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Supply chain battles for much improved levels of price/performance competitiveness

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Intel rejects 50% Ultrabook CPU price cut demand from notebook players [Aug 16, 2011]

Intel’s Oak Trail platform, paired Atom Z670 CPU (US$75) with SM35 chipsets (US$20) for tablet PC machine, is priced at US$95, already accounting for about 40% of the total cost of a tablet PC, even with a 70-80% discount, the platform is still far less attractive than Nvidia’s Tegra 2 at around US$20. Although players such as Asustek Computer and Acer have launched models with the platform for the enterprise market, their machines’ high price still significantly limit their sales, the sources noted.

As for Ultrabook CPUs, Intel is only willing to provide marketing subsides and 20% discount to the first-tier players, reducing the Core i7-2677 to US$317, Core i7-2637 to US$289 and Core i5-2557 to US$250.

As for Intel’s insistence, the sources believe that Intel is concerned that once it agrees to reduce the price, the company may have difficulties to maintain gross margins in the 60% range and even after passing the crisis, the company may have difficulty in maintaining its pricing. Even with Intel able to maintain a high gross margin through its server platform, expecting Intel to drop CPU prices may be difficult to achieve, the sources added.

Update: ASUStek seems to maneuver by far the best among them (special early ultrabook engagement with Intel, with popssible higher discount, in addition to exploiting the Tegra 2 opportunity best via the only successful so far EeePad Transformer):
Asustek expects better business performance in 2H11 [Aug 17, 2011]

Asustek Computer expects its performance in the second half of 2011 to be better than that of fellow Taiwan-based companies, according to CFO David Chang.

Asustek is likely to hit record quarterly revenues in the third  quarter and is optimistic about business operation in the fourth mainly due to the launch of second-generation Eee Pad Transformer tablets and ultrabook notebooks, Chang said.

Asustek aims at a 14% market share for notebooks in China, and
became the largest vendor in Eastern Europe’s notebook market in the second quarter. In addition, Asustek is poised to make forays into Latin America, especially Brazil and Mexico.

Asustek expects to ship 14 million notebooks and 4.5-5 million Eee PCs in 2011, Chang indicated. Asustek shipped 11.4 million motherboards in the first half and expects to ship 22.5-23 million for the year.

Tablet players expected to cut price to digest inventory overstock [Aug 16, 2011]

Non-Apple tablet PC players, facing the fact their devices are having weaker sales than their order volumes, while demand from the retail channel has been quickly shrinking, are expected to start cutting their tablet prices by the end of September to digest inventory and minimize losses, and the decisions are expected to trigger a new price war within the tablet industry, according to sources from notebook players.

The sources pointed out that most non-Apple tablet players had weaker-than-expected performances and Asustek, which had a rather better performance, had shipments of 700,000 tablets from May to July with actual sales only reaching 500,000 units.

RIM and High Tech Computer (HTC) are already placing their hopes in 2012 with Samsung and Motorola both seeing their tablet demand weaker than expected, while some other players such as Acer are gradually reducing their orders.

Motorola, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Asustek and Acer have all recently reduced their tablet prices with the lowest price currently at US$370; however, with their inventory will become harder to digest, the sources believe there will be at least two waves of price cuts from the end of September to the year-end holiday, reducing the tablet average price level to US$350 and may even drop further to US$300 in the future.

More: Acer & Asus: Compensating lower PC sales by tablet PC push[March 29, 2011 with updates upto Aug 2, 2011]

AMD’s Bright Outlook Likely to Boost Taiwan’s Supply Chain [Aug 16, 2011]

Taiwan’s IC supply chain is expected to benefit from good business performance of Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), which is projected to outperform archrival Intel Corp. in the third quarter with increased shipment of accelerated processing units (APUs).

The Taiwan supply chin is mainly composed of manufacturers including foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), packager Siliconware Precision Industries Co., Ltd., tester STATS ChipPAC Taiwan Semiconductor Corp., and substrate maker Nanya Printed Circuit Board Corp.

AMD estimates its revenue for the third quarter to rise 8-12% from the second quarter, compared with Intel’s projected 8% revenue growth. According to AMD, it has enjoyed robust APU shipments since the second quarter, with both its PC and laptop APU shipments hit new highs.

AMD has contracted TSMC, currently the world’s No.1 pure foundry, to make its Ontario [C-series], Zacate [E-series], and Desna [Z-series, specific for tablet PCs, a power optimized version of C-series, which are also for ultra-thin notebooks: Z-01 of 5.9W vs. C-50 9W in both cases with two 1 GHz “Bobcat” CPU cores + 6250 GPU] processors using 40-nanometer process technology as well as its Hudson chips using 65nm process technology.

