SEMI revises fab capex forecast down, still record year

September 7, 2011 — Noting caution in the markets, SEMI has revised its World Fab Forecast to a 23% year-on-year increase, down from the 31% growth forecast in May 2011. Capital expenditure on semiconductor fabs will still increase to $41.1 billion in 2011, the highest spending amount on record.

As macro-economic factors decreased consumer confidence and spending, some semiconductor companies have cut back on fab spending plans, said Christian Gregor Dieseldorff, senior analyst of fab information in the SEMI Industry Research and Statistics group. For a number of companies, capex plans remain unchanged. Some even announced slight increases, SEMI notes.

The Americas lead fab spending, thanks mainly to Intel and Samsung. LED fabs account for 77 of the 223 projects in 2011.

Also read: Semi LED fab capacity: Cause for concern, says Dieseldorff, SEMI

Although 2012 spending will decline, the total for 2012 may still be the second highest on record. In 2012, Korea is predicted to step ahead of the Americas, with over $10 billion in fab equipment spending, followed by Taiwan at $9.2 billion.

Table. Fab equipment spending, new and used (in USD millions). Source: SEMI World Fab Forecast August 2011.
  2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
With discretes 38042 25691 14350 33294 41123 39959
Percent change   -32 -44 132 23 -3
Without discretes 36736 24752 13303 30750 38253 36763
Percent change   -33 -46 131 24 -4
300mm only 31225 22463 12021 26323 24601 33960
Percent change   -28 -46 119 31 -2

In 2011, SEMI counts 223 facilities spending on equipment. Of these, 77 projects are for LED dedicated facilities. Next year, 190 facilities will start or continue equipping, with 72 LED projects.

The highest spending in 2011 occurs in the Americas with about $10 billion, followed by Taiwan with about $9 billion. The Americas region last led spending in 2002. Although Intel spends the most, another key reason for America’s lead is Samsung’s spending of about $2.5 to $3 billion in their Austin fab, dubbed the S2-line.

In line with the revised forecast, capacity ramp will slow: 9.3% growth (predicted in May 2011) is now forecast to be closer to 6.8%, according to the SEMI World Fab Forecast report. The industry may not be able to respond to rapidly increasing demand, for example in the NAND Flash market. It takes about 1.5 years to bring a fab from ground breaking to volume production, so in order to see capacity ramp increase in 2012 or 2013, construction projects must start now.

The SEMI data closely track construction activity, especially for new facilities. Since the May 2011 edition of the Worldwide Fab Forecast, 2011 fab construction project spending (including Discretes and LEDs) has increased from about $4.8 billion to $5.6 billion. In May 2011, 61 construction projects were counted; now, 72 are under way.

The SEMI World Fab Forecast uses a bottom-up approach methodology, providing high-level summaries and graphs; and in-depth analyses of capital expenditures, capacities, technology and products by fab. Additionally, the database provides forecasts for the next 18 months by quarter. Learn more about the SEMI fab databases at http://www.semi.org/MarketInfo/FabDatabase.

SEMI’s Worldwide Semiconductor Equipment Market Subscription (WWSEMS) data tracks only new equipment for fabs and test and assembly and packaging houses. The SEMI World Fab Forecast and its related Fab Database reports track any equipment needed to ramp fabs, upgrade technology nodes, and expand or change wafer size, including new equipment, used equipment, or in-house equipment. SEMI is a global industry association serving the manufacturing supply chains for the microelectronic, display and photovoltaic industries. For more information, visit www.semi.org.

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