Mighty Japan Endures as Leader

After the devastating natural disaster in March, Japan’s semiconductor industry has once again proven that it can overcome disaster and recover quickly.


By Christian Gregor Dieseldorff

After the devastating natural disaster in March, Japan’s semiconductor industry has once again proven that it can overcome disaster and recover quickly. Japan is home to a large number of semiconductor companies and has the largest share of total installed fab capacity. In addition, fabs in Japan lead in cutting-edge technology such as 24nm and 19nm NAND Flash.

Japan houses the world’s two largest fabs, Flash Alliance’s Fab 4 and Fab 5 in Yokkaichi, reportedly designed for installed capacity of up to 220,000 and 240,000 wafers per month (300mm equivalents) (see figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1

Japan’s technology advancement and capacity ramp can be attributed to Toshiba, its largest semiconductor manufacturer, and the world’s second largest supplier of NAND Flash chips. The Toshiba and SanDisk (U.S. based) alliance has started to ramp its 24nm process technology and will soon implement 19nm process technology. This will be one of the world’s smallest process technologies in production.

For many years, Japan has led the industry in overall installed capacity. Figure 2 shows share of installed capacity by region (To simplify; only regions with 15% share or more are shown). Japan’s capacity share peaked in 2009 and has declined due to the closure of 17 fabs in the period from 2009-2011 and because other regions have added more capacity. Still, Japan remains ranked number one in overall fab capacity share.

Figure 2

Figure 2

In the 300mm fab segment, Europe had the first pilot line with a Siemens/Motorola joint venture back in 1999. Just a couple of years later, Japan was among the first to enter 300mm volume manufacturing. While the U.S., Taiwan and Korea ramped up 300 mm capacity in 2002, Japan caught up quickly, and is now the #3 region (following Taiwan and Korea) in 300mm fab capacity.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Japan shares second place with North America for operating 300mm volume fabs (with 14 fabs), while Taiwan leads the world with 21 fabs. As mentioned above, Japan operates the largest 300mm fabs in the world.

Back in 1998, many Japanese chip makers made a sudden, unified move to leave the DRAM market due to falling prices and market volatility. From that time through about 2008, the country’s 5-inch and 6-inch wafer fabs revived, and 8-inch fabs increased their ramp. It is not surprising to see that most of the 300mm volume fabs in Japan (10 fabs) are dedicated for Logic chips and only four for Memory, (mainly NAND).

Worldwide, Japan is the region with the greatest ongoing number of fabs in volume manufacturing. Even including Discretes fabs, Japan is the leading region as of October 2011 in number of volume manufacturing fabs (see figure 4).


Figure 4

Figure 4

“The land of the rising sun” has led the industry for decades. There is no doubt that Japan will be one of the leaders in process technologies below 19nm. At the dawn of the 450mm era, it remains to be seen how Japan will enter.

SEMICON Japan will showcases the latest technologies for Japan industry

Japan semiconductor industry is expected to lead in sub 20nm process and other leading-edge technologies and calls for further innovations in process equipment and materials. At SEMICON Japan 2011 (December 7 to 9), 900 companies from the global semiconductor supply chain will showcase their innovative products and technologies. This is the world’s largest exposition for semiconductor equipment and materials. For 35 years, it has served as the ideal opportunity to extend your connection with the Japan market and suppliers. For more information about the event, please visit www.semiconjapan.org.

SEMI’s Worldwide Dedicated Team

Since the last fab database publication in May 2011, SEMI’s worldwide dedicated analysis team has made over 330 updates on more than 250 fab facilities in the database. Fifteen new facilities have been added to the database, 10 of these LED fabs. The latest edition of the World Fab Forecast (published August 30, 2011), lists over 1,100 facilities, with more than 65 facilities starting volume production beginning next year and into the future. The next reports will be published at the end of November 2011.

The SEMI World Fab Forecast uses a bottom-up approach methodology, providing high-level summaries and graphs; and in-depth analyses of capital expenditures, capacities, technology and products by fab. Additionally, the database provides forecasts for the next 18 months by quarter. These tools are invaluable for understanding how the semiconductor manufacturing will look in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and learning more about capex for construction projects, fab equipping, technology levels, and products.

Also check out the New Opto/LED Fab Forecast!

Learn more about the SEMI fab databases at: http://www.semi.org/MarketInfo/FabDatabase and http://www.youtube.com/user/SEMImktstats

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