While increasing foundry outsourcing to TSMC, AMD has augmented packaging and testing contracts to Taiwan’s providers as well. Nanya is also expected to land contracts via Japanese partner NGK Spark Plug, which has directly received substrate contracts from AMD.

In the second quarter, AMD saw its revenue slightly dip 2% from the first quarter to US$1.57 billion, while its gross margin was 46%, up from 45% recorded in the first quarter this year.

AMD Llano processor shipments reach 1.3-1.5 million units in July [Aug 4, 2011]

AMD shipped about one million Llano [A-series, for mainstream notebooks, all-in-one PCs and desktop PCs: with up to four up to 2.9 GHz x86 CPU cores and with an integrated DirectX 11-capable discrete-level graphics unit that features up to 400 Radeon cores along with dedicated HD video processing on a single chip] APUs in June and 1.3-1.5 million units in July, and with the appearance of the company’s new Llano APUs in the fourth quarter, annual shipments of Llano in 2011 should reach 7.5-8 million units, according to sources from motherboard players.

The sources pointed out that AMD is pushing its 40nm-based C series (Ontario) and E series (Zacate) APUs for the entry-level market, while it is pushing 32nm-based Llano-based APUs for the mid-range to performance and mainstream markets, and is pushing 32nm AM3+ FX series (Zambezi) processors for the high-end market in the fourth quarter.

In 2012, AMD will launch a new APU series codenamed Krishna using a 28nm process from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), targeting mini PCs, and all-in-one PCs with an APU series codenamed Trinity to replace Llano for the mainstream market, adopting a 32nm process from Globalfoundries. For the high-end market, AMD will launch an APU series codenamed Komodo.

AMD shipping Llano APUs; prices leaked [May 23, 2011]

AMD has started shipping its Llano APUs to notebook clients and will begin to market the APUs to channels in July 2011, according to sources from notebook makers.

AMD targets to ship one million notebook-use Llano APUs in June, 1.5 million in July, and a total of 8-9 million for the whole of 2011, revealed the sources, citing AMD’s internal estimates.

If the shipment goals are realized, AMD will be able to boost its share in the notebook CPU segment to 15% by the end of the year, the sources commented.

Additionally, AMD will also launch six Llano and four Bulldozer APUs for desktops.

AMD: Llano and Bulldozer APU prices (k unit)
Core Model Price Competing Intel model
Llano/quad-core A8-3550P US$170 Core i5-2300
Llano/quad-core A8-3550 US$150
Llano/quad-core A6-3450P US$130 Core i3-2120/2010
Llano/quad core A6-3450 US$110
Llano/dual-core A4-3350P US$80 Pentium G6960/6950 and Sandy Bridge G800/600
Llano/dual core E2-3250 US$70 Pentium G620
Bulldozer/octo-core FX-8130P US$320 Core i7 2600K/2600
Bulldozer/octo-core FX-8130 US$290
Bulldozer/6-core FX-6110 US$240 Core i5 2500K/2500
Bulldozer/quad-core FX-4110 US$220

More: Acer repositioning for the post Wintel era starting with AMD Fusion APUs[June 17, 2011]

Apple cancels supply schedule of iPad 3 for 2H11 [Aug 16, 2011]

US-based tablet PC players Apple has recently canceled its iPad 3 supply schedule for the second half of 2011, forcing other tablet PC brand vendors that are set to launch same-level product to compete, to follow suit and delay their launch; however, supply of the iPad 2 in the second half will still be maintained at 28-30 million units, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.

Apple was originally set to launch its iPad 3 in the second half of 2011 with a supply volume of 1.5-2 million units in the third quarter and 5-6 million in the fourth quarter, but Apple’s supply chain partners have recently discovered that the related figures have all already been deleted, the sources pointed out.

The sources believe that the yield rate of the 9.7-inch panel that feature resolution of 2,048 by 1,536 may be the major reason of the supply delay since such panels are mainly supplied by Japan-based Sharp with a high price and Apple’s other supply partners Samsung Electronics and LG Display are both unable to reach a good yield. Since Apple is unable to control a certain level of supply volume, the iPad 3 is unlikely to be mass produced as scheduled, the sources added.

Sources from panel players also pointed out that the 9.7-inch panel with high resolution requires a much larger backlight source and a single edge light bar is hardly able to reach satisfaction levels. Due to iPad 3’s requirements over the physical thinness, rich color support and toughness will all conflict with the panel’s technology restrictions; therefore, this could cause a delay in the launch.

In June, LG Display supplied three million panels for the iPad 2 with Samsung supplying 1-1.5 million units and Chimei Innolux (CMI) 10,000-20,000 units. In July, LG’s supply volume dropped to 2.8 million units with Samsung maintaining its same levels, and CMI’s volume increased to 450,000-500,000 units.

