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TrendForce lists five tech industry trends for 2023

TrendForce is detailing 10 major trends that are expected to take place across various segments in the tech industry.

1. Advanced foundry processes reach transistor structure transition period, mature processes focus on diversified specialised development

Pure foundry processes transitioned from Planar Transistor to the FinFET generation starting from the 16nm node. After the development of the 7nm process and the introduction of EUV lithography technology, FinFET structure encountered physical limits at the 3nm node. Since then, the two leaders in advanced manufacturing processes have diverged. TSMC continues utilizing FinFET structure in mass-produced 3nm products in 2H22, which will be officially released in 1H23, with the scale of mass production increasing quarter by quarter. In 2023, TSMC 3nm products will include PC CPU and smartphone SoC.  Samsung began introducing the GAAFET-based MBCFET architecture (Multi-Bridge Channel Field-Effect Transistor) at 3nm and this process will begin mass-production in 2022. Its first-generation product is a cryptocurrency mining chip. In 2023, Samsung will focus on second generation 3nm processes, with a goal of mass-producing smartphone SoCs. Both companies remain focused on high-performance computing and smart phone platforms in the initial stage of 3nm mass production as these products have higher requirements for improving performance, lowering power consumption, and reducing chip area.

For mature processes above 28nm, foundries are focused on diversifying development of special processes and have develop technology platforms including HV (High Voltage), Analog, Mix-signal, eNVM, BCD, and RF from logic processes. These are used to professionally produce peripheral ICs such as power management ICs, driver ICs, microcontrollers (MCU), and RF (Radio Frequency) required in the fields of smart phones, consumer electronics, high-performance computing, automotive, and industrial computing. As 5G communication, high-performance computing, new energy vehicles, and automotive electronics usher in a trend of increased special semiconductor component consumption, it is imperative for these applications to rely on support from diverse specialized processes to achieve the special purposes required in various fields.

2. Development trends focus on automotive IC design, third generation semiconductors on the rise

The global automotive industry is trending towards C-A-S-E, driving strong demand for automotive semiconductors. Automotive semiconductors are essentially divided into two categories: IDM and Fabless. As traditional automotive chip suppliers, IDMs offers a fairly complete selection of various ECUs and have gradually evolved from a traditional distributed architecture to Domain Control Unit (DCU) and Zone Control Unit (ZCU) architectures. Fabless, on the other hand, continues to focus on the field of high-performance computing for vehicles and develops in-vehicle telematics systems and SoCs for self-driving computing. Due to the complexity of automotive functions, the 32-Bit MCU type ECU has become the mainstream specification in the market. In 2023, its penetration rate will exceed 60% with a market value reaching USD 7.4 billion and it will develop towards processes below 28nm (inclusive). In addition, self-driving cars require high-performance computing AI SoCs and continue to develop towards advanced processes below 5nm (inclusive) with computing power reaching 1,000 TOPS and, along with MCUs, these products will accelerate the upgrade of the global automotive industry.

With the rapid rise of 800V automotive electric drive systems, high-voltage DC charging piles, and high-efficiency green data centers, SiC and GaN power components have entered a stage of rapid development. TrendForce predicts that from 2022 to 2026, the compound annual growth rate of the SiC and GaN power device market will reach 35% and 61%, respectively. As demand for rapid charging and better dynamic performance in electric vehicles becomes more pressing, additional car companies are expected to introduce SiC technology into main inverters ahead of 2023, among which highly reliable, high-performance, and low-cost SiC MOSFET is a competitive focal point. GaN has entered a red ocean market for low-power consumer electronics applications and Samsung launched its first 45W GaN fast charger in 2022, again boosting market enthusiasm. As technology and supply chains continue to mature and costs fall, GaN power components are expanding to medium and high-power energy storage, data centers, household micro-inverters, communication base stations, and automobiles. Against the backdrop of the EU’s draconian energy efficiency requirements and China's East-West data center plan, data center power supply and server manufacturers have clearly grasped the importance of GaN technology. GaN power components are expected to be released on a large scale in 2023.

