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SIA releases fab capacity report for the last time

Posted: 05 Mar 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:chip fab? capacity utilization? market research?

Industry reports are only as good as the proportion of the representation it stands for. Looking at the current state of membership of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), future reports couldn't be helped but be viewed only with a skeptical eye, if not partial. That's probably the reason why the association has made the decision of refraining from releasing any more publication of its quarterly on chip fab capacity utilization. This is a day after Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. withdrew from another program that collects and reports data on chip sales on a monthly basis.

The SIA issued its Semiconductor International Capacity Statistics (SICAS) report for 4Q11 that included a notification that "due to significant changes in the SICAS program participation base in 2011, the quarterly SICAS capacity and utilization report will be discontinued, effective quarter 1 2012."

Last year, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd (TSMC), United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) and Nanya Technology Corp. terminated participation in the SICAs program, causing an outcry. At the time, the SIA said it was working to get TSMC to rejoin the program. None of the Taiwan firms were listed among the participants on the issued report.

At the time that the companies withdrew from the program, Bill McClean, president of market research firm IC Insights Inc., speculated that because TSMC and UMC represent such a huge portion of the world's foundry capacity, they no longer wanted such detailed information on their manufacturing published each quarter.

Like all companies traded publicly in Taiwan, TSMC and UMC issue monthly reports on sales. Both also typically disclose their capacity utilization rates in some detail in quarterly financial reports.

AMD, Intel exit WSTS
Intel and AMD have recently confirmed that they had ceased participating in the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) program. Spokespersons from both companies said the firms had concluded that participation was no longer of value to them.

A spokeswoman for TSMC said in an email exchange with EE Times Wednesday that TSMC considers detailed capacity informationsuch as by node and type of technologyto be trade secrets and thus stopped providing it for the SICAS report. The spokeswoman noted that TSMC still provides general information about overall capacity utilization by fab and by quarter when it reports its quarterly results.

A spokesman for UMC, also reached via email, said UMC pulled out of SICAs after TSMC did. "We would be the only Taiwan merchant foundry remaining in the survey. The results would have reflected a data pool of one."

The SIA could not be reached for comment.

According to McClean, the SICAs report now reflects only about 57 percent of the world's semiconductor manufacturing capacity installed base, down from 70 percent before the Taiwan companies withdrew and 88 percent when the SIA first started publishing the report in the 1990s.

The SICAs report issued by the SIA said overall capacity utilization rate in the semiconductor industry slipped to 86.2 percent in 4Q11, down from 90.6 percent in Q3 and 92.9 percent in 4Q10. Overall industry capacity grew to 2.04 million wafer starts per week, up about two percent from Q3.

- Dylan McGrath
??EE Times





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