Revenue Soars For Semiconductor Equipment Power Subsystems

While the whole equipment critical subsystems market is seeing growth, it is particularly strong for process power and reactive gas subsystems.


Sales of process power and reactive gas subsystems for semiconductor manufacturing equipment are on track to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23% between 2016 and 2021 – far outpacing the critical subsystems industry average of 16.4% due to multiple positive factors.

Process power and reactive gas subsystems account for approximately 13% of all expenditures on critical subsystems used in semiconductor manufacturing equipment, up from 9.8% in 2016. The drivers for this exceptional growth are:

  • Increasing vacuum intensity of semiconductor manufacturing
  • Growth in the average number of RF power subsystems used per chamber
  • The trend towards higher power subsystems, which attract a higher price
  • Use of higher frequency power subsystems, which are typically more expensive

Multiple patterning and the advent of 3D NAND in high-volume manufacturing have significantly increased the number of deposition and etch processing steps. In the case of 3D NAND, longer and more difficult etch processes require a more comprehensive range of power solutions.

Interestingly, an analysis of power subsystems by tool type reveals that a clear majority of power subsystems (70%) find their way to etch tools, with only 30% used in deposition tools. This difference can be explained by the fact that more delicate etch processes can require multiple RF power solutions per tool. In contrast, deposition does not always use plasma energy sources, for example, in thermal deposition processes.

Despite the staggering growth performance of the power subsystems segment over the last five years, we expect the growth rate to moderate significantly in the run-up to 2026. Now that the transition from 2D NAND to 3D NAND is complete, we expect vacuum/plasma processing steps to grow in line with the rest of the equipment market. Also, the introduction of EUV is tapering demand for vacuum processing equipment.

However, over the long term, multiple patterning techniques will still be needed in conjunction with EUV to achieve the desired improvements in device density and performance. The future growth trend for power and reactive gas subsystems is forecast to be slightly ahead of the critical subsystems industry average (3.9%) at approximately 6.3% CAGR until 2026.

The source of this data is VLSI’s Critical Subsystems report (June 2021). For more information, please visit VLSI Research.

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