Semiconductor fab equipment spending to hit a record in 2013

March 6, 2012 — Semiconductor fab equipment spending will remain flat (0% increase) in 2012, shows SEMI’s World Fab Forecast report. But look for a record spend from semiconductor makers in 2013, jumping from $38.85 billion spent in 2012 to $45 billion in 2013.

Eight companies, including Samsung and Intel, will keep their fab equipment spending level above $2 billion in 2012. Key spenders increased their 2012 capex budgets, pushing SEMI’s year forecast from negative to flat. Samsung plans to spend at least $41.4 billion overall, with a hefty amount going to capex; Hynix increased spending in 2012 by 23% ($3.75 billion planned); UMC increased spending from to $2.0 billion; Intel increased spending to a historic high of about $12.5 billion.

If macroeconomic factors improve and other companies adjust their capex plans as well, then equipment spending for 2012 could cross into positive territory.

Table. Fab equipment spending (new and used). Figures in US$ Million. Source: SEMI World Fab Forecast February 28, 2012 edition.
  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Semis, discretes, and LED $25,960 $14,446 $33,568 $38,965 $38,850 $45,498
Change % -32% -44% 132% 23% 0% 17%
300mm only $22,473 $12,031 $26,058 $29,986 $34,270 $40,580
Change % -28% -46% 117% 15% 14% 18%

Spending will rise in 2013, especially from Foundry, System LSI, MPU and NAND sectors. The trend is toward fab upgrades to manufacturing leading-edge semiconductors, while a few are also ramping up fab capacity. Coming out of the downturn from 2010 on, yearly capacity growth is 5-10%, remaining low for the foreseeable future. However, SEMI’s fab data shows rapid increases in fab equipment spending for some segments, leading also to an increase in installed capacity. SEMI expects 192 semiconductor manufacturing facilities will invest in equipment in 2012 (latest World Fab Forecast, February 28, 2012).

While installed capacity for DRAM is expected to level out, Flash capacity is growing rapidly between 2010 and 2013. The dedicated foundry sector will also undergo growth in installed capacity with the key contributors like TSMC, Globalfoundries and UMC.

2011 was a strong year for fab construction, with a 24% increase over a decent 2010 to $6.4 billion. This area will fall off in 2012, with a decline of about 28% to $4.5 billion. Data of the World Fab Forecast show an even further decline in 2013.
 
Lower construction spending compared to recent years, especially on new fabs, raises some concern about available capacity beyond 2013. Overall, the industry has tried to control installed capacity since coming out of the 2009 downturn. Now due to increasing demand, some segments, such as Flash, Foundry, and System LSI, are experiencing a boost in installed capacity.

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. 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. The recently released SEMI Fab database report enables data analysis by technology node, product type, region, company and fab by fab. Access the report at www.semi.org.

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