For most of the past 15 years, the industry has displayed a fairly predictable pattern of fab equipment spending, characterized generally by two years of decline followed by two years of positive growth. In 2012 and 2013, the fab equipment market contracted, while 2014 and 2015 are expected to be positive. According to the SEMI World Fab Forecast, the 2014 wafer fab equipment market is expected to grow over 28% to $32.2 billion. Taiwan will lead in spending (over US$9 billion), while Korea and the Americas will each spend at least $6 billion, and China and Japan will each spend about $4 billion. Spending for packaging and test equipment will also rebound in 2014 to $2.5 billion (4.2% growth over 2013) and $2.95 billion (5% growth) respectively. Spending on semiconductor materials will mirror semiconductors unit growth reaching an estimated $45 billion (2.5% growth)
In terms of construction, across the industry, there were 40 major projects on-going in 2013, and 28 are predicted for 2014. Construction spending growth for 2013 was about 40% (to $7.5 billion). By 2014, this will drop by 15% (to $6.4 billion). Several large construction projects are already underway or expected to start soon, but construction spending is expected to decline in both years. The two industry segments predicted to add the most capacity, based on demand, are foundries and NAND. Other segments, such as DRAM, analog, and logic, are not expected to add new capacity. MPUs may add some new capacity this year.
The coming year may add more clarity to uncertain technology roadmaps. The economics of technology nodes are increasingly dependent on the continued source power and throughput improvements on EUV lithography. These uncertainties, including the roll-out of 450mm wafer processing, have impacted plans and schedules for high-volume production. Penetration of 2.5D and 3D stacked ICs into high-volume applications are also dependent on continued process technology improvements. New materials and process innovations will continue to unfold in non-planar transistor architectures, and new test methodologies and flows will develop to meet the needs of leading-edge devices, including 3D stacked devices.
With increasing economic and technological uncertainty, the industry will continue to develop and evolve methods for more effective collaboration and expanded public-private partnerships. In addition to tighter supply chain engagement on next generation nodes, 450mm wafer processing and 3D-IC, both the European Union with its 10/100/20 program, and the U.S. Government, through the National Network Manufacturing initiative, will offer increased visibility and support for microelectronics manufacturing in the coming year.