03-15: Samsung is reportedly investing a total of KRW8.5T in 10nm and 7nm production lines; Samsung Display are reportedly currently working on the final step of development of foldable smartphone; etc.

Chipsets

Samsung’s 10nm production of Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 is still in ramping up stage. This is reportedly causing delay of Xiaomi Mi 6. It is rumored the first batch of the processor has been fully locked by Samsung, making Qualcomm to announce the sales of the processor will begin after Apr 2017. This is also causing delay of other Chinese flagships such as nubia Z12, OnePlus 4, etc. (Laoyaoba, Sina, WCCFTech)

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Synopsys and United Microelectronics (UMC) have worked together to enable Synopsys Custom Compiler and Laker custom design tools to be used with UMC’s 14nm FinFET process. The enablement collaboration included creating and validating a UMC 14nm industry-standard iPDK. (TechNews, Yahoo, Digitimes, press)

Samsung will adopt the GAA FET structure to develop its 7nm and 5nm process nodes, said Ho-Kyu Kang, VP of Technology at Samsung. Samsung’s 7nm process will target high-end chip applications such as GPU, AI, servers and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). As for 5nm, the company plans to move the newer node to volume production in 2020, Kang unveiled. Eyeing the huge market potential, Samsung has launched its FD-SOI process technology to provide a low-cost alternative to FinFET, and introduced a 28nm FD-SOI node designed specifically for IoT devices. (Laoyaoba, Digitimes, press)

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Samsung is reportedly investing a total of KRW8.5T (USD6.98B) in 10nm and 7nm production lines. (Android Authority, ET News, HC360)

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Worldwide sales of semiconductor manufacturing equipment totaled USD41.24B in 2016, up 13% from USD36.53B in 2015, according to SEMI. Total equipment bookings were 24% higher than in 2015. (Digitimes, press, SEMI, Electroiq)

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Qualcomm has continued to expand the market share of its 10nm Snapdragon 835 SoCs at the expense of MediaTek as MediaTek will be unable to achieve volume shipments of its comparable Helio X30 chips until the 2Q17. Snapdragon 835 solutions will  reportedly dominate the high-end smartphone AP market in 2017. (Laoyaoba, Digitimes, press)

Touch Display

Samsung Electronics and Samsung Display are reportedly currently working on the final step of development of foldable smartphone in order to produce prototype in 3Q17. (Android Headlines, CN Beta, Android Authority, ET News)

As AMOLED panels should be matched with Out-Cell (add-on) touch solution, 3D Touch modules for use in the new iPhone equipped with AMOLED panels involves a more complicated manufacturing process and adoption of thin film-based touch sensors. Prices for 3D Touch modules will rise from USD9 per module for models used in existing iPhone series to above USD15 for the one specifically for use in new iPhone equipped with AMOLED panels. TPK and General Interface Solution (GIS) are the two main suppliers of 3D Touch modules used in iPhone series, with touch sensors supplied by Japan-based Nissha Printing. (Digitimes, press, CN Beta, Laoyaoba)

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Taiwan Display Inc (TDI) chairman Jeff Hsu indicates that as AMOLED production is limited, causing a lot of mid-to-high smartphones adopting LTPS panels in 2017. According to TrendForce, in 2017 traditional a-Si panel shipment share will drop to 37.4% globally, while AMOLED and LTPS panel will increase to 27.7% and 31.5%, respectively. (China Times, Laoyaoba, Digitimes, press)

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Alibaba led an USD18M funding round into WayRay, an augmented reality car navigation startup. WayRay, based in Switzerland, builds heads-up displays (HUD) for drivers, as well as fully augmented reality and virtual reality immersive systems intended for eventual use in self-driving cars. (CN Beta, VentureBeat, ZDNet)

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AU Optronics (AUO) production capacity is relatively low at its AFPD Gen-4.5 LTPS fab in Singapore, but now AUO’s yields have been reportedly improving. AUO has managed to lower the prices of its AMOLED displays, and has now resumed production and sale of smartphone sized OLEDs, especially its 4.97” 720p on-cell touch AMOLED. (OLED-Info)

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In Jan 2017 Kopin unveiled its first OLED microdisplay, the 1” 120 Hz 2k×2k Lightning panel. Kopin has revealed that it is developing a VR headset in collaboration with Goertek – a mobile VR headset that uses the Lightning OLED microdisplay. (OLED-Info, CIT News)

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Memory

SD Association announces UHS-III (up to 624 MB/s), A2 Class, LV Signaling. (AnandTech, article, My Drivers, SD Association)

