Semiconductor Market Research

Briefs

The Objective Analysis Brief is a very short report format used to make a succinct statement about market positions, current events, economic outlook, or a company’s or product positioning.

WHY IS INTEL SUBSIDIZING 3D XPOINT MEMORY?

Intel’s Nonvolatile Solutions Group lost billions during the most profitable period in the history of the NAND flash market.  This is unlikely to change without some corporate restructuring.  This post explains how and why this is happening.
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WHAT DOES MICRON’S EXIT MEAN TO 3D XPOINT AND TO INTEL?

Three years after its initial launch, partners Intel and Micron announced end of their joint development efforts for 3D XPoint Memory.  What does this mean to prospective users, to Intel, to Micron, to their competition, and to investors?
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DOES YMTC’S “XTACKING” 3D NAND MAKE SENSE?

YMTC, China’s new NAND flash manufacturer, is using a groundbreaking “Xtacking” approach to produce 3D NAND chips.  This Objective Analysis Brief performs a rough cost analysis on this technology to determine whether this technique can produce NAND flash at competitive prices.
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WILL NAND FLASH AND DRAM BE DISPLACED BY SOMETHING NEW?

For decades, researchers have worked on new memory technologies to displace DRAM, SRAM, and NAND and NOR flash.  This transition always gets delayed.  This Objective Analysis Brief explains why these technologies continue to receive funding and why they never deliver.
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FORECASTING THE SEMICONDUCTOR MARKET

Although accurate semiconductor forecasts are straightforward to produce, the consistently-accurate methodology defined in this Objective Analysis Brief is rarely used.  This Brief is based upon a video on the VLSI Research website that details the Objective Analysis 2019 semiconductor forecast.
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ARE CHIP OLIGOPOLIES REAL?

The DRAM business has undergone significant consolidation, leading some to hypothesize that there’s now an oligopoly and that prices will normalize, ending the business’ notorious revenue cycles.  Here we take a critical look at this argument to explain its fallacy.
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INVENTORY CLEARANCE AND THE SEMICONDUCTOR CYCLE

A very normal part of the semiconductor cycle is inventory clearance.  This Objective Analysis Brief illustrates how and why an inventory clearance helps ratchet a budding oversupply into a full-blown glut, triggering a price collapse.
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MEMORY CHIPS AND THE ELASTICITY MYTH

During downturns memory chip makers usually predict that margins will increase once price elasticity creates a demand increase.  This is a popular myth.  This Objective Analysis Brief reveals that short-term price elasticity has little or no impact upon memory chip sales.
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MOORE’S LAW MAY NOT BE DEAD, AFTER ALL

For years semiconductor makers and investors have worried that Moore’s Law will end.  This Objective Analysis Brief provides evidence that Moore’s Law is still moving forward and, in some cases, is moving faster than it has in the past.
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WHY COMMODITIES DRIVE THE SEMICONDUCTOR CYCLE

Those who understand why chip collapses occur, and how they impact certain subsectors more than others, will have an advantage in decision making.  This Objective Analysis Brief explains commodity and non-commodity chips and shows how each contributes to chip cycles.
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THE DANGER OF OVER-APPLYING TRADE SANCTIONS

Judicious application of trade sanctions has largely ended practices of dumping and collusion in semiconductors.  The US-China trade war has caused sanctions to be applied with less discretion.  This Brief considers the long-term implications of today’s growing application of trade sanctions.
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WDC – USING THE TOSHIBA JV TO IMPROVE PROFITS

The output of WDC’s and Toshiba’s NAND flash JV is split nearly 50/50, but WDC isn’t compelled to take its entire half.  This Objective Analysis Brief examines how WDC uses that to its advantage at the expense of its partner.
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INTEL REVEALS PLAN TO RESTORE PROCESS LEADERSHIP

Intel’s new CEO, Pat Gelsinger, has revealed a plan whereby Intel hopes to regain process leadership by building new fabs and becoming an important semiconductor foundry.  This Objective Analysis Brief questions this plan’s likelihood of success.
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EVERSPIN’S DREAMS OF MRAM GLORY: WHY MRAM MIGHT BECOME THE NEXT BIG MEMORY

Everspin has tied its future to MRAM technology, a technology that the company hopes will displace current leading memory types.  This Objective Analysis Brief projects how and why Everspin’s target market should grow to over $3.5 billion by 2029.
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IS A QUANTUM COMPUTING REVOLUTION IMMINENT?

