11-16 #NatureCalls: Samsung may not launch new Galaxy Note series phones in 2021; There is a huge rush for TSMC’s 7nm and 5nm manufacturing processes; TCL CSOT t7 plant has entered mass production; etc.

SK Hynix is taking steps to reinforce its foundry business in China. SK Hynix System IC, a subsidiary of SK Hynix that specializes in the foundry business, has sold all of its semiconductor production equipment at its plant in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, to a joint venture in Wuxi, China. The company plans to move its 200mm wafer foundry line in Cheongju to China to produce mid- and low-end foundry products. In Korea, it will focus on high-value-added and high-tech products, including 300mm wafer image sensors. (Laoyaoba, Business Korea)

UNISOC has introduced its 5G RF front-end solution, a modular design that reduces channel loss by 15% over the industry average and reduces the size by 20%, enabling more design space for thin and slim smartphones. (Laoyaoba, CN Techpost, Sina)

There is a huge rush for TSMC’s 7nm and 5nm manufacturing processes. With Huawei out of the picture, it’s now Apple, Qualcomm, Nvidia, and MediaTek battling for space. These companies have increased their inventory which further loads TSMC 5nm and 7nm process capacity. As of now, it cannot take any order on these processes until 2H21. TSMC continues to increase its production capacity of its 5nm process. The monthly production capacity has accelerated from the previous 80,000 units to 100,000 units. Also, the mass production yield rate has jumped sharply relative to the 7nm process.  (GizChina, CN Beta, UDN)

Anticipation is growing that Samsung Electronics will produce Apple’s semiconductor chips for the first time in approximately 5 years. Apple is expected to break up with Intel and outsource production of PC and laptop chips to Samsung Electronics. Initially, Apple allocated all of its production of M1 chips to TSMC. However, Samsung Electronics also has a chance as TSMC is having difficulty meeting the entire order volume that Apple wants.  (CN Beta, Sam Mobile, Business Korea, Gizmo China)

AU Optronics (AUO) will apply smart manufacturing to ramp up its output to meet increasing demand for LCD panels for a wide range of applications, according to company chairman Paul Peng. He has pointed out that due to semiconductor capacity limitations, there is a relatively large gap in supply for  driver IC, touch, PMIC and other components. The supply of smartphone panels is relatively loose, mainly due to the poor global smartphone sales in 2020. Even though the demand for a-Si mobile phone panels is good, it accounts for only about 2~3% of AUO’s revenue.  (Laoyaoba, Digitimes, Digitimes, press, Digitimes)

Solas OLED, a leading Dublin, Ireland-based licensor of technology focused on the OLED market, has announced that it has prevailed in its patent infringement action in Germany against LG Display and Sony Europe. The technology at issue is used in screens in certain LG and Sony OLED televisions. (Laoyaoba, Sohu, PRNAsia, OLED-Info, PR Newswire)

TCL CSOT t7 plant has entered mass production. The TCL Huaxing t7 plant is a Gen-11 production line for 8K large-size display panels. It is designed to have a monthly production capacity of 90,000 units. The total investment of the project is CNY42.68B.  (Laoyaba, Display Specifications, OfWeek)

Foxconn is allegedly testing a foldable iPhone for Apple, and also that devices may ship starting in September 2022. The price starts at USD1,499, which is approximately CNY9900. (CN Beta, WCCFtech, iMore, Apple Insider, UDN)

China’s display industry will have level market share with South Korea in 2020, according to Omdia. China’s panel sales will reach USD42.5B in 2020 with a market share of 36.3%. South Korea, meanwhile, is expected to post sales of USD43.6B in 2020 for a market share of 37.3%. China will start its 14th 5-year plan in 2020 that will last until 2024. It is planning to develop core materials and equipment on its own to develop its own, localized supply chain. (Gizmo China, The Elec)

Revenues for microLED TVs will increase to USD228M by 2026, according to DSCC. Although consumers are very enthusiastic about microLED technology, the report finds that microLED will only have a small share of the TV market due to a high retail price. (CN Beta, 199IT, DSCC)

Samsung Display has improved its quantum dot nanorod LED (QNED) technology enough to start investing in production equipment in 2021, according to UBI Research. It found drastic improvements in technology in patents filed in 2H20 over those filed in 1H20. (Gizmo China, The Elec)

The former marketing president of OPPO, Brian Shen has indicated that camera under display (CuD) will most likely not be “mass-produced and sold” on flagship phones in 2021. It will take a lot of time for the technology to mature. (Sina, My Drivers, Laoyaoba)

Apple and other prominent technology and networking companies have joined an industry group that is working to advance cellular technology in North America to 6G and beyond. The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) has announced the addition of 11 Founding Members, including Apple, Charter, Google, VMWare, HP, and Cisco, among others. Laoyaoba, Apple Insider, Patently Apple)

Samsung is reportedly working on a feature dubbed Private Share. This is a blockchain-based secure file transfer app that allows senders to set an expiration date for the shared file. The shared files are deleted from the recipient’s phone after the expiration time/date. (Android Authority, Sam Mobile)

Samsung may not launch new Galaxy Note series phones in 2021. The company will apparently focus solely on foldable phones in 2H21. Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra and Galaxy Z Fold 3 are both rumored to have S Pen support. (CN Beta, Android Central)

According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung’s market share in South Korea reached a record 72.3% in 3Q20 (up from 67.9% in 2019), while Apple (8.9%) and LG (9.6%) both dropped below 10%. This is also the first time that Samsung’s smartphone market share in South Korea has exceeded the 70% mark. The Galaxy Note 20 series, Galaxy Z Flip 5G and Galaxy Z Fold 2 launched in 3Q20 helped Samsung reach its highest market share ever, with 3.4M units shipped. (CN Beta, Gizmo China)

Google has today it will “no longer support the Expeditions app.” Additionally, it will be removed from Google Play and the App Store after 30 Jun 2021. The Expeditions Pioneer Program launched in 2015 as a limited access experience for educators. A year later Google made the app available for all on Android, but continued to sell dedicated Expedition kits that included a tablet, phones, virtual reality viewers, and router. (CN Beta, The Verge, XDA-Developers, TechCrunch, 9to5Google)

Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) has announced that it has partnered with Huawei and Changan Automobile to create a new high-end smart car brand. The new brand aims at creating a world-class high-end self-controlled smart electric vehicle platform and launch a range of smart cars, along with a super “human car” as a part of smart life and smart energy ecology. (Gizmo China, Caixin, CN Beta)

Tesla Shanghai plant set an immediate target of producing 5,700 Model 3s per week in Nov 2020, which could be enough to help Tesla meet its annual production and delivery expectations of 500,000 electric vehicles. The Shanghai plant has updated its production target for November to 5,700 Model 3s per week, a slight increase from Oct 2020. In Oct, the plant set a goal of producing 800 vehicles per day (5,600 per week). (CN Beta, 163, UDN, Teslarati, CN Techpost)

It is clear now, but the primary factor dragging on IC market growth this year is the severe downturn in the global economy due to ramifications associated with the Covid-19 outbreak. According to IC Insights, each country / region is forecast to see a steep decline in its GDP growth rate in 2020.  The forecasted GDP growth rates range from -10.0% in the U.K. to China’s positive 2.4%.  Only China is expected to register positive GDP growth in 2020, although its growth rate is down significantly from 6.1% in 2019. China was able to contain Covid-19 in 2Q20 and the country’s economy has been on the mend since. Worldwide GDP is now forecast to decline 4.5% in 2020 compared to the 2.4% gain in 2019. (IC Insights, press, Laoyaoba)

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