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Outlook up for ICs, equipment, says VLSI

Posted: 10 Jan 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Mark LaPedus? VLSI Research? semiconductor industry? IC? flat-panel display?

Following a flat 2005, VLSI Research Inc. predicts a positive outlook for the semiconductor industry in 2006. Semiconductor revenues are expected to increase by 8.2 percent in 2006, while equipment for ICs and flat-panel displays should grow 6 percent over 2005, according to the research firm.

According to VLSI Research, the semiconductor industry is projected to grow by 6-to-7 percent in 2005 over 2004. The semiconductor-equipment industry is projected to decline by 3-to-4 percent in 2005, according to the research firm.

Other analysts have different opinions, but VLSI Research is bullish about 2006. "The chip making industry is entering 2006 in a healthy state," according to the research firm.

"The short-term indicators, such as inventories, unrealized capacity, and utilization rates, are all pointing to a promising year for IC-making equipment," it said. "Furthermore, the technology roadmap is driving forward to 65nm production, 45nm development and new materials. For display equipment, the push towards generations 7 and 8 panel sizes is stimulating equipment demand."

There is some uncertainty, however. "While these factors augur well for a positive year, one cannot discount conditions up the supply chain," according to VLSI Research. "Concerns about the U.S. economy and its impact on the semiconductor industry loom in the horizon. Uncertainty about the Federal Reserve's monetary policy, increased credit card payments, tighter consumer credit, and volatile energy prices are all potential show-stoppers."

In 2006, worldwide chip sales are projected to hit $208 billion, up 8.2 percent over 2005, according to VLSI Research. IC units are projected to jump 8.8 percent this year, but average selling prices (ASPs) for chips are expected to fall 0.6 percent.

Front-end fab utilization is projected to average 90.3 percent in 2006, compared to 88.9 percent in the like period a year ago.

On the backend, IC-test utilization is projected to fall from 91.3 percent in 2005 to 90.3 percent in 2006. IC-assembly utilization is expected to grow from 82.5 percent in 2005 to 82.7 percent in 2006, according to the firm.

For equipment, the market is projected to reach $54.2 billion in 2006, up 6 percent over 2005, according to the research house. The figure includes both chip and flat-panel display production equipment.

For IC equipment only, the market is projected to reach $46.6 billion, up 6.1 percent over 2005, according to the research house. The wafer-fab equipment market is projected to reach $25.8 billion in 2006, up 6.9 percent over 2005, according to the research house.

The test and related equipment market is projected to hit $10.9 billion in 2006, up 4.7 percent over 2005, according to the research house. The assembly-equipment market is projected to reach $2.9 billion in 2006, up 3.6 percent over 2005.

The service and spare segment is projected to hit $7.1 billion in 2006, up 6.5 percent over 2005, according to the research house.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times




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