"2021 is the year that everyone remembered that chip mattered," said Wired Magazine. So far 2022 seems likely to be another fruitful year for the semiconductor industry.
Terry Tsao, global marketing officer and president of SEMI Taiwan, said in Semicon Taiwan on December 28 that investments related to compound semiconductor wafer manufacturing is expected to grow 20% to reach a historical high at US$7 billion in 2021, and is anticipated to grow further to US$8.5 billion in 2022.
World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) also has predicted that the global semiconductor market is projected to grow by 8.8 percent in 2022, to US$ 601 billion, driven by double-digit growth of the sensors and logic category. All regions and all product categories are expected to continue positive growth.
Several experts shared their opinions on the 2022 semiconductor market outlook recently to provide more details. DIGITIMES compiled some of them for your year-end reading:
Wafer foundry manufacturers sales likely to remain strong due to tight supply
Demands started chasing after chip supplies in the second half of 2020, and the gap between demands and supplies started to widen due to new orders from applications such as 5G communications and customized chips. Uncertainties such as the Omicron variation pandemic, geopolitical tension, and US-China technology competition are likely to put a damp on supply growth. Eric Chen, semiconductor analyst of DIGITIMES Research predicts that sales of global wafer foundry manufacturers are likely to grow 15% in 2022 and may top $110 billion in revenues.
5G smartphone silicon content increase to drive demand for foundry service higher
The penetration of 5G smartphones has reached 38% in 2020 and is expected to hit 48-50% by the year-end of 2021. Since 5G smartphones need more radio frequency front end modules (RFFEM) than 4G smartphones, and those supporting mmWave functions need to have 2-3 extra mmWave antenna modules, the increase of silicon content in smartphones will also push up demand for wafer foundry services, according to Chen.
Demand for digital transformation is here to stay, no sign of weakening for foundry service sales
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation over the past two years. Work from home, virtual conference, and remote learning have driven up the demand for cloud computing, laptops, and servers, and hence the sales growth of related semiconductor products. Demands for CPU, GPU, AI accelerator (including FPGA) foundry services will remain strong in 2022 because trends such as virtual conferences, live streaming, and large capex of data centers are likely to stay, said Chen.
EV, IoT, 5G infrastructure, HPC form robust long-term demand to support foundry
Long-term demands for customized chips in IoT, 5G infrastructure, HPC, and EV applications, like ADAS, autonomous driving, V2X, in-Vehicle Infotainment, will provide robust growth momentum for chip foundry services, said Chen.
IDMs outsourcing will continue to increase
IDMs will increase the percentage of their outsource capacities in 2022 and beyond, as processing nodes continue to upgrade. Currently, IDMs outsource 20% of their supplies to foundry service providers, according to Chen.
Chip crunch to last through 2022, but RISC-V market size will double
Chip crunch is not ending in 2022, as the lead time of some electronic components is stretching into 2023. Meanwhile, the increasing adoption of RISC-V open standard instruction set architecture is an important trend that can not be ignored. RISC-V market will double its size in 2022, compared to 2021, as it is attracting small and medium-size chip designers and manufacturers, especially those in China, to use the RISC-V open architecture to manufacture chips, according to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.
The first wave of students with RISC-V knowledge and training will graduate
Founded back in 2010, the adoption of RISC-V has steadily increased over the past decade and truly exploded in recent years. RISC-V designs are now being used by Qualcomm, Samsung, Google, Microchip, Nvidia, and more. Even companies like Apple started hiring RISC-V designers this year. Because of this rapid adoption, RISC-V is becoming a more regular part of a university curriculum. In 2022, we'll see the first wave of graduates with formal training on RISC-V processor design. This next generation of technologists will be the first to default to RISC-V designs, promoting faster innovation. Starting this year, the question will not be "Why RISC-V?" but rather, "Why not?", according to Jack Kang, SVP of Business Development, Customer Experience (CX), Corporate Marketing in SiFive.
The chip shortage will not impact production in 2-3 years
Future silicon development is entirely separate from the current shortage and supply chain challenges. Jack Kang, SVP of Business Development, Customer Experience (CX), Corporate Marketing in SiFive said the shortage may impact short-term production of the iPhone 13, for example, but I believe it will have the opposite impact on future generations. As frustrating as the current shortage is, the demand for chips itself is encouraging and has inspired many consumers to develop their own chip design teams. This will continue to drive demand, increase investment, and further propel this golden age of semiconductor design. We must continue to think about the shortage differently and recognize that now is the time to innovate more, not less.