Boom quarter for top ten chip foundries

May 31, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
Boom quarter for chip foundries
The top ten chip foundries saw record revenues of US$22.75bn in the last quarter according to the latest report from TrendForce.

Soaring demand means capacity at 7nm and 16/22nm has been in shortage since 2020, with various chip foundries raising their wafer prices and adjusting their product mixes to ensure profitability, says market researchers TrendForce.

Despite the result for 4Q20 being a high base for revenue comparison and power outage incidents at some fab sites, the quarterly total revenue of the top ten chip foundries rose by 1 percent QoQ to a record high of $22.75bn in 1Q21.

Combined quarterly revenues of the top ten chip foundries reached a historical high in 1Q21, with TSMC taking the top spot. TrendForce expects the shortage of wafer capacities to persist and further propel the revenue performances of various foundries in 2Q21.

Despite falls at Samsung and Global Foundries, TrendForce expects the quarterly total revenue of the top 10 foundries to once again reach a historical high by undergoing a 1-3 percent increase QoQ in 2Q21.

The ranking of foundries by revenue for 1Q21 shows that TSMC maintained its first place position with a quarterly revenue of US$12.9 billion, a 2 percent increase QoQ. TSMC’s main revenue drivers have been its 7nm and 16/12nm nodes.

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Revenue from the 7nm foundry service has kept climbing at a stable pace thanks to orders from AMD, MediaTek, and Qualcomm, registering a QoQ increase of 23 percent for 1Q21. The revenue from the 16/12nm foundry service has also grown on account of the demand related to MediaTek’s 5G RF transceivers and Bitmain’s cryptocurrency mining machines, registering a QoQ increase of nearly 10 percent for 1Q21.

The revenue produced by the 5nm node, which is currently under the market spotlight, underwent a quarterly decrease mainly because Apple as the largest client for the 5nm foundry service entered the off-season for device production.

Samsung posted a small QoQ drop of 2 percent in its foundry revenue for 1Q21 to US$4.11 billion. This February, a freak winter storm in Texas caused power outages in Austin and forced Samsung to temporarily shut down its fab Line S2 that was located in the vicinity. Line S2 finally returned to normal operation at the start of April. The suspension of wafer input at the fab for almost a whole month caused Samsung to become one of the very few foundries that posted a revenue drop for 1Q21.

UMC maintained a fully loaded capacity in 1Q21 thanks to the robust demand for PMICs, TDDI, OLED DDIs, CIS, and Wi-Fi SoCs. Its shipments were also fairly brisk. Owing to the undersupply situation, UMC raised prices, thereby causing its revenue to jump 5 percent QoQ to US$1.68 billion for 1Q21.

Next: GlobalFoundries drop and Chinese foundries

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