Is Google’s recent boast of achieving Quantum Supremacy really that meaningful?  This Objective Analysis Brief explains Google’s claim and reviews Quantum Computing to see just how close we are to experiencing tectonic changes in computing architectures.
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WHAT A 5% DRAM WAFER CUT REALLY MEANS (Coming Soon)

In downturns, leading DRAM and NAND flash makers often cut wafer production by small percentages, implying an equivalent output reduction which, instead, is often trivial.  This Objective Analysis Brief explains why, and shows how to evaluate these production cuts.
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CHINA SEMICONDUCTOR PROGRESS & OPPORTUNITIES REVIEW 2020 (Coming Soon)

Five years after China’s “Made in China 2025” plan was launched, we review its semiconductor push, with a special focus on the country’s efforts to develop a domestic DRAM and NAND supply.  We also evaluate the initiative’s threat to leading incumbents.
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COMPOSING THE 2020 SEMICONDUCTOR FORECAST – OUR OUTLOOK BEFORE COVID-19 STRUCK (Coming Soon)

Objective Analysis updated its 2020 semiconductor forecast in late 2019, calling for the market to see zero growth at best, although our model actually predicted -6%.  This Brief explains how we determined our outlook for the 2020 chip market.
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HOW FAR BEHIND IS INTEL’S PROCESS MIGRATION? (Coming Soon)

Intel’s processes have fallen so far behind that its PC processors were in shortage for over a year.  This Objective Analysis Brief uses numbers from Intel’s 4Q19 earnings call to determine how few of Intel’s PC processors use advanced process nodes.
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CYPRESS/​INFINEON VERSUS BLOOMBERG: A CASE FOR MINDFUL UNDERSTANDING OF THE PRESS (Coming Soon)

In 2020, Bloomberg published an article about Infineon and Cypress Semiconductor that was based on misunderstandings, days later reiterating this article’s misunderstandings as truths.  A mindful understanding of the article leads to a different conclusion than that of Bloomberg’s correspondents.
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WINDOWS’ IMPACT ON CHIP SALES (Coming Soon)

For the past couple of decades businesses have explained that PC demand increases with the introduction of new Windows operating systems.  A close examination of the relationship between DRAM gigabyte demand and Windows introduction dates casts this theory into question.
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HOW ECONOMICS WILL UNDERMINE INTEL’S PROCESSOR DOMINANCE (Coming Soon)

Intel’s processor dominance is threatened, not because of technological issues, but because market economics are moving in a different direction than the company understands.  To retain its leadership Intel must undergo changes to meet this new reality.
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US-HUAWEI BATTLE LIKELY TO HARM US BUSINESS (Coming Soon)

The US Department of Commerce revised its Foreign-Produced Direct Product Rule and the Entity List to further undermine Huawei.  This Objective Analysis Brief explores the rule’s long-term implications, finding that US firms will be damaged as much as will Huawei.
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WHAT’S INTEL DOING IN MEMORY CHIPS? (Coming Soon)

Intel is losing over one billion dollars every year on its 3D XPoint memory chips.  This Objective Analysis Brief explains why this makes sense and projects that, once Intel has achieved its strategic goal, it will divest itself of this businesses.
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MOORE’S LAW HAS ENDED… AGAIN! (Coming Soon)

Moore’s Law has been expected to end several times over its 55-year history, but never seems to actually die.  This Objective Analysis Brief, originally published in June 2020, looks at the history and likely future of this amazing phenomenon.
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THE SAMSUNG APPROACH TO GROWTH (Coming Soon)

Samsung has done a splendid job of growing into a leading semiconductor company.  This Objective Analysis Brief reviews Samsung’s method and analyzes what has worked and what has not, with an eye on future routes to success.
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KIOXIA AS A BUSINESS (Coming Soon)