Update: CMI fails to become iPad 3 panel supplier, say sources [Aug 19, 2011]

Chimei Innolux (CMI) has failed to become a LCD panel supplier for the Apple iPad 3 due to technological hurdles, according to industry sources.

CMI has cut into the supply chain of iPad 2, which uses IPS panels, but the new Apple tablet is more demanding in terms of resolution, the sources said. The iPad 3 will feature a 9.7-inch panel with resolution of 2,048×1,536 compared to the iPad 2’s 1,024×768.

CMI has been developing panels trying to meet the iPad 3 specifications, but problems with transmittance and yield rates of the panels have resulted in its failure to receive certification for the iPad, the sources said.

CMI began developing IPS panels last year after receiving license from Hitachi in July 2010. The license covers IPS, Super-IPS, Advanced-Super IPS, IPS-Pro, and IPS-Pro-Prolleza.

CMI previously scheduled mass production of IPS panels to begin as early as the end of 2010 or early 2011. But low yield rates delayed the mass production until recent months. The maker’s IPS panel monthly output in July 2011 reached nearly 500,000 units. It is looking forward to an output of one million units in August 2011, the sources said.

The sources noted that the iPad 3’s resolution requirement of 2,048×1,536 pixels is also a challenge even for iPad panel regular suppliers such as LG Display (LGD) and Samsung Electronics. Apart from the two Korea makers, Japan’s Sharp has als been selected to supply panels for the iPad 3, the sources said.

They noted that CMI still stands a chance of becoming a regular supplier for iPad 3 if it can improve its panel quality to meet Apple’s requirements. The maker recently invested NT$800 million to NT$1 billion [US$28 million to US$35 million] to improve manufacturing facilities, the sources said.

Chimei Innolux Continues Suffering Loss in Q2 [Aug 16, 2011]

Chimei Innolux Corp., the largest maker of thin film transistor-liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panels in Taiwan, reported a loss of NT$13 billion (US$448.3 million) in the second quarter, deeper than institutional investors` forecast.

Industry sources said that the four major makers of large-sized TFT-LCD panels, i.e. AU Optronics Corp. (AUO), Chimei Innolux, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd. (CPT) and HannStar Display Corp., together reported total loss of about NT$120 billion (US$413.8 million [US$4.15 billion]) in the past about one year.

Some institutional investors said that the all-size panel prices are expected to fall slightly, implying that makers` losses in the third quarter would not be less than second quarter`s.

At its recent half-year online shareholder meeting, Chimei adjusted down its capital spending to NT$50 billion to NT$60 billion (US$1.7 billion to US$2.1 billion) from NT$75 billion to NT$70 billion (US$2.6 billion to US$2.4 billion) lowered previously and NT$100 billion (US$3.4 billion) announced in early this year. Chimei said that this year the company would focus mainly on high-level equipment and R&D projects for touch-panel technology.

AUO, Chimei Innolux`s major rival and the No. 2 panel maker in Taiwan, recently also adjusted down its capital spending goal to under NT$70 billion (US$2.4 billion) from NT$90 billion to NT$95 billion (US$3.3 billion to US$3.1 billion).

Chimei Innolux is a merger between three companies, including Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp. (CMO), Innolux Display Corp., and TPO Displays Corp. (TPO), formed in the second quarter of 2010, and began reporting loss starting the third quarter of last year that has continued for four seasons.

AUO reported an accumulated loss of NT$36 billion (US$1.24 billion) in the past three quarters.

Eddie Chen, Chimei Innolux`s chief financial officer, said that his company focused on shipments of core businesses and cut many system assembly works in the second quarter. The company`s second-quarter shipments of large-sized panels increased about 10% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ), but its revenue generated from small/medium-sized panels fell 18.4% QoQ due to the falling panel prices. J.C. Wang, president of Chimei Innolux`s Southern Taiwan Science Park (STSP) branch, pointed out that his company decided to cut system-assembly business because it takes too many labor forces and that`s not his company`s core competitiveness.

Wang said that the third quarter is a traditional high season, but the market now seems relatively weaker than it should be. In the second quarter, Chimei Innolux`s capacity utilization rate was about 80%, the company said that it would adjust according to market conditions.

LCD maker CPT still deep in red in second quarter [July 30, 2011]

LCD panel maker Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd (CPT, 中華映管) yesterday reported its 12th consecutive quarterly loss as prices for slim-screen panels for televisions and computers dropped on sluggish end demand.

The company added that outlook for the third quarter remained sluggish, with demand expected to fall below the seasonal norm.

