Weekly news roundup: China no longer the sole manufacturing hub for smartphones and other top stories

Judy Lin, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: AFP

These are the most-read DIGITIMES Asia stories from December 18-22:

China's glory as the sole smartphone manufacturing hub is no more

The migration of smartphone supply chains is making a dent in China's production outputs, according to Chinese media Yicai. The number of smartphones manufactured in China decreased by 521 million units in 7 years, as supply chains have relocated to India and Southeast Asia due to the US-China trade war. Gao Shiwang, spokesman of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products, was quoted by Yicai as saying that the global share of smartphones made in China has dropped under 60% so far and is likely to continue sliding to 50% in the next few years as supply chains migrate to India and Vietnam.

India emerges as a global hub for RISC-V design, says Sequoia-backed fabless startup

India is one of the fastest-growing countries in the technology segment. The recent push to encourage the semiconductor industry adds impetus to this, with OSAT businesses being set up. Taking this one step further, G S Madhusudan, CEO of the Chennai-based startup InCore Semiconductors, pointed out that India is poised to be the epicenter for RISC-V chip design. This is significant as some companies such as Meta expressed their interest in RISC-V, hinting at moving away from x86 architecture.

SMIC soon to operate new 12-inch fab in Shanghai

Chinese pure-play foundry Semiconductor Manufacturing International (SMIC) is expected to open its largest-ever 12-inch (300mm) wafer manufacturing base in Lingang, Shanghai as early as the first quarter of 2024, according to industry sources. The SMIC fab will account for almost one-sixth of all IC manufacturing capacity in the Lingang area and is a driver in turning the Lingang area into the biggest semiconductor foundry hub in China, the sources said.

China struggles to acquire advanced HBMs amid surging demand despite softening US curbs

Even though the White House seems to have softened its stance on chip export curbs against China, China still struggles to acquire the most advanced HBMs amid surging demand. The US Commerce Department has recently shown signs of softening its stance on allowing Nvidia to ship chips tailored for China. HBM is not subject to US restrictions, indicating a loosening of US restrictions. However, due to the shortage of HBM, China-based server providers may have to switch to GDDR or older versions of HBM to accompany Nvidia's China-focused AI chips.

Qualcomm likely to control 80% of GenAI smartphone chip market

A recent report by Counterpoint Research predicts that Qualcomm will acquire more than 80% of the generative AI (GenAI) smartphone chip market over the next two years, while MediaTek will catch up with its Dimensity 9300 chips. According to Counterpoint, the forthcoming year will be critical for GenAI smartphones, as initial data indicates that their shipments will surpass 100 million units in 2024.

Huawei's Nova 12 rumored to include 7nm Kirin 9000S, demonstrating sufficient capacity

Huawei Executive Director Yu Chengdong recently announced on Weibo that the mid-range smartphone Huawei Nova 12 will be officially launched on December 26th. Although Yu did not disclose the processor specifications, he declared that the Nova 12 series would be part of Huawei's pioneer project, reminiscent of Huawei's approach before Mate 60 Pro's release in August. While Huawei did not officially confirm the adoption of 7-nanometer Kirin 9000S processors within Mate 60 Pro during the launch event, subsequent teardowns by various sources suggested that Huawei did succeed in having 7nm chips produced. Yu's announcement of the Nova 12 on Weibo echoes the high-profile nature of the Mate 60 launch.

Japanese semiconductor equipment and material giants facing emerging challenges

As Japan is trying to rebuild its leadership in the chipmaking industry, its semiconductor equipment and material industries enjoy advantages. Still, challenges remain as Japan sees declining market share in the equipment business and emerging suppliers from China, and materials suppliers cannot agree on whether to consolidate amid an intensifying global competition.