Forecast for 2013


Pete Singer, Editor-in-Chief

Nobody can predict the future, of course, but 2013 is shaping up to be a good year for the semiconductor industry and its suppliers. According to SEMI, total fab spending for equipment needed to ramp fabs, upgrade technology nodes, and expand or change wafer size could increase 16.7 percent in 2013 to reach a new record high of $42.7 billion. The estimate includes new equipment, used equipment, or in-house equipment but excludes test assembly and packaging equipment (which, if included, would bring the number up to about $50 billion). The market for semiconductor manufacturing materials, which was $48.6 billion this year, is expected to grow 4% to more than $50 billion in $2013.

There's been some hand-wringing in 2012 about continued consolidation and the number of companies that will be moving to 450mm: most pundits guess that only 5-7 companies will be able to make the move. However, that's a limited view of the industry, since there are hundreds of facilities around the world cranking out chips, LEDs, optoelectronics, power devices, MEMS and other components. The latest edition of the SEMI World Fab Forecast lists over 1,150 facilities (including 300 opto/LED facilities), with 76 facilities starting production in 2012 and in the near future.

There's sure to be much talk in 2013 about technology requirements at the leading edge, including the 450mm transition, progress in EUV, 3D integration and FinFET optimization. Sustainability will be key, with an emphasis on reducing power consumption, which means lower leakage currents and reduced Vdd.

The demand for semiconductors will never be higher, particularly as the middle class rise on dominance in places such as Brazil, Russia, India and China. First on the wish list it seems, after shelter, food and clothing, is a smart phone.

After a trip to imec in Leuven, Belgium, I'm particularly bullish on opportunities in healthcare, which range from body area sensor networks to amazingly advanced labs-on-a-chip that can screen 20 million blood cells per second to find a single tumor cell in 5 billion blood cells. It is these kinds of applications that could lead to a new revolution in how electronics are designed and manufactured.

Solid State Technology | Volume 55 | Issue 9 | November 2012