By Jeff Dorsch
The worldwide semiconductor capital equipment market is forecast to increase 20.8 percent this year to $38.44 billion, compared with 2013’s $31.82 billion, and another 10.8 percent in 2015 to $42.6 billion, according to Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International.
Also on Monday, the Semiconductor Industry Association reported that global sales of semiconductors were $26.86 billion in May, an 8.8 percent increase from a year earlier and a 2 percent improvement from April of this year.
Jonathan Davis, SEMI’s global vice president of advocacy, said Monday that the semiconductor industry is seen growing 5 percent to 10 percent in 2014, and noted that all world regions posted growth in sales during May, a statistical factor not recorded since August 2010.
Discussing expenditures on capital equipment, Davis said, “The nature of the spending is changing.” The number of new wafer fabs has dwindled in recent years, and more spending is directed these days to upgrading existing fabs.
2015 promises to be the biggest year for semiconductor equipment spending since 2000, Davis said. While the equipment market is growing more than 20 percent this year, the semiconductor materials market will see more modest growth in 2014, at 6 percent, he added.
Karen Savala, the president of SEMI Americas, reviewed economic and technology trends in the equipment and materials business during Monday’s SEMI press conference. The industry has gone through “one of the largest consolidation periods in our history,” including the pending blockbuster merger between Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TEL), she noted.
The longstanding economics of Moore’s Law is being challenged, she added. The Internet of Things is a tremendous opportunity for the chip-making business, yet it doesn’t involve leading-edge technology, Savala said. “Traditional node scaling seems to be slowing,” she observed. Scaling is apparently decelerating below the 32-nanometer process node, according to Savala, but it may be advanced with the introduction of new materials, new substrates, and 2.5D/3D packaging.
“The ecosystem is changing,” Savala said.
SEMI now forecasts that wafer processing equipment will grow 22.7 percent in 2014 to $31.12 billion, from $25.36 billion in 2013, and advance 11.9 percent more in 2015 to $34.81 billion. Test equipment is expected to see a 12.5 percent increase this year to $3.06 billion and pick up by 1.6 percent next year to $3.11 billion. Assembly and packaging equipment is forecast to reach $2.52 billion in 2014, an 8.6 percent improvement from last year, and growing 1.2% in 2015 to $2.55 billion. Other equipment categories will be up 22.5 percent this year to $1.74 billion and up 21.8 percent next year to $2.12 billion.
All global regions except one, the rest of the world, are forecast to post increased sales in 2014, according to SEMI. Taiwan will remain the largest region with $11.57 billion in equipment sales this year, up 11.57 percent from 2013, while higher growth rates will be seen in China, North America, South Korea, Japan, and Europe. All regions are expected to show growth in 2015, ranging from 1.6 percent in China up to 47.8 percent in Europe.