Global silicon shipments in terms of square inches will rise to record levels in 2010, according to semiconductor manufacturing market research firm iSuppli.
Shipments of silicon for semiconductor manufacturing in 2010 will grow by 23.6 percent year-over-year, reaching 8.9 billion total square inches, up from 7.2 billion square inches in 2009, iSuppli forecasts. By 2014, 12.4 billion total square inches of silicon will be shipped.
However, while this is good news for filling fabs, it doesn't necessarily follow through to the average selling price (ASP) and the health of the industry. There is a fine balance between demand for silicon and production - too much silicon, low prices; too much demand and not enough siliocn - high prices.“Following the recession of late 2008 and 2009, chip manufacturers spent the first half of 2010 striving to reverse the damage they had suffered,” said Len Jelinek, director and chief analyst for semiconductor manufacturing and supply at iSuppli. “Visibility in the second half of 2010 remains limited even as the all-important holiday season inches closer. The good news is that barring any new collapse, silicon suppliers will have sufficient orders on the books to carry them through the third and fourth quarters. And while growth in 2011 won’t match the high expansion rate seen in 2010, iSuppli anticipates that the semiconductor industry will require additional increases in silicon shipments of about 13 percent compared to 2010 shipment rates to meet the projected development.”
Outperforming the industry
The demand for silicon in 12-inch wafers continues to rise at a rate that will outperform the industry average for silicon through 2014. In order to maintain growth, however, silicon suppliers must continue to expand 12-inch wafer manufacturing.
Beyond 2010, iSuppli expects to see a greater emphasis on shifting to even more 12-inch wafer manufacturing. Specifically, mixed signal and other technologies will be moving to 12-inch wafers as a result of older 12-inch tools no longer being cost effective for the manufacturing of leading-edge technology products.
Over the next five years, the availability of additional mature manufacturing capacity and tools will accelerate the conversion to 12-inch wafer manufacturing for products such as analog and mixed signal devices.