In 2020 Kioxia (formerly Toshiba Memory) announced its October 2020 IPO plans.  This Objective Analysis Brief explores the company’s place in the business and its strengths and weaknesses to provide to prospective investor with greater insight into this event.
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THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND SEMICONDUCTORS (Coming Soon)

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused profound business shifts, resulting in near ruin for some sectors while strengthening others.  This Objective Analysis brief, first published in late 2020, explores this phenomenon and shows how it relates to semiconductors.
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US GOVERNMENT PUTS THE SQUEEZE ON SMIC (Coming Soon)

The US Department of Commerce has added SMIC to its Entity List to control its access to US technology.  This Objective Analysis Brief explores the implications to the company, to China’s national semiconductor efforts, and to SMIC’s US-based tool suppliers.
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INTEL’S MEMORY BUSINESS SALE.  DOES IT MAKE SENSE? (Coming Soon)

In 2020 the Wall Street Journal published a leak that Intel was in negotiations for SK hynix to acquire Intel’s memory business, a rumor that later proved true.  This Objective Analysis Brief analyzes this sale to determine its feasibility.
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IS YMTC REALLY A THREAT TO THE NAND FLASH MEMORY BUSINESS? (Coming Soon)

China’s flagship NAND flash maker, YMTC, is already in production and some expect the company to take an 8% share of the market in 2021.  This Objective Analysis Brief evaluates YMTC’s late 2020 status and concludes that this is unlikely.
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SK HYNIX: BIG PLANS FOR THE FUTURE (Coming Soon)

In an earnings call, SK hynix’ CEO shared his vision to grow the company to revenues of ₩100 trillion.  While the Intel flash acquisition will help, it is hard to understand how management hopes to build revenues to this level.
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2021 MEMORY MARKET HINGES ON PANDEMIC RESPONSE (Coming Soon)

2021’s memory chip market – the swing factor in semiconductors – depends on whether today’s COVID-19 pandemic causes a global financial collapse.  This Objective Analysis Brief provides two market outlooks, one based on a collapse, and another based on a healthy economy.
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DETAILS OF SK HYNIX ACQUISITION OF INTEL FLASH BUSINESS (Coming Soon)

Slowly the details have emerged about the SK hynix acquisition of Intel’s NAND flash business, which is the bulk of Intel’s Nonvolatile Systems Group (NSG).  This Objective Analysis Brief shares recent details and explains why some may have been ill-conceived.
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INTEL CEO CHANGE BRINGS FOCUS BACK TO TECHNOLOGY (Coming Soon)

Intel announced in early 2021 that CEO Bob Swan would be replaced by Intel veteran Pat Gelsinger.  This Objective Analysis Brief focuses on the work that Gelsinger must do to win back prominence in the processor market that it created.
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MICRON KILLS 3D XPOINT – IS INTEL IN TROUBLE? (Coming Soon)

In an early 2021 investor conference call, Micron Technology revealed that it would discontinue its 3D XPoint memory efforts and sell the facility that produces it.  Will its sole customer Intel Corporation be undermined by this move?
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AFTER THE COLLAPSE: SEMICONDUCTORS ENTER THE NEXT PHASE (Coming Soon)

This Objective Analysis Brief compares the semiconductor industry’s status during the 2019 downturn to a typical downturn.  Data from leading memory chip manufacturers shows that 3Q19 prices had nearly reached cost, moving them to the next phase of the cycle.
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SEAGATE’S DOWNHILL RIDE (Coming Soon)

For 17 years SSDs have eroded the HDD market.  Through consolidation only two important HDD makers survive: Seagate and WDC.  WDC embraced SSDs, while Seagate has ignored them.  This Objective Analysis Brief illustrates the results of these two strategies.
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DOES DRAM NEED EUV? (Coming Soon)

Samsung argues that EUV is necessary for today’s DRAMs, yet Micron will postpone using EUV until 2024.  Meanwhile, SK hynix is experimenting with the technology.  This Objective Analysis Brief examines why each company is following a different path.
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WHY DRAM VENDORS MUST CONSOLIDATE

There is a lot of talk about consolidation in the DRAM and NAND markets today, but few truly understand why consolidation really happens. In this brief Objective Analysis shows how fab costs drive smaller players to leave the business.
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