Wafer Demand Grows Despite Supply Chain Jitters

Semiconductor revenue growth broke records in 2010 increasing almost 32% over 2009. Units grew an equally impressive 25% forcing manufacturers to increase productivity and ramp up additional capacity as quickly as possible.

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By Joanne Itow
Semiconductor revenue growth broke records in 2010 increasing almost 32% over 2009.  Units grew an equally impressive 25% forcing manufacturers to increase productivity and ramp up additional capacity as quickly as possible.

Increased use of leading edge process technology was evident as products processed at 45nm and smaller grew to 16.8% of the total silicon demand in 2010.  That compares to only 9.4% in 2009.  As NAND and MPU ramped up 3Xnm production, computing peripherals,  communications and embedded mobile devices increased demand for 45nm/40nm capacity.

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Wafer demand for mature technologies grew an impressive 19%.    Discrete units grew a record breaking 28% in 2010 and analog products grew an even faster 32%.  Products in these categories are beginning to take advantage of efficiency gains through transitions to larger wafer sizes.

So what’s in store for 2011?  Every week rumors about inventories growing and memory prices dropping are making many companies tentative about the future.  Growth rates for semiconductor units and wafer demand will be above average in 2011.  But don’t expect rates to be in the twenty percent range.  Semico forecasts unit and wafer demand growth rates to be in the low teens versus the twenty percent range.

All eyes will be on the foundries as they begin to roll out their 32nm/28nm HKMG products.  Intel will maintain their advanced technology leadership position as they roll out their 3rd generation HKMG product line on 22nm.

Many manufacturers will continue to focus attention on the MEMS market. The attention is well-deserved.  Products such as sensors and actuators grew almost 40% in 2010.  Accelerometers increased by over 50% and pressure sensors more than doubled.  Even with such impressive growth expectations, Semico believes capacity will be able to keep up with unit demand.  Production efficiencies, such as the move from 150mm to 200mm wafers, will help avoid any capacity shortages.

More details on the Semico wafer demand forecast for 2011 are available at www.semico.com/studies/.