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Wafer fab shut downs on the rise

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wafer fabs? IC manufacturing?

IC Insights has recently released its "Global wafer capacity 2011-2012" report, which details the current state of the industry's manufacturing sector. According to the report, 49 semiconductor wafer fabs were closed between 2009-2011.

Since mid-2007, the IC industry has been paring down its older capacity (i.e. ?200mm wafers). This decline in ?200mm wafers picked up speed in 2009 and continued through 2010 and 2011. Suppliers closed or upgraded their fabs that were manufacturing using smaller wafers and shifted operations to produce more cost-effectively on larger wafers. IC Insights also noted that a few of the fabs were being refurbished for production on larger wafers or for production of "non-IC" products.

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We will see more fabs close in the coming years as companies slowly transition to the fab-lite business model or become completely fabless, said IC Insights.

Figure 1 below shows that most of the facilities that closed from 2009 to 2011 were 150mm wafer fabs or 43% of the total fabs that were shut down. The distribution of those 49 according to wafer size are: 21 for 150mm, 13 for 200mm, 7 for 125mm, 5 for 300mm and 3 for 100mm.

Closures by wafer size

Figure 1: Wafer fab closures by wafer size, 2009-2011.

Figure 2 shows the closures by region. Japan and North America each had 17 wafer fab closures, followed by Europe with 12 and South Korea with 3, according to the report.

Closures by region

Figure 2: Wafer fab closures by region, 2009-2011.

One of the wafer fab closures in Japan was a 300mm IC fab operated by Sony. However, this fab is being retrofitted and will return to service to produce image sensors for the company. The Qimonda wafer fab in Sandston, Virginia, was the only 300mm wafer fab closed in North American during this time. At the other end of the spectrum, a total of three 100mm wafer fabs were closed in the three-year span. These included fabs owned by DALSA in Bromont, Ontario, Canada, ON Semiconductor in Piestany, Slovak Republic, and Diodes in Oldham, England.

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