Happy Chinese New Year. Let’s hope the Year of the Rat brings a recovery for the semiconductor industry. The initial signs are all good with many positive indications in the news this week, but let’s hope the Wuhan coronavirus doesn’t derail the recovery by becoming a global emergency. To all those based in China stay safe and healthy.
Here is my weekly summary of all the key semiconductor and technology news from around the world this week.
In IC Insights 2020 edition of The McClean Report they predict that 26 out of the 33 IC product categories will show positive growth in 2020 with 5 products expected to enjoy double digit growth. This is much more positive than 2019 where only 6 categories had positive growth, but still not as good as 2018. Product categories expecting double growth, are NAND, Automotive special purpose IC, DRAM, display drivers and embedded MPU.
This week several major companies reported quarterly earnings, with a very optimistic message being given by all.
Texas Instruments earnings report pointed to a recovery across the IC industry. They said “most markets showed signs of stabilising” and forecast Q1 revenue midpoint of US$3.25billion. Last quarter they posted better than expected earnings of US$3.35billion, but this was still down 10% on a year ago and down 11% sequentially. As Texas Instruments have a very broad portfolio across all markets it is a good indicator of the general market so it is quite optimistic that they see the market stabilising after 5 quarters of decline.
STMicro also posted solid results for Q4 reporting revenue of US$2.75billion, up 7.9% sequentially on strong sales for low emission cars and next generation smartphones, though traditional older generation automotive products were down. The poor sales of established automotive products will also impact next quarter where they forecast up to 14% drop in sales. STM did also announce they will invest $1.5billion in 2020 direct at capital expenditure.
Intel also gave a very upbeat message at their Q4 earnings call. Intel reported that strong cloud computing demand drove revenue in Q4 to US$20.2, up 8% on Q3. For the year they reported revenue of $71.965billion, up 1.3% on 2018. For the coming year they forecast revenue to be up a further 2% at $73.5billion, with revenue in Q1 at $19billion. In addition Intel plans to spend $17 billion on capex to increase capacity to Ensure they can support customer demand and build inventory..
TSMC also gave a bullish message at their investors conference. CC Wei, TSMC’s CEO said he expected revenue for 2020 to grow by more than 17% driven by demand for smartphones, high performance computer devices, the Internet of Things related applications and automotive electronics this year.
In December the Global Purchasing Managers Index was neutral with a PMI of 50 on average, however this varies by country significantly with China, Taiwan and South Korea all showing modest expansion.
Several 3rd party foundry vendors are entering or expanding their efforts in the silicon carbide (SiC) foundry business amid booming demand for the technology especially from automotive applications. However the entrance of these new comers may not be so easy as the traditional IDM companies like Cree and Rohm use proprietary processes to differentiate their products.
Finally, with many different variants of 7nm technology being made available here is a concise summary of the differences between the variants and the benefits.