix’s acquisition of Intel’s NAND Flash business concludes and reshuffles the overall NAND market, the market shares of SSD module makers will potentially shift once again

Press Releases
While Close to Settling Legal Case with U.S., UMC to Focus More on Foundry Business in Future, Says TrendForce

2020/10/22

Semiconductors

UMC has announced today (Oct 22) that the legal case against the company filed by the US Justice Department for stealing trade secrets could now be resolved as soon as possible, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations Following close negotiation, both sides appear to have agreed on a reasonable settlement of US$60 million, meaning the case is likely closing in on a quick resolution, and UMC will be focusing more on its foundry business in the future At the moment, this resolution is pending on an approval by the court The legal case originated from an indictment of intellectual property theft issued by the US Justice Department against the Chinese memory manufacturer JHICC In May 2016, UMC entered into a technological cooperation agreement with JHICC, which had just been established in February of the same year Then in November 2018, the US government imposed export restrictions on JHICC to halt the operation of its production plant after announcing that the company was suspected of committing patent infringements At that same time, the US Justice Department charged UMC for facilitating JHICC in its attempt to illegally acquire Micron’s DRAM manufacturing technology Given the current shortage in foundry capacity, whether the tight supply of 8-inch wafer capacity will lead to a wave of M&As and capacity expansions will be key points to watch for Regarding the recent situation in the foundry market, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the policy responses to this crisis (eg border closures and regional lockdowns) compelled component suppliers and OEMs to aggressively build up their inventories during the early part of 2020 Besides anxieties about disruptions in the semiconductor supply chain, the pandemic has caused a dramatic expansion of the stay-at-home economy This, in turn, has sustained demand for certain electronic products such as PCs, servers, networking devices, and TVs Furthermore, the market penetration of 5G smartphones is climbing, and the build-out of 5G infrastructure continues apace Owing to the above-mentioned factors, foundries have been operating with a capacity utilization rate of 90-100% since 1Q20 It is also worth pointing out that the latest escalations in the US-China trade dispute has led to some reshuffling in the foundry sector Hence, the supply of available foundry capacity will likely become even tighter in the future The production capacity for various manufacturers, including Taiwanese manufacturers TSMC, UMC, Vanguard, and PSMC, South Korean manufacturer Samsung, and Chinese manufacturer SMIC, has been in a short supply status for a prolonged period due to the vigorous demand for PMIC and DDIC in the existing 8-inch wafer market, which has resulted in a price increase for some manufacturers Regarding 12-inch wafer fabs, the advanced process market led by TSMC and Samsung continues to flourish thanks to high demand for HPC and high-end smartphone chipsets UMC, ranked fourth in global market shares, currently possesses seven 8-inch wafer fabs and four 12-inch wafer fabs, with a total production capacity of 340K/M (12-inch equivalent) The manufacturer has foregone the development of 14nm and below advanced processes in recent years and instead poured all resources into 28nm and above processes as well as the 8-inch wafer market UMC’s 28nm capacity is both mature and nearing max load, with a small-scale capacity expansion currently under evaluation Assuming that the global economy makes a successful recovery, and the pandemic is brought under control in 2021, TrendForce anticipates that shipments of various end products next year, including servers, smartphones, and notebook computers, will surpass 2020 figures, thereby generating a corresponding high demand for various semiconductor components Although the outcome of the US-China trade dispute and the pandemic still remains uncertain, these risk factors have also induced foundry clients to keep their component inventory levels high, in turn leading to a continued shortage in foundry capacities, especially for 8-inch wafers In the short run, new M&As and capacity expansions will become potential developments to watch for in the 8-inch wafer market

Press Releases
Industry Giant Cree to Divest Its LED Operations as Part of Business Transformation, While LED Supply Chain Continues Its Shift to Asia, Says TrendForce

