Japan-based Fuso Chemical, the global leader in semiconductor CMP slurries with a 90% market share, is set to invest JPY 50 billion (US$350 million) in a significant production expansion. Despite the financial implications, the move aims to boost colloidal silica production, a key raw material for CMP slurry, by 50% from March 2023 to July 2025.
Although the limelight of global media was cast on SMIC for its 7nm chips used in Huawei's Mate 60 Pro smartphone, Shanghai Huali Microelectronics Corp (HLMC), the other China foundry maker that has the capability of manufacturing advanced chips under 10nm, kept a low profile and remained quiet from public attention.
As NAND flash and high-bandwidth memory (HBM) stacking technologies continue to advance, coupled with the prospective development of 3D DRAM, the semiconductor industry is abuzz with the rising prominence of hybrid bonding technology. Both major South Korean memory manufacturers, Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, regard hybrid bonding as a pivotal technology for elevating memory capabilities but differ in their development strategies.
In recent years, Samsung Electronics has adopted custom-designed application processors (APs) from Qualcomm for its flagship smartphones, eliminating performance controversies associated with Samsung's own APs. However, this has led to a significant increase in AP procurement costs. During the first three quarters of 2023 alone, Samsung's AP procurement costs reached a staggering US$7 billion.
To expand its influence in Apple's iPhone supply chain, Chinese panel supplier BOE has continued to invest in panel R&D. However, after failing to supply the first wave of iPhone 15 panels in 2023, it's reportedly still unable to effectively address the yield rate issues. Therefore, the likelihood of a supply expansion is low.
As battery cell prices slide following declining demand in the automotive and energy storage markets, some players have already dropped out of the increasingly heated competition in China. For 2024, industry watchers predict another wave of battery companies going bust in the first half of the year, while those that remain will increasingly have their sights aimed abroad as governments increase investments in the area.
China has seen plenty of EV companies emerge and the competition between car parts suppliers grows intense. Supply chain sources said if a component maker cannot offer indispensable products, it will have difficulty surviving in the Chinese market.
After a meeting between Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, it was stated that Japan hopes Nvidia will supply as many GPUs as possible to Japanese companies for AI development. Nvidia also plans to collaborate with Japanese companies such as SoftBank to accelerate the development of generative AI in Japan.
Due to the chip shortage brought by export restrictions imposed by the US, China-based tech firms turned their eyes to computing rental service providers, leading to doubling fees charged by rental suppliers.
AI chip company Nvidia was called out by the US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California during the weekend, warning that any effort to supply advanced chips to China will be in vain.
China has imposed stricter export controls on graphite, a critical EV battery material, since December 1. Many Japan-based companies relying on China's raw materials have been diversifying their supply chains and purchasing from other countries to reduce risks.
The US government released guidance on EV batteries and materials sourcing, mainly targeting China. Starting in 2024 and 2025, EVs will not be eligible for tax credits provided by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) if they contain battery components and materials from a foreign entity of concern (FEOC).