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Material

The small metal germanium (GE) prices has been increasing, and in 7 days the increase rate reaching 6%. With the recent shortage in the semiconductor industry, the production will be increased, and the demand for GE will be gradually increased too. According to US geological survey, in the global usage of GE, 30% is for fiber optic cable, 20% is for IR optical cable, 20% is for polymerization catalysts. (Laoyaoba, Sina, HC360, Whatech)

MIT has designed one of the strongest and lightweight materials in the world, by compressing and fusing flakes of graphene. This new material, a sponge-like configuration with a density of just 5%, yields the strength 10 times that of steel.  (CN Beta, Design Boom, AZOM)

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Apple’s next-generation iPhone is expected to adopt a stainless steel forging process for its new chassis frame instead of traditional CNC machining. Component orders are expected to be shared between Foxconn Electronics and US-based Jabil. Pegatron’s Casetek is also very agressively to enter the iPhone supply chain. (Laoyaoba, Digitimes, Digitimes, Mac World)

Apple is reportedly working with its Chinese supplier Biel Crystal on producing the glass back of the phone. They reportedly supply thermoformed glass chassis samples to Apple that may go into an eventual OLED iPhone 8 that will have a full display (sans home buttons and other elements), while the glass rear will be sandwiched against it over a metal frame. (Phone Arena, Bit Feed, ET News, Tencent)

Smartphones

Xiaomi has announced that it sold 1M  Redmi Note 4 smartphones in India in the 45 days since it launched on 23 Jan 2017. In Jan 2017, the company announced that its revenue in 2016 exceeded USD1B in the country.  (Android Authority, NDTV, My Drivers, Xiaomi)

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BBK has 3 big projects in Changan, Dongguan – OPPO R&D headquarter, vivo production center, Okii production center. All 3 projects amount to CNY4.75B investment. (Laoyaoba, SouthCN, Dongguan)

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According to Sino, in 2016 ODM has shipped 520M units of smartphone, which is about 40% of global smartphone shipment.  This number will break 560M in units in 2017. Wingtech is the number 1 ODM with 65.5M units shipped, follows by Huaqin (57.9M), Longcheer (32M units), Wind (25M) and Tinno (20.2M). (Laoyaoba, Elecfans, Moqie, HQEW, Sino, report)

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China mobile phone repair rate is about 15%~20%, and considering in 2016 the shipment of 560M units, there would be near 100M units are being repaired. According to CCTV, up until 2016, the complaints in regards of mobile phone is at the top for 7 years continuously. Now mobile phone repair has become a gray area supply chain. (Laoyaoba, Tencent, article, iResearch)

Morgan Stanley’s tech analyst, Katy Huberty sees Apple selling 20% more iPhone units in 2017 YoY, and the revenue will increase 30% YoY. (Phone Arena, Indilens, Seeking Alpha, CNBC, Hexun)

LeEco founder Jia Yueting has obtained CNY16.8B funding, yet it is not really that sufficient to handle the current situation: only 1 TV panel supplier left, the debt at the mobile phone supply chain is not cleared yet, and sport business is loosing a number of exclusivity. (Laoyaoba, CNFOL, 163)

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According to a recent survey that was carried out by the Global network of global public opinion survey centre, it seems that Huawei has been named as the favorite brand in the country with 51.3%. SF was second with 33.99% and Gree came third with 37,3%.  Haier and Midea complete the top 5 with 37.1% and 28.4% respectively.  (GizChina, My Drivers, Huanqiu)

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Loup Ventures has surveyed 502 people in the U.S. about their interest in buying Apple iPhone 8, which Loup referred to as the iPhone X. Among the 234 iPhone owners in the survey group, 23% intend to upgrade to iPhone 8. (CN Beta, US News, Investors, Loup Ventures, blog)

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Apple did indeed engage in price fixing by ordering 16 Russian retailers to lock in specific prices for iPhones, the country’s Federal Antimonopoly Service ruled. (Apple Insider, Financial Times, Sina, 21CN)

Wearables

TAG Heuer unveiled the first “Swiss-made connected watch” dubbed the TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45. The “Connected Module” is the actual smartwatch, can be swapped out for a classic Swiss-made mechanical movement – Calibre 5 or Heuer 02T Tourbillon. In total there are 56 different combos. It is priced at USD1650. (GSM Arena, Tag Heuer, 163)

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Internet of Things

Xiaomi has launched another crowdfunded product, a smart fitness device, which comes with 7 different types of sensors which detect and record fitness data. The multipurpose fitness equipment was developed by Eggplant technology. The product then entered trial production in Jan 2017 and now it is set for mass production. (My Drivers, Gizmo China)

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