2020/10/20

LED

After global LED giant Cree divested its lighting business in 2019, the companies today (Oct 20) announced its plan to sell its LED business to SMART Global Holdings (SGH) for US$300 million TrendForce indicates that Chinese manufacturers have quickly risen in the LED industry in recent years, benefiting from superior production capacities and cost optimization measures These manufacturers are continuing to capture the existing market shares of major overseas LED companies, such as Nichia, OSRAM OS, Lumileds, and Cree Furthermore, given the poor state of the global economy in the past two years, companies that were previously dominant in the LED industry must now deal with the difficult reality of having their business operations or stocks sold off to other companies Cree’s LED packaging and lighting businesses generated more than $1 billion in yearly revenues for the 2013-2014 period At the time, its LED business ranked second only to that of Nichia in terms of revenue However, in light of competition from Chinese companies fielding aggressive pricing strategies and the gradually slowing growth of the LED lighting market in recent years, Cree’s yearly LED revenue reached a mere $480 million in 2019, and the company’s global ranking slid from among the top three to eighth place Final price of Cree’s LED business is limited by regulatory complications with US aerospace and military technologies According to TrendForce, Cree is estimated to sell its LED business for a mere $300 million, a far lower price compared to similar transactions by Lumileds and OSRAM OS This low price is primarily due to the myriad restrictions and export controls by the US government specifically targeting sales of technology companies In addition to Cree’s role as a supplier of LED lighting products, the company’s subsidiary WolfSpeed offers a range key components made from SiC (silicon carbide), a third-generation compound semiconductor material As WolfSpeed has been in close collaboration with the aerospace and defense industries in the US, it possesses a significant number of sensitive technologies On the other hand, the primary advantage of Cree’s LED technologies comes from the fact that its SiC substrates massively raises the overall performance of its LED products Since it is difficult to separate Cree’s LED-related patents/technologies from its SiC technologies, potential buyers of Cree’s business are therefore limited to US-based parties, in turn placing a limit on the final sales price The LED supply chain will continue its gradual transition to Asia, while Cree may potentially look for chip OEM partners in the future Under intense pricing pressure from its competitors, Cree has in recent years gradually outsourced its LED business to OEM partners with mature technologies, including Fujian Lightning Optoelectronic and Lextar TrendForce indicates that, even with the upcoming ownership transfer of Cree’s LED business, Cree is at the moment still an important client of its OEM partners, and its management structure will not change in the short run That is why the overall trend of LED supply chain shifting to Asia has not changed As well, SGH does not have a need for SiC substrate development, meaning SGH will likely adopt a more flexible business strategy which involves looking for Asia-based chip OEM partners in the future

Press Releases
SK Hynix to Possess Second Highest NAND Market Share via Acquisition of Intel’s NAND Capacity and Related Technologies, Says TrendForce

2020/10/20

Semiconductors

SK Hynix has announced today (Oct 20) that it will acquire Intel’s NAND Flash business and Dalian-based Fab 68, which is dedicated to 3D NAND Flash production, for US$9 billion In accordance with regulatory laws and policies, SK Hynix will apply for permission from governments in China, the US, and South Korea, with the acquisition expected to conclude in March 2025 TrendForce indicates that the merger between Intel’s NAND Flash business and SK Hynix will allow the latter to benefit from the complementary technologies, especially in the enterprise SSD market Broadly speaking, this marks the next chapter of reorganization for the NAND Flash industry According to data compiled by TrendForce, SK Hynix and Intel occupied 117% and 115% market shares, in terms of revenue, in the NAND Flash market in 2Q20, placing the two companies in fourth and sixth places, respectively In terms of product competitiveness, SK Hynix has an advantage in the mobile market, including eMCP and eMMC products, accounting for more than 60% of SK Hynix’s total NAND Flash revenue in 2019 On the other hand, Intel has been performing superbly in the enterprise SSD market Not only is Intel on par with Samsung in enterprise SSD, but it has also captured more than 50% of the Chinese market Enterprise SSD yields the highest profitability among the entire range of the company’s NAND Flash end-products The acquisition will have a complementary effect on SK Hynix’s technologies and bolster its enterprise SSD range In terms of production capacity, all of SK Hynix’s current NAND Flash wafer inputs are located in South Korea, whereas Intel’s NAND Flash capacity is entirely located in Dalian, China Among all NAND Flash suppliers, Intel is the most committed to the promotion of QLC architecture adoption, and QLC SSD is expected to occupy more than 30% of its NAND Flash bit output by the end of this year From a technology perspective, Intel insists on using Floating Gate technology in its 3D NAND Flash production This technology is vastly different from the Charge Trap technology used by other suppliers, including SK Hynix, meaning there is a significant difference in the etching processes between Intel and SK Hynix The acquisition of Intel’s 3D NAND Flash capacity will massively elevate SK Hynix’s competitiveness in the enterprise SSD market Going forward, it remains to be seen how the two companies will optimize their product portfolios following the acquisition in order to maximize profits SK Hynix is projected to secure more than 20% of NAND Flash market share after it acquires Intel’s production capacity, in turn surpassing second-place Kioxia and ranking SK Hynix right behind market leader Samsung However, it should be noted that this acquisition pertains only to Intel’s relevant 3D NAND Flash technologies and capacities and does not include its 3D-XPoint memory technology, which has recently received much attention in the market

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