Wafer Demand: Good to Grow in 2011

The earthquake in Japan put a damper on growth in the second quarter but the lull will be temporary.


By Joanne Itow
The foundries are ramping 32nm/28nm production but that’s only one of the reasons wafer demand is forecast to grow at above average rates this year.  MEMS and sensors will help to grow wafer demand at the ≥1000nm technology nodes.  Wafers processed at ≥1000nm technology will grow by 10.2% in 2011.  That’s on top of the 25% growth experienced in 2010.

Microcontroller units are expected to grow by just over 10% driving up the need for more silicon. And, although DRAM units are expected to grow by only 4-5%, NAND flash units will continue to grow at double digit rates.  All these are top reasons why wafer demand will grow over 10% in 2011.

Source: Semico Research

Source: Semico Research

The earthquake in Japan may have put a damper on growth in the second quarter but Semico believes the lull in automotive and other markets impacted by the quake will be temporary.  Although all production in Japan may not be brought back online by the third quarter, most companies have managed their production, foundry and supplier relationships in order to cover customer demand.  Nine months ago the Semico IPI indicated third quarter 2011 semiconductor sales would be below average; however, supply chain disruptions after the earthquake may increase worldwide semiconductor demand in Q3.  As a result production in  3rd quarter could increase by as much as 10% over 2nd quarter.

Intel remains on their two-year production/technology cadence and will already begin 22nm production this year.  While Intel introduces their 22nm product line, AMD and others are giving their 32nm/28nm production the red carpet treatment.  Although there is still lots of room for productivity improvements at these new nodes, Semico does not expect companies to run into yield issues that were encountered at the 40nm node.  While wafers processed at 40nm/45nm will grow 40.6% in 2011, the amount of silicon necessary to process semiconductors at 32nm/28nm process technology  will almost double.

All the data used to make the forecasts above were taken from the Semico Q1 2011 Wafer Demand Report.  More detailed wafer demand forecast information can be found in Semico Research’s latest release Wafer Demand Summary and Assumptions Q1’11. The quarterly publication provides annual wafer demand by product by technology from 2002-2015.  For more information click here to go to Semico Manufacturing Studies.


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