Top 10 Trends in Information and Communication Technology Industry for 2020


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TrendForce provides predictions of the information and communication technology industry for 2020, focusing on 10 key themes.

Demand from AI, 5G, and automotive will push back against headwinds in the global semiconductor market

The global semiconductor market has been in a slump this year on account of the fallout from the US-China trade dispute. Although the demand outlook remains uncertain for 2020, TrendForce expects the market to make a gradual recovery on the back of the demand related to 5G, AI, and automotive applications. The strategies of IC design companies for next year will mainly revolve around introducing next-generation IP cores and strengthening capabilities related to chip customization and the development of ASICs. IC design companies will also accelerate their adoption of next-generation process technologies, including the 7nm EUV and the 5nm.

Regarding trends on the manufacturing side during 2020, the usage of the 7nm will continue to increase. Furthermore, the schedules for volume production on the 5nm and for R&D of the 3nm will become clearer. The latest cutting-edge process technologies will account for a greater share of the overall production next year. Additionally, there will be an increasing focus on the development and usage of compound semiconductor materials such as SiC, GaN, and GaAs. These materials feature high voltage resistance, high frequency switching and low resistance. They are thus suitable for power discretes, RF switch ICs, and other products that are gaining traction in the supply chains for 5G technologies and electric vehicles.

Finally, the continuing demand for chip products to feature smaller process pitch and higher computing power has resulted in a steady shift toward SiP in the development advanced IC packaging technologies. The SiP architecture is more effective in meeting the requirements of AI, 5G, and automotive applications because it offers greater flexibility and lower cost compared with the SoC architecture.

Development of DRAM will advance toward EUV and DDR5/LPDDR5; NAND Flash stacking will surpass 100 layers

DRAM manufacturing is approaching the physical limit of Moore’s Law as the development of process technologies moves into the 10nm class (i.e. 1X-nm, 1Y-nm, and 1Z-nm). Not only is it the case that further die shrinking no longer brings significant supply bit growth, but cost reduction is also becoming increasingly difficult. DRAM suppliers are now working to double the density per chip from the current 8Gb to 16Gb using the 1Y-nm and 1Z-nm technologies. This, in turn, will help gradually raise the market penetration of high-density modules. EUV machines may also find their way into the development of the 1Z-nm processes and replace the existing double patterning techniques. A generational shift will also take place in the DRAM market in 2020 with the debut of DDR5/LPDDR5. Even though DDR5/LPDDR5 products will just be entering the stage of initial adoption and sample testing, their advantages over DDR4/LPDDR4 such as less power consumption and faster data rate will immediately get noticed.

In the NAND Flash market, suppliers will be attempting to cross the 100-layer threshold in the development of the stacking technology during 2020. They will also be working to increase the maximum density per chip to the 1Tb level from the current 512Gb. The trend toward more layers and higher chip density is mainly in response to the growing demand stemming from the continuing progress in the fields of 5G, AI, and edge computing. To support these emerging applications, end devices and systems including smartphones, servers, and data center equipment will require larger storage capacity. At the same time, the physical dimensions of storage solutions will have to be scaled down further. Apart from the evolution of NAND Flash chips themselves, the interface specification of the smartphone storage solutions will upgrade from UFS 2.1 to UFS 3.X that offers faster data rate. Regarding storage solutions for the server/data center market, next year will see the adoption of PCIe G4 in Enterprise SSDs. Being the more advanced interface technology, PCIe G4 offers double the speed and performance of PCIe G3. The launching of UFS 3.X and PCIe G4 products next year will be targeting the high-end segment of their respective markets.

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