However, Chunghwa Picture said it has no plans to cut its capital spending this year of between NT$2 billion (US$69 million) and NT$2.5 billion, which would be used to improve its equipment to produce high-definition flat panels used in tablet devices and smartphones.

Earlier this week, its bigger local rival, AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), said it planned to slash capital spending by 30 percent.

In the quarter ending June 30, Chunghwa Picture’s losses widened to NT$3.13 billion [US$108 million] from losses of NT$2.33 billion [US$80 million] in the first quarter. The Taoyuan-based company posted losses of NT$1.5 billion in the second quarter of last year.

“Market demand, especially for TVs and IT products [computers], slumped in the first half. Oversupply caused panel prices to drop further,” company president Lin Sheng-chang (林盛昌) said during a teleconference with investors.

“As the visibility for IT panels is unclear, we will make inventory management our priority,” Lin said.

Days of inventory increased to 37 days last quarter from 31 days in the first quarter, the company said.

The fragile economic recovery in the US and Europe is expected to curtail demand for consumer electronics, while demand for notebook computers should pick up slightly after new models hit the shelves, Chunghwa Picture said.

To combat these difficult times, Lin said the company would have to accelerate its shift to high-margin products, such as tablet panels, touch sensors and smartphone screens, in the second half.

Its newly formed strategic partnership with the world’s biggest e-paper display supplier, E Ink Holdings Inc (元太科技), will help it reach this goal, Lin said.

Last week, E Ink agreed to spend NT$1.5 billion [US$52 million] to subscribe to Chunghwa Picture bonds. Chunghwa Picture agreed to supply LCD panels to E Ink.

Besides e-paper displays, E Ink also supplies high-definition flat panels to LG Display and tablet device makers.

Shipments of LCD panels used in smartphones, tablets and consumer electronics should grow by 20 percent to 25 percent in the second half, from 200 million units shipped in the first half, Lin said.

Last quarter, revenues from small-and-medium LCD panels used in tablets and smartphones accounted for a larger share, 42 percent, of Chunghwa Picture’s total revenues of NT$15.93 billion, from 37 percent in the prior quarter, according to the company’s financial statement.

Chunghwa Picture also said it would terminate its money-losing cathode-ray-tube (CRT) business. The company plans to revamp its CRT factories in Malaysia and in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, and shift to touch panel assembly.

HannStar posts operating loss [Aug 15, 2011]

HannStar Display has announced unconsolidated results for second-quarter 2011, with total sales rising 10% sequentially to NT$1.15 billion (US$387.4 million). But it recorded an operating loss of NT$1.04 billion and a net loss of NT$ 1.57 billion [US$54 million], which was translated into a loss per share of NT$ 0.27.

Gross, operating, and net margin in the second quarter were 7%, -9%, and -14% respectively. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was 1%.

HannStar said the operating loss in the second quarter was the result of an effort to enlarge its manufacturing capacity in Nanjing, China, which cost it an extra NT$1.88 billion [US$65 million] in operation.

Capacity utilization of HannStar was nearly full in second-quarter 2011. Small- to medium-size panels under 10-inch took up about 45% of its total revenues. Notebook panels accounted for 10% and monitor panels 45%.

HannStar is expected to enhance notebook panels’ share to 15% and small- to medium-size panels to 55% in third-quarter 2011. Monitor panels’ share will be lowered to around 30%.

HannStar expects small- to medium-size panels’ share to reach 60% by end of 2011 and notebook panels to grow to 20%.

Explanatory excerpts from Pixel Qi’s first big name device manufacturing partner is the extremely ambitious ZTE [Feb 15, 2011, with updates up to June 3, 2011]

to engage some of the largest factories that have ever been made, and for that to work their economics need very high volumes. We need to have customers who really commit to large purchase orders almost before we start to design.”

The display business can be considered to be the worlds biggest non-profit industry, the 5 biggest LCD makers who produce 90% of the worlds LCDs, produce for $120 Billion in screens every year but can only make small profit margins out of that because of the strong competition and the large volumes shipped. Those companies that produce the worlds LCD screens have very high costs, very high risks, little flexibility.

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3 Comments

  1. […] post: Supply chain battles for much improved levels of price/performance competitiveness [Aug 16, […]

  2. […] – Netbook prices starting $50 less at $200 via Intel MeeGo strategy [July 29 – Aug 17, 2011] – Supply chain battles for much improved levels of price/performance competitiveness [Aug 16-19, 2011] – More on supply chain battles for … [Aug 31, 2011] – Be aware of ZTE et al. […]

  3. […] SoC strategy strengthened by 22nm Tri-Gate technology [May 10 – Nov 30, 2011] –> Supply chain battles for much improved levels of price/performance competitiveness [Aug 16, 2011] –> More on supply chain battles for … [Aug 31, 2011] –> […]

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