South Korea's memory exports plummeted, and MCU demand recovered in a small range

1. South Korea’s chip exports plunged 42.5% in February due to weak demand for memory


According to the fast technology report, South Korea’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Resources said on Wednesday that South Korea’s exports in February fell by 7.5% year-on-year to US$50.1 billion, the fifth consecutive month of decline, mainly due to weak global demand for semiconductors caused by the economic slowdown; South Korea’s main export products semiconductors Exports from China fell by 42.5%, recording a trade deficit of $5.3 billion for the month.


Previously, TrendForce data showed that the average price of DRAM used in mobile phones and personal computers plummeted by 34.4% in the fourth quarter of last year, the largest drop since 2008. Flash NAND sold to data centers and enterprise customers also fell 27.7% and 32%, respectively, the largest declines in both quarters since 2008. Almost all original memory and flash memory manufacturers are losing money. The annual output value of the storage industry reaches 160 billion U.S. dollars, and the loss in 2022 will be 5 billion U.S. dollars.


2. The demand in the MCU e-sports market has picked up, and end customers have placed orders one after another


According to the Science and Technology Board Daily citing Taiwan Electronics Times, MCU manufacturers pointed out that the demand for PC orders will decrease rapidly in 2022, and the shipments of terminal brand customers will not be as expected. The e-sports market is relatively good news. There have been sporadic orders for e-sports peripheral products. Some end customers are placing orders one after another and hope to ship them in March and April. The stock level is also lower than other product lines.


3. TrendForce: ChatGPT drives GPU demand to 30,000 units


According to IT Home, TrendForce released a report stating that since generative AI must invest a large amount of data for training, a large number of high-performance GPUs must be used to shorten the training. Taking the GPT model behind ChatGPT as an example, its training parameters have increased from about 120 million in 2018 to nearly 180 billion in 2020.


TrendForce predicts that the demand for GPUs is estimated to be about 20,000 units, and in the future it will be up to 30,000 units for commercial use (with NVIDIA A100 as the main computing basis). The development of generative AI will lead to a significant increase in GPU demand, which will benefit related supply chains. The main beneficiaries are GPU leaders Nvidia and AMD.


4. Analyst: Apple has restarted iPhone SE 4, using self-developed 5G chips


According to the Financial Associated Press on the 28th, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s latest survey shows that Apple has recently restarted the iPhone SE 4, and the biggest change from the previous generation of SE is the use of OLED screens instead of LCD screens. SE 4 is more like a minor facelift based on the 6.1-inch iPhone 14; the new SE 4 is expected to use Apple’s self-developed 5G baseband chip produced by 4nm, which is currently expected to only support the Sub-6GHz frequency band.


5. Qualcomm CEO: Apple is expected to launch a self-developed 5G baseband next year


According to TechWeb citing foreign media reports, at MWC 2023, Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon said that Apple is expected to launch a self-developed 5G baseband in 2024.


Apple does seem to have a 5G modem, or at least is expected to have one soon. Rumor has it that one of the reasons for the cancellation of the iPhone SE 4 was that Apple intended to use its own 5G chip in the phone, which performed poorly compared to Qualcomm’s version. It’s unclear how Apple’s chips will perform compared to Qualcomm’s, but moving to an in-house design could lower Apple’s costs over time, as well as save on licensing fees.


6. The salary of many IC designers has declined, up to 44%


According to the Taiwan Business Times, the average annual salary of employees in IC design factories will generally decline in 2022. Among the currently disclosed IC design companies in Taiwan, China, the highest drop is about 44%, and the lowest drop is about 3%.


The average annual salary of the panel driver IC factory Novatek dropped to NT$4.053 million, a drop of about 21.48%; the average annual salary of the panel driver IC factory Ruiding dropped to NT$5.001 million, a drop of about 18.27%; the niche storage factory Jinghaoke , the average annual salary fell to NT$2.59 million, a drop of about 44%; MediaTek, the average annual salary decreased slightly by about 3%, maintaining the level of NT$4.992 million.

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