The foundry industry moves to 3nm and gate-all-round manufacturing processes

TSMC and Samsung are expected to announce production of their respective 3nm process technologies in 2H22. While the former will continue to adopt the FinFET architecture that it has been using since the 1Xnm node, Samsung will for the first time utilize its own implementation of GAAFET, called MBCFET (multi-bridge channel field-effect transistor) for its 3nm process technology.

The GAAFET design reduces leakage currents by giving the gate a greater degree of control over the channel. The first batch of products mass produced at the 3nm node in 2H22 is expected to be high-performance computing and smartphone chips.

DDR5 DRAM to enter mass production, NAND Flash stacking to exceed 200 layers

Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron will start mass production of DDR5 DRAM components while increasing the penetration of LPDDR5 DRAM in the smartphone market in response to demand for 5G smartphones. With memory speed in excess of 4800Mbps, DDR5 DRAM can improve computing performances and low power consumption.

Intel will release CPUs that support DDR5 memory with Alder Lake for the personal computers and Eagle Strea for server computers. DDR5 is expected to take 10 to 15 percent of total bit output by the end of 2022. Samsung and SK Hynix will begin production of 1-alpha nm process technologies using extreme ultraviolet lithography.

Suppliers of NAND flash will migrate from 176L in 2021 to 200L and above in 2022 although with component densities remaining at 512Gbyte and 1Tbyte.

Next: SiC and GaN

Third-generation semiconductor processes move to 200mm wafers

So-called third-generation semiconductor processes – SiC and GaN – will move to 200mm-diameter wafers.

The rise of electric vehicles and 5G telecoms is producing a persistent demand for SiC and Si substrates. At present substrate production is constrained and is most consistent on 6-inch wafers but that has led to a long-term shortage in foundries’ and IDMs’ production capacities.

In response substrate suppliers, including Cree, II-VI, and Qromis, are now planning to migrate their SiC and GaN production to 200mm wafers. At the same time foundries such as TSMC and Vanguard are attempting to shift to 200mm wafer fabrication for GaN-on-Si and Infineon is releasing its CoolSiC MOSFETs manufactured in 200mm wafers.

Micro/Mini LED display development will revolve around active matrix solutions

TVs represent one of the major directions of mainstream Micro LED development, primarily because TVs, compared to IT products, have a relatively low technological barrier of entry.

At the same time LCDs equipped with mini LED backlights show increased numbers of chips per panel in efforts to raise contrast ratios to 1:1,000,000  comparable to OLED displays.

AMOLED displays, folding forms and under-display cameras will impact smartphones

The primary value added to AMOLED panels in 2022 will likely continue to be the ever-improving foldable designs, which will feature optimized weight reduction and power efficiency. Apart from mainstream foldable phones that can unfold to reach tablet-like sizes, clamshell-like designs such as flip-up and flip-down smartphone bodies will also emerge as a form factor that more closely resembles the smartphones currently in use.

Other foldable designs, including form factors with even more folds or rollable form factors, are expected to enter production within the near future. TrendForce expects foldable phones to reach a penetration rate of more than 1 percent in 2022 and 4 percent in 2024.

Low-temperature polysilicon OLED (LTPO) panels are set to become the mainstream display panel for flagship smartphones.

Next: 5G and satellite mobile

5G standalone trials and network slicing for low-latency applications

Communications applications that are at the intersection of 5G, massive IoT, and critical IoT will emerge in response to enterprise demand. These applications, including light switches, sensors, and thermostats used in smart factories, involve the combination of network endpoints and data transmission. In particular, critical IoT applications include smart grid automation, telemedicine, traffic safety, and industrial automation, whereas critical IoT use cases within the context of Industry 4.0 include asset tracking, predictive maintenance, FSM (field service management), and logistics optimization.

Satellite operators to compete with mobile telecoms as 3GPP supports non-terrestrial networks

3GPP recently announced that Release 17 Protocol Coding Freeze will take place in 2022. Release 17 represents the first time 3GPP has incorporated non-terrestrial network communications into its releases and therefore marks a significant milestone for both the mobile communications industry and the satellite communications industry.

Regarding the deployment of low earth orbit satellites, US-based SpaceX has applied to launch the highest number of satellites among all satellite operators. Other major operators include Amazon, UK-based OneWeb, Canada-based Telesat.

LEO satellites offer signal coverage that is unaffected by geographical features, such as mountainous regions, oceans, and deserts, but they are also able to synergize with the 5G network. TrendForce therefore forecasts an increase in global satellite revenue in 2022.

IoT to drive digital twinning and the metaverse

IoT development in 2022 will likely focus on cyber-physical systems (CPSs) that combine 5G, edge computing, and AI technologies to extract and analyze valuable information from vast data streams for the purpose of smart automation and prediction.

Digital CPS twin are being deployed for smart manufacturing and smart cities. Cyber-physical systems are being extended via 3D sensing, virtual and augmented reality capabilities. The IoT-based metaverse will likely emerge as a smart, real-time, and safe mirror to the physical world, and the first application of the IoT-based metaverse is expected to be smart factories.

Next: Immersion

AR/VR to become more immersive with addition of sensors and AI processing

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital transformation and there is demand to across multiple enterprise and consumer applications to increase the degree of immersion.

Virtual communities and online games will likely drive expansion of the AR/VR market in 2022 with improved sensing and graphics. For instance, eye-tracking functionalities will become an optional feature of consumer products released by Oculus and Sony. AR/VR solutions may start to provide partial haptic feedback to the user through controllers or other wearable devices.

Continued extension of autonomous driving technology

Automated valet parking, an SAE level 4 driverless parking service, is expected to become an important optional function of high-end vehicles beginning in 2022. However, since AVP systems differ according to vehicle specifications, they are subject to various restrictions related to driving conditions, including fixed/unfixed routes and private/public parking spaces, while parking lot conditions such as wireless network connectivity and the comprehensiveness of traffic markings can also affect the viability of AVP.

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