SEMI, a leading semiconductor trade organization, forecasted in a report released Wednesday that the semiconductor materials market will closely resemble growth in the IC device market moving forward, which they expect will increase 1 percent in 2013 and 7 percent increase in 2014, lifting the overall market to $50 billion by the end of that year.
Japan has traditionally been the largest semiconductor materials consumer globally due to its significant microchip fab and IC packaging plant base. Since the global semiconductor downturn in 2009, manufacturers in Japan and other countries rapidly adopted a fab-lite strategy, leading to much consolidation across the industry. Simultaneously, more microchip fab and packaging operations shifted to Taiwan and new facilities were built as a result by companies such as ASE Group and TSMC.
During the recession of 2009, the semiconductor materials market shrunk 22 percent in Japan, while falling only 12 percent in Taiwan. Thereafter, the Taiwanese market surged ahead of Japan to become the largest geographic region globally in semiconductor materials consumption revenues. Over the next two years, this trend will likely continue as TSMC obtains more of the next-generation processor load from Apple over Samsung, while other geographic regions are expected to outpace Japanese materials consumption, as its semiconductor industry loses out to emerging markets such as China and Singapore. Future materials growth will be increasingly driven by growth for overall semiconductor equipment associated with advanced microchips for high-end, lower power consumption mobile devices, which is the most profitable end-market for the supply chain.
Nonetheless, Japan still accounts for about 22 percent of global IC fab plant capacity, followed by South Korea with 21 percent, Taiwan with 19 percent and North America at 15 percent, according to SEMI. These numbers follow a similar trend for wafer fab materials market share as well. Furthermore, SEMI announced today its annual silicon shipment forecast for the semiconductor industry. The results show polished and epitaxial silicon shipments totaling 8,876 million square inches in 2013; 9,230 million square inches in 2014; and 9,684 million square inches in 2015. Total wafer shipments are expected to remain below the all-time high set in 2010 with flat growth this year but hit record levels in 2014 and 2015 with 4 and 5 percent growth, respectively. Moreover, these years are expected to be high-growth years for semiconductor capital equipment also showing between 13 and 14 percent growth, according to Gartner, driven by pent-up demand and advanced node sizes down to 10nm.
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