Strengthening recovery: Fab equipment spending – 24% increase in 2014, possible record in 2015

After two years of decline, fab equipment spending for Front End facilities in 2014 is expected to increase 24 percent in 2014 (US$35.7 billion) and about 11 percent (US$39.5 billion).  In terms of equipment spending, 2015 may reach or even surpass historic record year 2011 (about US$39.8 billion). For the May 2014 SEMI World Fab Forecast publication, SEMI tracked more than 200 major projects involving equipment spending for new equipment or upgrades, as well as projects to build new facilities or refurbish existing facilities.   In the last three months, 265 updates were made to the database. See Figure 1.

Figure 1

Figure 1

In 2014, the three largest regions for fab equipment spending will be Taiwan with over US$10.3 billion, the Americas with over US$6.8 billion, and Korea with over US$6.3 billion.  In 2015, these same regions will lead in spending: Taiwan will spend over US$11 billion, Korea over US$8 billion, and the Americas almost US$7 billion. Although in sixth in regional equipment spending this year, the Europe/Mideast region will show the strongest rate of growth, about 79 percent compared to the previous year.  The same region will continue to grow fast in 2015, with an increase of about 20 percent.

Worldwide installed capacity is very low for both 2014 and 2015 and the SEMI data does not suggest that this will change over the next four years. Because of the increased complexity of leading-edge nodes, such as more process steps and multiple patterning, fabs experience a decline in capacity as the same fab space produces less.  Worldwide, installed capacity grew by less than 2 percent in 2013 and is expected to grow just 2.5 percent in 2014 and 3 percent in 2015.

SEMI’s detailed data predict that Foundry capacity continues to grow at 8-10 percent yearly (a steady pace since 2012) and Flash is up 3 to 4 percent for 2014. Although DRAM equipment spending is expected to grow by 40 percent in 2014 as many fabs upgrade to a leading-edge process, installed capacity for DRAM is expected to stay flat or even drop 2 percent.  SEMI’s reports also cover capacity changes for other product segments:  MPU, Logic, Analog/Mixed signal, Power, Discretes, MEMS, and LED and Opto.

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. These tools are invaluable for understanding how the semiconductor manufacturing will look in 2014 and 2015, and learning more about capex for construction projects, fab equipping, technology levels, and products.

The SEMI 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.

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