The big picture: More than 850 volume fabs in 2017

By Christian Dieseldorff and Lara Chamness, SEMI

We, in the semiconductor supply chain, are constantly immersed in detailed numbers. It’s important to pull back and look at the major trends that have profoundly changed and are reshaping our industry.

Data from SEMI World Fab Forecast reports

1997

2002

2007

2012

2017

Global Volume Fab Count
Number of Fabs WW 

682

802

849

861

864

Number of Fabs WW (excluding discrete and LED)

472

508

499

440

440

Global Volume Fabs by Wafer Size
Number of volume 200mm fabs (excluding discrete and LED)

111

170

173

152

149

Number of volume 300mm fabs (excluding discrete and LED)

0

13

62

81

109

Global Fab Capacity by Device Type
Fab Capacity (200mm equiv. thousand wafer starts per month)

5,655 

7,519 

15,441 

18,068 

20,609 

Memory

20%

19%

36%

29%

27%

Foundry

13%

19%

18%

27%

30%

MPU&Logic

35%

31%

22%

17%

16%

Analog, Discretes, MEMS & Other

32%

31%

24%

27%

26%

Largest Regional Fab Capacities
Fab Capacity Regional Trends (excluding discrete and LED)

Largest installed capacity

Japan

Japan

Japan

Japan

Taiwan

Second largest installed capacity

Americas

Americas

Taiwan

S. Korea

S. Korea

Third largest installed capacity

Europe

Europe

S. Korea

Taiwan

Japan

Source: SEMI (www.semi.org) 

The table shows that the largest increase of new fabs occurred in the time frame from 1997 to 2002 with 18 percent growth rate. The growth rate drops to 6 percent from 2002 to 2007, 1 percent from 2007 to 2012 and flat from 2012 to 2017. This drop in change rate does not mean that there are no new fabs being built but is explained by fabs closing. There are still new fabs being built ─ especially for 300mm ─ but the rate of fabs closing is overshadowing this fact. From 2007 to 2012 alone over 150 facilities closed with majority from 2008 to 2010.

With the rise of 300mm at begin of the millennium we see a rapid increase of 300mm fabs from 2002 to 2007 with 380 percent and at the same time a decrease of new 200m fabs from 50 percent to 2 percent. From 2007 to 2012 more 200mm fabs were closed but this trend is slowing. With emerging IOT demand, 200mm fabs will be part of the capacity mix for the foreseeable future.

Fueled by the fabless or “fab lite” movement, we see that the foundry era has a strong and steady growth since begin of its era in the 90s. By 2017, foundry capacity will have surpassed memory with 30 percent of the total capacity.

Both foundry and memory mainly use 300mm wafers which contribute to the large increase in capacity. The other sector MPU & Logic uses mainly 300mm but there are still fabs with wafer sizes of 200mm or less. While the Logic sector is increasing in capacity with System LSI applications, we see a decline for MPU which contributed to the decline in share.  Although we see an increase of capacity for sensors and analog/mixed signal, the sector combined as “Analog, Discretes, MEMS & Others” shows modest growth mainly because the wafer sizes used are 200mm and below which contributes to the less share of capacity.

For decades Japan was the leader in installed capacity which will have changed by 2017 when Taiwan will have taken over the highest capacity spot.  Japan is restructuring business models and approaching a more fab-lite to fabless model.  Korea is mainly driven by Samsung and is benefitting from the mobile business using memory and System LSI chips.

For more information on market data, visit www.semi.org/en/MarketInfo and attend an upcoming SEMICON: SEMICON West 2015 (July 14-16) in San Francisco, Calif; SEMICON Taiwan 2015 (September 2-4) in Taipei, Taiwan; SEMICON Europa 2015 (October 6-8) in Dresden, Germany; SEMICON Japan 2015 (December 16-18) in Tokyo, Japan.

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