The wave of 5G replacement is still calm, but the two giants are “just” up front

5G is like a gleaming gold mine, attracting all walks of life to enter the layout, but on the mobile phone chip side, there are not many new faces, and the veterans such as Qualcomm and MediaTek are still the most active.

MediaTek’s latest high-end 5G SoC “Dimensity 900” adopts TSMC’s 6nm process, 8-core CPU architecture, supports 5G sub-6GHz full frequency band and 5G dual carrier aggregation (CA) technology, and integrates 2×2 MIMO specification Wi-Fi 6 connect. Mobile phones equipped with Dimensity 900 are expected to be available in the second half of 2021.

Qualcomm’s new-generation Snapdragon 778G adopts TSMC’s 6-nanometer process and supports both millimeter wave (mmWave) and sub-6GHz 5G frequency bands. It is mainly aimed at the mid-to-high-end Android mobile phone market. New products will be released in the coming months.

In addition to mobile phone chips, Qualcomm also released its first 5G baseband chip optimized for the Internet of Things (IoT) a month ago, which will help drive innovation in many industrial use cases, from retail to automated factories to precision agriculture. According to the introduction, Qualcomm’s 315 5G IoT modem RF system is an all-round data machine-to-antenna solution that builds upgradable LTE and 5G devices for IoT vertical industries and accelerates IoT 5G networking.

Qualcomm and MediaTek are running ahead, and there are also many chasing troops behind

Compared with MediaTek and Qualcomm’s continuous development of 5G chips, although Apple (Apple) is expected to upgrade the baseband chip in the iPhone 13 (tentative name), and more than 50% of shipments will support millimeter wave technology, some analysts said that the iPhone is the most It will not be until 2023 that the self-developed 5G baseband chip will be used, which supports both sub-6GHz and millimeter wave frequency bands.

In fact, since the acquisition of Intel’s baseband chip business in July 2019, it was not until December 2020 that Apple officially announced that it would start its own research and development of data machine chips, and plans to invest 1 billion euros in the next three years, including setting up in Munich, Germany. The European chip design center develops mobile communication wireless technologies including 5G. As far as Apple’s plan is concerned, the launch of its own 5G baseband chip in 2023 is basically in line with market expectations.

Although the baseband chip business was sold to Apple, Intel has not given up on the field of mobile communications, and recently announced that it will work with MediaTek to create the first 5G product of the “Intel 5G Solution 5000”, focusing on the 5G networking NB market. However, the platform currently only supports the sub-6GHz frequency band, including Acer, Asus, Hewlett-Packard (HP), etc. will launch 5G networking NBs using the Intel 5G Solution 5000 platform within this year.

DIGITIMES quoted Taiwanese IC designers as saying that entry-level 5G mobile phone chips are expected to be mastered by Chinese chip suppliers, including UNISOC, Oppo, Xiaomi and other chip departments, all of which are scheduled to launch a new generation of sub-6GHz chips at the earliest in early 2022. 5G chip solutions.

Among them, Ziguang Zhanrui released the first 5G baseband chip V510 in 2019, and then launched two 5G SoC products, T740 and T770, which were later renamed in 2020. The T770 adopts a 6-nanometer process, and the first batch is expected to be equipped with the T770. The 5G mobile phone will be mass-produced in July.

At present, the chip divisions of Oppo and Xiaomi are still in the early stage of research and development, and they focus on the R&D strategy of application processor (AP) priority, so no products have come out yet; however, Oppo and Xiaomi have vigorously recruited chip design talents in the past year, successfully attracting China Shipping A large number of engineers from Si semiconductor have left the company to accelerate the research and development schedule. It is expected that its own 5G chip solution will be officially released at the end of 2021 and early 2022 at the earliest.

According to the latest report of the Global Mobile Equipment Suppliers Association (GSA), as of May 2021, a total of 35 sets of commercial 5G mobile processors/platforms and 14 sets of commercial 5G discrete modem chips have been identified. In addition, 5 sets of pre-commercial 5G baseband chips and 4 sets of pre-commercial 5G processors/platforms were also identified.

Qualcomm and MediaTek’s market share increased during the year, while Samsung stagnated

MediaTek CEO Cai Lixing previously estimated that global 5G mobile phone shipments will exceed 500 million units in 2021, and 5G SoC shipments will be higher than 4G SoC shipments for the first time. This data is similar to DIGITIMES Research’s estimate that global 5G mobile phone shipments in 2021 will be in the range of 500 million to 530 million units.

