Intel has announced two new Tiger Lake-U Refresh processors at Computex 2021, but tight supply of the latest CPUs is undermining notebook vendors' plans of launching devices using the new offersings from the US chip giant. In China, LCD panel maker BOE Technology reportedly has plans to build its third 10.5G line, which could send the global market in the direction towards oversupply. In the semiconductor sector, Taiwan-based IC distributors are set to see significant sales in 2021, particularly those with a significant presence in the memory segment.
Unstable shipments of Intel's recently introduced Tiger Lake-U Refresh processors, coupled with the ongoing shortages of certain ICs, will put pressure on the supply chain in releasing notebooks with the new processors in the third quarter of 2021, according to industry sources.
Notebook ODMs still see robust orders from clients, but productions have been seriously hampered by component shortages, with notebook shipment results vary from maker to maker in May. In the memory market, NOR flash prices are expected to surge in third-quarter 2021, stimulated by smartphone spec upgrades. According to Digitimes Research, global smartphone shipments are set to grow in 2021.
The PC sector has endured months of shortage of components, and the recent surges in COVID infections in Taiwan and Malaysia are threatening to worsen the component shortfall. Demand for notebooks is expected to remain robust through the end of 2021, and Taiwanese notebook and graphics card makers have reported strong sales for May. And foundry service supply is expected to remain extremely tight throughout 2021, with some clients having already booked capacity for next year and even 2023.
Taiwan's tech firms have intensified coronavirus-prevention measures after COVID-19 hit some local semiconductors plants, with KYEC bearing the brunt of the impacts, raising concerns about the stability of IC supply that has already been troubled by capacity shortage for months. In the IT market, despite speculation that demand for notebooks may weaken in second-half 2021 as a result of easing of the pandemic, ODMs are still confident about notebook orders throughout the year. In India, Lava International reportedly is preparing for IPO, as it seeks to reclaim lost ground in the local handset market.
Most Taiwan-based supply chain makers included in Apple's miniLED-backlit iPad Pro products have reported robust revenue growths for May thanks to shipment pull-ins from Apple, according to industry sources.
Taiwan's ICT supply chain, especially semiconductor backend houses have seen rising COVID-19 infections among their workers. Around 180 employees of KYEC had been diagnosed for being infected with the coronavirus as of June 5. However, MediaTek is still optimistic about its sales for the second quarter, despite KYEC, a major backend services partner of the chip supplier, had closure of production lines for two days. MediaTek is working closely with KYEC to mitigate the impact. On the other hand, demand for miniLED backlighting boards has been picking up as miniLED-based gaming and creator notebooks have seen rising sales.
Taiwan's PCB makers are accelerating their deployments in the miniLED backlighting boards as more non-Apple notebook vendors continue to roll out new miniLED-backlit gaming and creator notebook models, according to industry sources.
While Southeast Asia is the most popular investment destination for electronics manufacturers seeking to diversify production, Vietnam seems to be the biggest beneficiary of the so-called "China+1" strategy - running production in China and other places at the same time.
Components shortage has been troubling the PC sector for months. PC brand vendors, seeking to secure components supply, have moved to directly place orders with IC design houses, skipping their ODMs. Apple is expected to unveil two miniLED-backlit MacBook Pro devices later this year. As its present supplier of miniLED backlighting applications is unlikely to be able to fully support the production for the new devices, Apple reportedly has enlisted Osram Opto as a second supplier. Qualcomm is gearing up its deployment in the notebook processor market. Its 5G PC processors are targeting the high-end commercial segment and the lower-end consumer/education segment.
Qualcomm is stepping up its deployments in 5G PC processors seeking to tap demand from the segments of both high-end commercial notebooks and lower-end education and consumer notebooks, and many brand vendors including Samsung and Acer have rolled out new models adopting its 5G processors.
With AMD and Nvidia debuting their new gaming GPUs, the DIY PC market particularly the high-end segment is poised to grow in the second half of the year when the latest flagship graphics cards hit market shelves. In the handset market, Apple is keen on pushing 5G mmWave technology. Over 50% of the shipments for the next-generation iPhones to be launched later this year will come with mmWave support. And TSMC has unveiled its tech development in an online symposium.
PCB makers continue to see strong order momentum for notebook applications in the second half of the year, and are poised to make rolling updates to their quotes as prices of upstream materials are very likely to trend upward amid lingering shortages, according to industry sources.