Record fab spending for 2017 and 2018

The latest update to the World Fab Forecast report, published on May 31, 2017 by SEMI, reveals record spending for fab construction and fab equipment. Korea, Taiwan, and China all see large investments, and spending in Europe will also increase significantly. In 2017, over US$49 billion will be spent on equipment alone, a record for the semiconductor industry.  Spending on new fab construction is projected to reach over $8 billion, the second largest year on record.  Records will shatter again in 2018, when equipment spending will pass $54 billion, and new fab construction spending is forecast at an all-time high of $10 billion. See Figure.

Figure 1

Figure 1

SEMI reports that these unprecedented high numbers are not only driven by a handful of well-known, established companies, but also by several new Chinese companies entering the scene with large budgets. An increase in overall fab spending (construction and equipment together) of 54 percent year-over-year (YoY) in China is expected.  Total spending rises from $3.5 billion in 2016 to $5.4 billion in 2017, and then to $8.6 billion in 2018, another 60 percent year-over-year (YoY).

Some of these China-based companies are well known, such as Hua Li Microelectronics or SMIC (top investors in 2017 and 2018), though newcomers in the arena, including Yangtze Memory Technology, Fujian Jin Hua Semiconductor, Tsinghua Unigroup, Tacoma Semiconductor, and Hefei Chang Xin Memory, add to the spending surge.

The SEMI World Fab Forecast breaks down fab equipment spending by region. Korea leads both years of our forecast period, with spending of $14.6 billion in 2017 and $15.1 billion in 2018.  In 2017, Taiwan is projected to be the second largest spending region on equipment, but China will take over second place in 2018 as it equips the many new fabs being built in 2016 and 2017.  Americas is in fourth place, projected to spend $5.2 billion in 2017 and $5.5 billion in 2018.  Japan will come in fifth, spending $5.1 billion in 2017 and $5.3 billion in 2018.  Although the Europe/Mideast region is in sixth place with relatively modest investments of $3.8 billion in 2017, this represents remarkable growth for the region, 71 percent more than in 2016; and the region will bump spending another 20 percent in 2018 (to $4.6 billion).

This exciting growth cycle could continue well beyond 2018.  Record fab construction spending of $10 billion for 2018 means new fabs will need to be equipped at least a year down the road, leading to high expectations for good business beyond the current two-year forecast period.

Since the last publication on February 28, the SEMI Industry Research & Statistics team has made 279 changes on 244 facilities/lines. In that time frame, 24 new facilities were added and 4 fab projects were closed.

For insight into semiconductor manufacturing in 2017 and 2018 with details about capex for construction projects, fab equipping, technology levels, and products, visit the SEMI Fab Database webpage and order the SEMI World Fab Forecast Report. The report, in Excel format, tracks spending and capacities for over 1,100 facilities including over 60 future facilities, across industry segments from Analog, Power, Logic, MPU, Memory, and Foundry to MEMS and LEDs facilities.

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