Jim Feldhan, the CEO of market researching company Semico Research, started his presentation at a press conference on the opening day of Semicon Korea 2019 by explaining about the concept of ‘10-Year Treasury Constant Maturity Minus 1-Year Treasury Constant Maturity (T10Y1Y)’
Feldhan explained the ‘T10Y1Y from 1970 to 2018’ graph and stated “if the yield rate of a short-term bond had exceeded that of the long-term bond, the economic recession soon took place. You can see the same thing happen in the last 7 cases of economic recession.” In the end, he added that “this value (long-term bond yield rate - short-term bond yield rate) approached 0 a few months ago.”
Forecasts of economic recession through the difference in long-term and short-term yields of U.S government bonds are widely known as an economic analytical, predictive model to many people. Several foreign economic news sources have already reported the danger of a global economic recession in the following years based on this model. However, Feldhan stated that “This year, the economic growth cycle will show an unprecedented phenomenon, there are areas we can expect huge growth, and the semiconductor market is showing some promise in this regard.”
Feldhan picked AI, IoT, and automotive semiconductors as the main growth keywords. These are also the areas which most industry insiders have been recently talking about as the driving force of the semiconductor market. The paradigm shift from desktop computer to mobile smartphones, smart cities, and self-driving cars is also a huge factor in this regard.
Feldhan predicted that the traditional desktop market will shrink by 7%, and the laptop market will grow by 1%. He also added that “smartphone market will decrease by 1%. But if you break it down, the high-end smartphone market, which includes Samsung Galaxy S and Apple iPhone, will shrink by 3%, but the medium-low price smartphone market will grow by 10%.”
He also chose smart speakers and servers as areas that will continue to grow largely this year. However, he predicted that the automotive semiconductor market, which is an emerging market, will only grow by 1% due to global economic effects. He said that “Because of many issues including the fatal car accident in Arizona, the rate of self-driving cars in the U.S are falling. This trend will continue for some time.”
Feldhan took the dairy industry, for example, to say that AI and IoT are being applied to areas that had little to do with semiconductors. He quoted “the temperature has correlations with cow happiness, and the happiness of a cow is directly related to milk production. IoT sensors can be used to monitor the temperature, and the AI can decide whether to spray water vapor around cows to maintain a certain temperature. This way, milk production can be increased.” He also stated that “because the price of sensors is going down, the application of AI and IoT will be an emerging trend in various industries”
Feldhan categorized the automotive semiconductor into four sub-categories -Body Electronics, Powertrain, Safety, and Comfort&Convenience- based on the order of sales. He predicted that the ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) field, which had low sales in the past, will break the $500 million USD barrier this year and reach the $3.5 billion USD mark in 2023, ultimately nearing the sales of the mechanical and physical components of cars
In the memory industry, which has close ties with the Korean semiconductor industry, Feldhan predicted that the ASP of DRAM and NAND flash memories will decrease 11%, 6% (respectively) compared to last year. According to Semico Research, the ASP growth of DRAMs in 2017 and 2018 was 81%, 36% respectively. During the same time, NAND Flash increased 45% (2017) and 16% (2018). Feldhan added that the shipment by Chinese memory companies will have an impact on the ASP after 2020.
Semico Research also found out that the sales of the entire semiconductor industry had also increased greatly in 2017 and 2018, along with the huge ASP increase in the memory industry. While the overall sales of semiconductor industries will slightly increase this year and next year despite the drop in sales of memory due to the decrease of ASP, it is predicted that the sales of the entire semiconductor industry will increase significantly from 2021 due to the increase in sales of the memory industry.