Stronger 2018 Growth and Fab Plans Boost Long-Term Growth Outlook
In a recently released report the SEMI Industry Research and Statistics Group announced its projection that 200mm fabs worldwide are gearing up to add more than 600,000 wafers per month from 2017 through 2022, an 11 percent growth rate. Christian G. Dieseldorff, director of Industry Research and Statistics, projects that, “the global 200mm fab count will increase from the 2017 level of the 194 fabs to 203 by 2022.”
Figure 1 – SEMI Forecast for 200 mm Fabs and Production
200 mm Capacity Expansion is Demand Driven
Supporting the forecast from SEMI, Len Jelinek, Chief Analyst at IHS Markit, explained that, “A lot of companies are interested in adding mature (200mm capacity). Demand for mature products continues to increase. When you analyze legacy products you clearly identify the demand for these products is not decreasing.” More specifically, he explained, “One can loosely say that if a company is developing 130nm products they can run on 300mm or 200mm depending on available capacity. This implies that a lot of the mature technology, ‘More than Moore Technology’ needs to find capacity available. That capacity is 200mm wafers.”
As a specific example, it can be seen that companies like Infineon are expanding their 300mm thin wafer capacity and initiating plans to add even more capacity because the market is not slowing down and 200mm capacity is not increasing to keep up with demand. However, IHS Markit projects that the majority of 200mm announced 200 mm capacity that will come on-line in the industry in 2018 and 2019 is located at the major foundry suppliers. Within the foundry companies they estimate that as much as 75K 200mm wafers/month could enter production in 2018 with an additional 80K wafers per month coming on-line in 2019.
Jelinek notes that IDM’s are also expanding capacity however at a much more conservative rate. The reason for their inability to expand is simply currently available fab floor space. No IDM has been willing to build a new 200mm wafer fab. IHS Markit believes that 200mm expansions in 2018 will be less than 100K wafers / month.
Figure 2 – Could the industry use a significant increase in 200mm fab capacity?
Dan Tracy, an analyst at TechSearch International, notes that, “the challenge is where will the 200 mm equipment come from? There is production of new 200mm tools underway, and the modification of 300mm tools to 200mm production (and I hear some cases of 150mm tools upgraded to 200mm--though limited). Clearly there is demand for 200mm, though available equipment is limited.”
In addition, Jelinek at IHS Markit highlights that, “One key issue is equipment, specifically alignment tools. Companies like Canon, ASML and Nikon have no desire to build mature tools (200mm tools). This means that capacity expansions must use refurbished tools. SMIC in China has expresses a desire to add 150K 8-inch wafer capacity. Tool availability is critical to expansion plans. Alignment tools are difficult if not impossible to locate.”