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Double-digit growth seen by some in ICs

Posted: 19 Feb 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:semiconductor? ic? semi korea confab? sematch?

Predictions of a strong recovery circulated through the recent SEMI Korea confab, with the president of the U.S. research consortium Sematech calling for at least 20 percent growth in semiconductors this year, to $175 billion. "That's not too different than what I've seen from some of the [forecast] services," said Bob Helms. Based on past chip cycles, Helms said he believes the industry will tip $300 billion by 2005.

Though IC Insights and Dataquest are making conservative predictions of 1 percent and 3 percent growth, respectively, other analysts are beginning to weigh in with double-digit projections. Semico analyst Sherry Garber's prediction was a 20 percent rise, to $170 billion, based on her belief that communications companies will come back to the market looking for ICs, even as new products like Microsoft's Windows XP and DVD players start to kindle demand. VLSI Research, meanwhile, expects 23 percent growth this year.

The huge gap between forecasts stems from differing opinions on the pace of inventory burn-off, the impact of excess fab capacity, consumer demand and the overall regional economies. "There are certainly some things we cannot forecast. The economy is fragile and if [it] does not hold up, we will not have that kind of growth. But as we look at it now, we certainly think we're OK," Garber said.

Even so, Helms warned that the industry must maintain its traditional ability to deliver lower cost per function in products. Historically, he said, the average reduction has been 25 percent a year. "If we stay on the cost-per-function reduction road map, our performance road maps and our power consumption road maps, there's no question we are going to see better penetration of existing markets as well as the ability to open up new markets with new killer applications," Helms said.

? Mike Clendenin

EE Times

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