These are the most-read DIGITIMES Asia stories in the week of January 29- February 2:
Semiconductor revenue rankings in 2023: Intel reclaims top spot, AI wave lifts Nvidia to third, and Samsung drops on memory slump
In 2023, the global semiconductor industry saw its aggregate revenue fall 8.8% from 2022 to US$521.3 billion. Despite Intel reclaiming the top spot in annual revenue, it still recorded a 16% decline to US$50.5 billion due to double-digit decreases in PC and server shipments. In contrast, Nvidia, capitalizing on the burgeoning demand for Artificial Intelligence (AI) computing, saw its revenue ranking jump from 10th to third in 2023, marking its first entry into the top five.
Malaysia sees new semiconductor cluster forming as first IC substrate plant commissioned
The global semiconductor industry has invested in Malaysia for over 50 years. With IC substrate maker Austria Technologie & Sytemtechnik (AT&S) starting production at its plant in Kulim, Malaysia, it has secured most of the value chain. The country takes advantage of the "plus one" strategy many global companies have adopted, hoping to become a high-end manufacturing hub. On January 24, AT&S held an opening ceremony for its first Southeast Asian facility, which will mainly supply AMD.
TSMC boosted by Intel, AMD, and Nvidia on the AI PC wave
After more than a year of downturn, the PC market finally showed signs of gradual recovery in 2024. Companies including Intel, AMD, and Nvidia successively launched new platforms. The companies also released roadmaps to the supply chain for the next two years, focusing extensively on AI applications, with significant upgrades to platform specifications each year. Of note, the full force of AI PCs from the three major manufacturers signifies TSMC's emergence as the biggest beneficiary.
The AI superpowers have a drinking problem
The amount of water Google used in 2022 to power its massive data centers was equivalent to the irrigation requirements of 37 golf courses annually in the Southwestern US, per the company's 2023 Environmental Sustainability report. In the context of the continued slowdown of Moore's Law, building more powerful artificial intelligence (AI) or high-performance computing (HPC) clusters implies the need for more hardware to create larger systems.
OSAT ASEH to boost advanced packaging capability
ASE Technology Holding (ASEH) will be stepping up its advanced packaging and testing capabilities in the second half of 2024, when a new cycle begins after the completion of inventory adjustments, according to the Taiwan-based OSAT. Providing an outlook for 2024 at an investors conference held on February 1, ASEH noted that inventory has been easing gradually for the packaging and testing sector. AI and co-packaged optics (CPO) are expected to drive demand for advanced backend services in 2024.
Chinese government-backed SiC cubs threaten Alpha Wolfspeed's market dominance
In 2023, third-generation silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductor powerhouse Wolfspeed saw one-third of its market share go up in smoke. Wolfspeed suffered a sharp drop in stock prices in the latter half of 2023. Prices were 60% lower than the high point in the first half. As things went south for Wolfspeed, 2023 saw the rise of Chinese SiC crystal growth companies such as SICC, TankeBlue, and Sanan Optoelectronics. These newer players signed contracts with Bosch, Infineon, and STMicroelectronics.
SK Hynix and Nvidia are said in HBM supply talks for 2025
Nvidia and SK Hynix are reportedly discussing the supply of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) for the first quarter of 2025. Having been the sole supplier of HBM in 2023, SK Hynix's supplies of 2024 are also getting snapped up despite its doubled output in 2024. South Korean media Dealsite cited semiconductor industry insiders saying that Nvidia and SK Hynix are negotiating HBM supplies in 2025, and HBM3e, which will start mass production in the first half of 2024, will be the main product for the first quarter of 2025.