The semiconductor industry is in a downturn

In 2021, the global semiconductor industry will prosper in an all-around way, the market demand will surge, and the capital boom will surge. Core shortage and the price increase will become keywords. Entering 2022, the market situation will take a turn for the worse, consumer demand will continue to decline, corporate inventories will increase significantly, and mid-to-low-end chips will see a price reduction trend. From short supply to oversupply, changes in the semiconductor market have caught people off guard. So, how to correctly view the supply and demand changes in the semiconductor market, and how to make the semiconductor industry bigger and stronger? At the recently held 2022 China Semiconductor Market Annual Conference, many experts offered advice and suggestions on the development of the semiconductor industry.

The hot and cold of the giants are uneven, and there is a structural shortage

The integrated circuit industry is an important pillar of economic development, a key force leading a new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation, a strategic choice for cultivating new growth drivers, and an important measure to deepen supply-side structural reform and promote high-quality economic development.

Liu Yuanchao, deputy secretary-general of the China Semiconductor Industry Association, said that China's integrated circuit industry has achieved high-quality development in recent years. In 2021, the industry scale will exceed one trillion yuan for the first time, reaching 1,045.83 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 18.2%, accounting for 29.3% of the global semiconductor industry revenue. , of which IC design, IC wafer industry, and IC packaging and testing sales revenue reached 451.9 billion yuan, 317.63 billion yuan, and 276.3 billion yuan, respectively. On the whole, my country has become the region with the fastest growth rate of the globally integrated circuit industry, the largest market demand, and the most active international trade. Throughout the world, the semiconductor market will also usher in rapid growth in 2021.

Looking back at the high growth in 2021, the main reason is that after the outbreak of the new crown epidemic, the normalization of the home office has led to a substantial increase in demand for computers, IoT, and other products. At the same time, the rapid development of the new energy vehicle market has led to a surge in market demand; and the epidemic has affected the global supply chain. In the normal operation of the market, there was a mismatch between supply and demand, which further increased the tension in the market. For a while, customers followed suit and hoarded goods, resulting in false prosperity in the market and a chip shortage in the world.

When the core shortage signal was transmitted upstream, the global semiconductor industry increased production capacity investment, causing the inventory to grow rapidly. Wang Fang, deputy director of Zhongtai Securities Research Institute and chief analyst of the electronics industry, said that with the increase in investment, global semiconductor inventory turnover has risen for six consecutive quarters, reaching a high level in the past 10 years, and many low-end chips have seen price cuts According to the trend, the inventory of semiconductor listed companies has increased by about 60%, and there has been a situation of increasing income but not increasing profits. Of course, in fields such as automotive electronics and industrial control applications, continue to grow rapidly due to strong market demand.

As we all know, the third quarter of each year is the golden period of the chip industry, but this year is not a busy season, and corporate revenue and profit declines abound. The financial reports released by industry giants are also uneven: Samsung and Intel have experienced a corresponding decline in performance due to the decline in demand for PCs and mobile phones; Qualcomm and Infineon have offset the decline in other fields due to their diversified layout in the automotive and industrial control fields. increase. Overall, the semiconductor industry presents a structural shortage of uneven hot and cold.

Due to the shortage of upstream wafer production capacity, many companies have signed long-term agreements with higher wafer foundry prices in 2021 and the first half of 2022, further aggravating financial pressure.

Entering the 12th cycle, the long-term is still optimistic

Through the appearance of a roller coaster change from a shortage of cores to a surplus, how to correctly view the development status and future potential of the chip industry? In this regard, the participating experts believe that it is necessary to analyze the problem from a longer perspective.

Wang Fang said that the global semiconductor industry has an obvious cycle. From 1978 to the present, it has experienced 12 cycles, each cycle lasts 3 to 5 years, and the latest cycle lasts from 2019 to the present. Just because fluctuations are the norm in the market, and the semiconductor industry is a basic, strategic, and leading industry. In the future, the demand for 5G, intelligent networked vehicles, next-generation artificial intelligence, and ultra-high-definition video will continue to explode. The future prospects of the industry are unanimously optimistic, and they believe that the future industrial market demand will continue to grow.

Li Ke, vice president of CCID Consulting Co., Ltd., cited a set of data and believes that the 12th round is not the worst round in history: According to the forecast of authoritative organizations, as of November, the global semiconductor market has grown by 7.6% . In 2010, the growth rate of the global semiconductor market was 31%, and by 2011, it dropped sharply to 0.7%, which was much larger than this time.

To know why, Liu Dan, executive partner of Guangdong-Macao Semiconductor Industry Fund, analyzed the nature of cyclical changes in semiconductors. She said that the semiconductor industry cycle is formed by the superposition of two cycles: one is the silicon cycle, which requires a natural cycle for the formation and release of production capacity; the other is the macroeconomic cycle. The correlation coefficient between growths was 0.85, reaching 0.96 if the memory was excluded. Therefore, to judge whether the semiconductor industry can get out of the down cycle, it is necessary to pay close attention to the progress in three aspects: first, when the terminal demand and the economic situation will pick up; Although the International Monetary Fund and the World Enterprise Confederation both predict that the global economic growth rate in 2023 will be slower than that in 2022, in the long run, economic growth is the general trend, and the fundamentals supporting the development of semiconductors have not changed.

Looking forward to the future, Liu Dan believes that it is very important to continue to increase R&D investment. In the past, semiconductor industry companies continued to increase R&D investment, especially listed companies maintained high R&D investment, which injected impetus into industrial development. In the technology-intensive industry of semiconductors, R&D investment is the only magic weapon to determine competitiveness. For example, in the past 10 years, the United States has accounted for about half of the world's R&D expenditure on semiconductors, ensuring its leading position in the global semiconductor market.

Li Ke believes that with the advent of the post-Moore era, industrial cooperation is essential, and it is an inevitable trend for companies to shift from lone rangers to bands of brothers. Moore's Law has promoted the development of the information industry and has also created a winner takes all' situation. In the fields of CPU, GPU, memory, and wafer foundry, there are only a few companies in the world that are particularly leading. Now entering the post-Moore era, what the industry pursues is not fast but long distance, which requires 'people travel far'.

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