Winners And Losers

2012 unit and wafer demand are up, but if revenues continue to lag then pressure to cut manufacturing costs will rise.

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By Joanne Itow
Semiconductor revenues will log in a relatively lackluster growth for 2012, only 3% more than 2011. That is below the 4.8% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) over the past five years and well below the 8.4% CAGR over the past 10 years. On the other hand, semiconductor units continue to show healthy growth, driving up wafer demand. Units will grow slightly faster compared to the past five years and wafer demand growth is slightly higher than unit growth.

That’s the overall view. When the data is broken out into more detail, some product categories are experiencing a better year than others. Let’s go through a few of the winners and losers.

Unit Growth Rates for Semiconductor Revenue, Unit and Wafer Demand

Source: Semico Research Corp. Wafer Demand Model Sept. 2012.

Source: Semico Research Corp. Wafer Demand Model Sept. 2012.

Total MOS Logic is a mixed bag of products. Overall, the category will experience a 2.6% decline in units in 2012. But this category also includes products that will exhibit the highs and lows of the industry. Units for Wireless Communication-Cellular are expected to increase by 31.5%. Wafer demand will increase by 28.8% in 2012. That’s higher than the 10-year CAGR but not as high as the growth we’ve seen in this category over the past 5 years. The 5-year unit CAGR is 39.5% and the 5-year wafer demand CAGR is 44.1%.

MOS logic also includes Standard Cell products. This category is the biggest loser of 2012 and will experience a 25.4% decline in units in 2012. Wafer demand will see an even more severe decline of 34.3% this year.

Another product in the MOS Logic category is automotive. This product group will recover in 2012 with a 23.9% growth in units. That is much higher than the average growth over the past five years. It’s also higher than the 10-year CAGR of 11.7%.

Unit Growth Rates for MOS Logic Winners & Losers

Source: Semico Research Corp. Wafer Demand Model Sept. 2012

Source: Semico Research Corp. Wafer Demand Model Sept. 2012

With some product categories reaching record high unit sales and others shrinking, what does all this mean? Wafer demand is not growing as fast as unit demand, indicating that production efficiencies continue to improve. Several high-growth product categories such as sensors and image sensors are moving to larger-size wafers to improve productivity. But if semiconductor revenues continue to grow at a slower rate than units and wafer demand, the industry will continue to remain under pressure to reduce manufacturing costs.

For more information on all the industry winners and losers or for the complete Semico Wafer Demand data, contact Rick Vogelei at [email protected]