NewsCompany newsIndustry News



Semiconductor industry under epidemic: delay in production increase plan

Affected by the new coronavirus epidemic, the global semiconductor industry has been significantly impacted: not only affecting factory production, but also hindering transportation across the region due to the epidemic, causing many manufacturers' existing production increase and sales plans to be delayed. On the other hand, the epidemic-induced nervousness and reduced frequency of going out have led to a decline in consumer demand.

The semiconductor industry chain is long, and the upstream and downstream relationships are complicated. The upstream includes the supply side of equipment and materials, the midstream covers the design, manufacturing, and packaging and testing links, while the downstream uses the chip for automotive, consumer electronics, and other fields. In the current epidemic situation, the impact on different levels of the chip industry is different.

Due to the highly automated nature of the foundry, the overall impact of the epidemic on the supply side is small. According to announcements from major wafer fabs, if the domestic foundry leader SMIC operates normally during the Spring Festival, internal operations of the TSMC plant have not been interrupted. Hua Hong Semiconductor, Yangtze River Storage and other companies also stated that their production operations are normal and there are no shutdowns.

According to industry analysts, the current supply chain is most affected by packaging and testing links, which may become a bottleneck in the industry chain. The so-called semiconductor package test refers to the process of processing the wafers that pass the test to obtain independent chips according to the product model and functional requirements. Since every chip needs to be 100% tested to meet the use of the final electronic product, the importance is self-evident.

During the Chinese New Year holidays, the packaging and testing plant is usually closed and is in a shutdown state. After the epidemic broke out, many employees who should have returned to production could not return to work smoothly, and the resumption of work was complicated, which caused the packaging and testing plant to encounter capacity problems.

According to the industry media semiconductor industry observation report, the current domestic production capacity of packaging and testing plants is only about 50% under normal circumstances. Several packaging and testing plants have begun to experience shortages of operators. It is conservatively predicted that the impact of packaging and testing capacity brought by the epidemic may exceed one month. However, for today, the situation is still optimistic. The major packaging and testing companies, Changdian Technology and Tongfu Micro, have resumed work on time to reduce wafer inventory and protect the supply chain.

Wuhan is an important industry cluster city for the domestic semiconductor industry, and the production status of Wuhan semiconductor companies at the epidemic center has received widespread attention.

At present, the major semiconductor manufacturers in Wuhan include Yangtze River Storage, Wuhan Hongxin and Wuhan Xinxin. If the relevant epidemic situation expands, it may affect the subsequent production of enterprises.

According to market analysts' feedback, Yangtze River Storage is currently facing the challenge of ramping up production capacity. It is expected that the production capacity will reach 50,000 to 100,000 pieces per month by the end of 2020. The repatriation of employees from Hubei and the withdrawal of overseas Chinese from Wuhan in many countries may delay the company's capacity release. At present, the company is actively responding to the epidemic situation. According to the official announcement issued by Yangtze River Storage on January 30, the company will guarantee the continuity of production and minimize the impact on the premise of ensuring safety.

China Merchants Bank Research Institute believes that in view of the fact that Yangtze River Storage currently accounts for a small proportion of global memory capacity, its impact on the semiconductor industry is limited. If it is a fab with a complete production line, or some fabs that need to purchase equipment in the near future (such as Wuhan Hongxin), the impact will be relatively large, because related technical staff is difficult to go to the site to support, some key operations can not be completed.

Wuhan Xinxin's wafer fab has manufactured IC design company Zhaoyi's innovative NOR flash memory chip. Zhaoyi Innovation ranks third in the global market share of the NOR market, accounting for about 18%. The epidemic may affect Zhaoyi Innovation's production.

At present, chip design companies are least affected. Due to the asset-light nature of chip design companies and the ability to work remotely, the epidemic is expected to be limited. Of course, efficiency will be affected to some extent.

In 2019, due to the tension of the global trade environment, the industry's cyclical decline, and the imbalance between supply and demand of memory chips, the semiconductor industry is in a recession. According to data from the Global Semiconductor Association (SIA), the global semiconductor industry revenue in 2019 was 412.1 billion US dollars, a year-on-year decline of 12.1%, the largest decline since 2001.

The market had previously expected that the semiconductor industry would return to growth as 5G demand increased and the trade situation eased, but the epidemic will add variables to the growth of global semiconductor sales in 2020. According to data provided by StrategyAnalytics, due to a series of chain reactions caused by the new crown pneumonia epidemic, global smartphone shipments will be 2% lower than expected in 2020, and shipments in the Chinese market will be lower than expected by 5%, of which the Chinese smartphone market Shipments in the first quarter will fall by more than 30%.

Chip design companies such as Qualcomm and MediaTek have lowered their guidance for the first quarter of 2020. Since both companies are important suppliers of mobile phone chips, the downward revision of the guidelines undoubtedly means that the mobile phone market in the first quarter is not optimistic.

"Consumers are concerned that exposure to public places, exposure to viruses, and purchasing behavior may be more cautious. Many companies may turn to online sales, which will pose challenges to logistics networks." The report states. However, the market generally believes that the impact of the epidemic is only a delay in demand, and this year there is also demand support such as 5G and the Tokyo Olympics.