3. New DRAM generation takes shape, development of 200+ layer NAND flash accelerates

In terms of DRAM, accompanying the pandemic-accelerated digital transformation of corporations, not only did server shipments focus more on data centers, but also allowed new types of memory modules to coalesce, especially CXL specification-based modules. As the number of RDIMM slots in a server system is limited, the use of CXL enables the entire device to avoid this limitation when performing high-speed computing while increasing the amount of DRAM that can be used by the system. In 2023, not only will server CPUs such as Intel Sapphire Rapids and AMD Genoa support CXL 1.0, but DRAM modules will also employ DDR5. Furthermore, in order to run AI and ML (Machine Learning) operations effectively, certain server GPUs will introduce a new generation of HBM3 specifications. Therefore, amid planning by memory manufacturers and numerous xPU providers, a new generation of memory has gradually organised and is expected to gain market share in 2023.

In terms of NAND Flash, the number of stacked layers will accelerate in 2023 and four suppliers are expected to move towards 200+ layer technology. Some manufacturers will even mass-produce PLC (Penta Level Cell), hoping for an opportunity to replace HDD applications on servers in the future as unit growth is further optimized. In terms of SSD transfer interfaces, with the mass production of Intel Sapphire Rapids and AMD Genoa in 2023, enterprise SSDs will be further upgraded to support PCIe 5.0 transfer, increasing transfer rate manifold to 32GT/s to be utilized for high-speed computing needs such as AI/ML and also contributing to the rapid increase in the average capacity of enterprise SSDs.

4. Automotive MLCC development accelerating due to rising assisted driving penetration rate

At present, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are gradually becoming a standard feature on new cars. L1/L2 is the primary configuration level in the market at this stage, utilising approximately1,800~2,200 automotive MLCCs. As semiconductor IDM developed ADAS-specific MCUs, Sensor ICs, etc. become increasingly mature, L3-level ADAS systems will become a central upgrade sought by many luxury manufacturers for their high-end car models starting from 2023, leading MLCC consumption to jump to 3000~3500 units. Among MLCCs, the 0402 size just meets the limited space of a vehicle side monitoring module and has become the main application size specification.

The electric vehicle power core has become one of the main research and development priorities of various car manufacturers in response to consumers' demand for improved battery life, as well as to optimize charging and discharging efficiency and power recovery systems. The inverter, battery management system, and DC power converter are three sub-system making up the soul of the vehicle, utilising approximately 2,000~2,500 high-capacity (above 10u) and high-temperature (X7S/R) automotive MLCCs. Japanese manufacturer Murata officially mass-produced new high capacitance and high voltage 1206 size automotive products that can reach 22u 16V in early 2022. Companies including TDK, Taiyo Yuden, Samsung, and Yageo are also actively rushing to market.

5. Carbon neutrality accelerates EV transition, battery battle rages as reduced subsidies resurface cost issues

The cost of a variety of raw materials required for automotive manufacturing has risen after the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war. In particular, battery-related material costs have increased dramatically and were quickly passed through to automobile list prices. Coupled with the two-year-long shortage of automotive semiconductors, strengthening the toughness, elasticity, and stability of the supply chain has become a top priority for car manufacturers. Automakers hope to shorten the battery supply chain to avoid supply chain dissociations. Countries are actively promoting the localisation of battery supply chains due to political considerations. On the one hand, they propose preferential investment conditions and, at the same time, they also require localisation of a proportion of vehicle components, as a form of carrot and stick in attracting battery plants to invest worldwide. As a number of countries begin to reduce or cancel car purchase subsidies for electric vehicles, the cost issue has resurfaced. As it is necessary to produce cost-competitive models while taking into account safety and performance, battery development is inevitable and is expected to develop towards unity, diversification, and integration. Unification of battery assembly strengthens battery production management and improves commonality. Using different types of batteries according to vehicle grades diversifies supply risk and reduces cost. Integrating designs through cell-to-pack (CTP), cell-to-chassis (CTC) and other highly consolidated methods improve the modularity of battery and chassis.

On the other hand, driven by the global goal of net zero carbon emissions, demand for power batteries as the heart of electric vehicles has grown rapidly, inciting relevant companies to accelerate capacity expansion. In 2023, global power battery production capacity will exceed the TWh (Terawatt-hour, one million megawatt-hours) threshold and the output value will be close to USD 120 billion. At present, the rapid expansion of the power battery industry chain is constrained by the expansion cycle of vanguard mineral resources such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel, resulting in the rising cost of power battery manufacturing in recent years. With its cost-effective advantage, the global market share held by lithium iron phosphate batteries is expected to exceed that of ternary batteries in 2023.

For more information visit TrendForce

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June 13 2024 1:49 pm V22.4.55-2