Semiconductor market news(Mar. 10 to Apr. 16)丨Growth rate of semiconductors required by EVs is estimated to exceed 20%; CCTC issued price increase notice for MLCC products; DRAM spot prices stop falling…

01. Infineon: Growth rate of semiconductors required by EVs is estimated to exceed 20%

Apr. 14, 2023, Mr. Freeman Cao, senior vice president of Infineon Technologies and head of the Automotive Electronics Division in Greater China, said in an interview recently that the estimated annual growth rate of semiconductors required for autonomous driving is more than 20%.

Freeman Cao pointed out that the increase in automotive semiconductors, especially the semiconductors required for electric vehicles, is huge, with an average annual compound growth rate of close to 30%, and there will be a huge double growth in the next few years.

"Power semiconductors, such as OBC, DCDC, etc., also have an average annual growth rate of 25%, and will develop exponentially in the future. It is expected that from 2021 to 2029, in the Chinese market, the market size of semiconductors used in electric vehicle powertrains will grow at a compound annual growth rate of about 25 percent," said Freeman Cao.

"The estimated annual growth rate of semiconductors required for automotive intelligence and L2 and L2+ assisted driving is more than 20%, and the demand for automotive semiconductors for high-level autonomous driving in the future will grow enormously," he said. "In addition, semiconductors that promote networking, including body and cockpit, will also increase semiconductor demand. If the new architecture growth of Automotive energy absorption (EA) is also included, the demand growth will be greater than 30%."

02. DRAM spot prices stop falling

DRAM spot prices have stopped falling recently, much sooner than expected, while contract prices continue their downward trend in the second quarter, according to industry sources in China.

Industry leader Samsung Electronics has changed course and announced a reduction in output, which the sources believe is the cause of the spot price stability. Samsung has also informed distributors that it would no longer sell DRAM chips at rates lower than the current price, implying that its pricing policy may change soon, the sources said.

Memory module houses, on the other hand, believe that present market demand is insufficient to sustain a strong resurgence. Although spot prices have stopped falling earlier than expected, this may just be a temporary hold, said sources at the downstream module firms.

Furthermore, since Samsung revealed its planned production cut, numerous distributors have begun to suspend sales and have stopped offering their quotes, fearing that Samsung and other chipmakers may not be willing to sell at low prices at a loss, the sources indicated.

Samsung is looking to scale down its output for primarily standard DDR4 chips for as long as six months, the sources said. Samsung's output cut will begin to contribute to global bit growth in the second half of this year, resulting in significantly lower drops in contract market prices in the third quarter.

Samsung has given clear indicators of an impending production cut, as well as a warning about potential operating losses. DRAM prices are about to bottom out, which will encourage the market to resume hoarding, according to industry observers. However, whether prices can stop falling and begin to rise still depends on actual market demand.

DRAM contract prices fell about 20% in the first quarter and were predicted to drop another 10-15% in the second. As a result of Samsung's output cut, the actual price drop in the second quarter may slow, said the observers.

03. CCTC issued price increase notice for MLCC products

Apr. 12, 2023, CCTC, the MLCC giant in mainland China, recently issued a price increase notice, saying that it will increase the price in the second quarter, starting from April.

CCTC stated in the notice that the past year was the coldest winter for passive components in the past 10 years. In order to maintain reasonable profitability and achieve sustainable development, the company will devote itself to technological advancement to reduce costs. After consultation with partners, it was decided to increase the price in the second quarter and apply the new price from April.

CCTC did not disclose the specific price increase. Analysts believe that the current inventory adjustment of MLCC general products is coming to an end, MLCC shipments and prices are gradually stabilizing, and the downward phase is about to bottom out.

04. TSMC suspends construction of new fab

Apr. 12, 2023, According to reports, TSMC has canceled orders for all production equipment originally planned for its new 28nm fab due to changes in market demand.

The new fab was originally scheduled for mass production next year, but due to changes in demand, its construction plan has changed. The relevant mechanical and electrical engineering bids have been postponed for one year, and the clean room and equipment installation operations have been postponed accordingly, and all 28nm equipment planned to be purchased were also cancelled.

The report also pointed out that TSMC originally planned to build two fabs in Kaohsiung, including 7nm and 28nm factories. Among them, the 7nm factory has been adjusted due to weak demand in the smartphone and personal computer markets.

In March of this year, TSMC’s consolidated revenue was approximately NT$145.408 billion, a decrease of 10.9% from the previous month and a decrease of 15.4% from the same period last year.

Regarding this report, TSMC stated that the relevant process technology and timetable depend on customer needs and market trends, and it is inconvenient to make further comments at present.

05. ZF signs long-term supply contract for SiC devices with STMicroelectronics

Apr. 14, 2023, STMicroelectronics recently announced that it has signed a multi-year supply contract with ZF Group and will supply silicon carbide devices to ZF starting in 2025.

Under the terms of the multi-year contract, ST will supply a volume of double-digit millions of third generation silicon carbide MOSFET devices to be integrated in ZF’s new modular inverter architecture going into series production in 2025. ZF will leverage ST’s vertically integrated silicon carbide manufacturing in Europe and Asia to secure customer orders in electromobility.

ST will manufacture the silicon carbide chips at its production fabs in Italy and Singapore with packaging of the chips into STPAK, an ST-developed advanced package, and testing at its back-end facilities in Morocco and China.

06. Intel announces partnership with Arm

Apr. 13, 2023, According to a Reuters report, Intel announced that its chip foundry manufacturing unit will cooperate with Arm, a UK-based chip design company, to ensure that mobile phone chips and other products using Arm technology can be produced at Intel's fabs.

For a long time, Intel's wafer foundry manufacturing advantage has been weakened by competitors such as TSMC. Intel's turnaround strategy depends in part on opening up its foundry business to other chip designers, especially mobile phone chip companies.

It is worth noting that SoftBank will sign an agreement with Nasdaq this week to prepare to list Arm on Nasdaq and launch an IPO as early as this fall.

07. Renesas samples 22-nm MCU with integrated Bluetooth

Apr. 11, 2023, Renesas Electronics Corporation recently announced that it has produced its first microcontroller (MCU) based on advanced 22-nm process technology.

The first chip produced on the new 22-nm process is an extension to Renesas’ popular RA family of 32-bit Arm® Cortex®-M microcontrollers. This new wireless MCU delivers Bluetooth® 5.3 Low Energy (LE) with the integration of a software-defined radio (SDR). It offers a future-proof solution for customers building products targeting a long lifetime.

Renesas is sampling the new device to select customers now, with full market launch expected in 4Q 2023.

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