Counterpoint Research expects that the global market share of 5G mobile phone AP/SoC, including MediaTek and Qualcomm, will further expand in 2021. Among them, Qualcomm’s market share is expected to increase from 28% in 2020 to 30% in 2021, maintaining its leading position in the market; Apple is expected to grow from 25% to 29% in second place; MediaTek’s market share is expected to increase from 2020 to 29%. 15% has grown significantly to 28%, not only securing the third position, but also entering the leading position.

At a time when the above-mentioned major suppliers are expected to drive market share growth due to the rapid growth of 5G chip demand, Samsung Electronics’ market share will stagnate, and it is expected to maintain its 10% share in 2020. The Counterpoint Research report pointed out that Samsung is struggling in the 5G baseband chip market, including the attacks of Taiwan and the United States in the 5G device market, coupled with the slowdown in the growth of its own mobile phone sales.

In contrast, the market share of HiSilicon in China is expected to remain as high as 22% in 2020, shrinking sharply to only single digits in 2021. As a subsidiary, HiSilicon can be said to be a success or failure to Huawei, because up to 90% of its output is sold to Huawei, and it has also become popular due to the hot sales of Huawei mobile phones; but with the continuous escalation of US sanctions, Huawei’s mobile phone business is almost difficult to achieve As a successor, Haisi also suffered from Chiyu.

In terms of Qualcomm, benefiting from a wide range of products, from the Snapdragon 4 series to the 8 series, it covers low, medium and high-end products, and will further expand its market share to 30% in 2021. MediaTek, on the other hand, relies on a cost-effective 5G product portfolio, and with TSMC as the backing, its share of the 5G AP/SoC market will nearly double in 2020.

Factors such as chip shortages have led to a decline in mobile phone shipments, which may affect 5G chip shipments

At present, the world is in a crisis of chip supply shortage, not only in the consumer electronics field, but also in the field of automotive chips, white goods and other comprehensive shortages of “chips”, forcing many industries to lower their output and sales targets, including mobile phone shipments. According to the analysis, there are three major factors that will affect the decline in global mobile phone shipments in 2021.

First, a series of events made the already tight semiconductor supply even more stretched, including the strong earthquake off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, Japan in February, which affected the operation of the Renesas Naka fab in Ibaraki Prefecture; and the Texas blizzard caused regional blackouts. , forcing Samsung, NXP, Infineon and other fabs in Austin to suspend production. Although the subsequent resumption of work, it has caused a deferred effect on supply.

In addition, Huawei’s previous rush to stock up in response to the shortage of goods in the United States, and the surge in demand for PCs, tablets, game consoles and other home economies caused by home work and learning due to the epidemic, caused the market to exceed supply.

The recent outbreak of the epidemic in the Indian market is expected to have a certain degree of impact on both the supply and demand of mobile phones. At present, India is the second largest mobile phone manufacturer after China. Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and even Apple have set up OEM assembly plants in the country. At the same time, India is also a major mobile phone consumer. Under the raging epidemic, it is expected that the overall consumption level will decline, which will further impact mobile phone shipments.

In fact, Taiwan, an important semiconductor base, has been in a series of situations recently, including water shortages, power shortages, and rising epidemics. Many analysts also believe that it may pose a threat to the supply of semiconductor chips.

Finally, the current global 5G deployment is still in the early stage, and most countries in Western Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa still have not yet deployed 5G networks; even in countries that have commercialized 5G, there is no “killer application” enough to attract consumption. upgrade. Therefore, even though 5G commercialization has entered its third year so far, the wave of 5G replacement is still calm.

Affordable 5G mobile phones assist, 681 million 5G mobile phone shipments in 2022

With the chip shortage expected to gradually ease, the launch of a new generation of iPhones, and the launch of more affordable 5G mobile phones, ABI Research estimates that global 5G mobile phone shipments are expected to increase to 681 million units in 2022.

In addition to mobile phones, it is expected that 5G mobile networking will gradually become the standard configuration of other devices, including tablets, Chromebooks, NBs and other devices that require continuous networking, further increasing the demand for 5G chips.

According to estimates by ABI Research, sales of 5G mobile computing devices including tablets, NBs, and Ultrabooks will exceed 10 million units in 2022. This is basically in line with the forecast of DIGITIMES Research, which expects that 5G mobile phone shipments will reach 682 million units in 2022, and will officially break the 1 billion mark in 2024; however, the report predicts that the growth rate of 5G mobile phone shipments will slow down from 2022 to 2025. , with an average annual increase of 160 million to 170 million pieces.

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