Chip tool demand slumps in 2Q12, though Taiwan shines


Worldwide semiconductor manufacturing equipment totaled $10.34B in 2Q12, down -4% from the previous quarter and about -13% from a year ago, according to monthly data from SEMI and SEAJ. Bookings were also down -4% sequentially, and were off by -10% year-on-year, to $9.70B.

SEMI's most recent forecast, issued at SEMICON West, calls for overall chip equipment demand to slip -2.6% in 2012 to $43.53B???and only that slightly because the two biggest end-user regions are still pushing forward, in Korea ($11.48B, +32% and Taiwan ($9.26B, +8.6%). All other regions are expected to reduce their equipment spending between -15% and -29%.

The final SEMI/SEAJ numbers for 2Q12 support that scenario, at least partially. Taiwan's demand for chip tools soared 83% in 2Q12 to $3.25B, leapfrogging the region back to the No.1 spot. Korea, meanwhile, slipped -22% Q/Q to $2.59B, a decline-rate in line with the other sluggish regions. "Korea's spending was heavily weighted in 1Q, while Taiwan's was focused on 2Q," explained Lara Chamness, senior market analyst for industry research and statistics at SEMI. Assuming Samsung and Hynix stick with their capex plans, "we would expect the second part of the year to pick up over 2Q." Nevertheless, she indicated the August version of SEMI's World Fab Forecast has adjusted equipment capex down for both Korea (subtracting $0.9B to $10.8B) and Taiwan (subtracting $0.4B to $8.5B)???"we do expect some softening for front-end spending in these regions."???J.M.

Solid State Technology | Volume 55 | Issue 8 | October | 2012