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Taiwan leapfrogs S. Korea as fab capacity leader

Posted: 02 Mar 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IC Insights? semiconductor? fab capacity? Samsung? DRAM?

Taiwan surpassed South Korea in 2015 as the global leader in semiconductor fab capacity, according to the latest report from IC Insights. The market research firm added that Taiwan accounted for 21.7 per cent of total capacity, edging out South Korea at 20.5 per cent.

The portion of fab capacity in Asia, North America and Europe has dropped slightly while the rest of the world (ROW) region, primarily including Singapore, Israel and Malaysia, showed a small gain, according to an IC Insights report a year ago. Asia, including Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and China, had 69.2 per cent of total capacity in 2015, compared with 69.7 per cent in 2014. During the same period, North America came in at 14.2 per cent, down a tad from 14.4 per cent in 2014. Europe held steady at 6.4 per cent during both years. The ROW region edged up to 10.2 per cent from 9.6 per cent.

Despite China's aim to expand its domestic chip making industry, the nation's portion of overall capacity dropped in 2015 to 9.7 per cent from 10.9 per cent a year earlier, according to IC Insights. China assembles most of the world's electronic products such as iPhones and iPads, yet imports most of the semiconductors it uses to make the gadgets.

Last year was probably a time that most people in the chip business would rather forget. Global sales fell as electronics companies wrestled with an inventory correction that started during 2H15. As sales growth slumped, a wave of mergers swept through the industry.

Wafer capacity

Figure 1: IC Insights said Taiwan beat South Korea in 2015 as the global leader in semiconductor fab capacity with Taiwan accounting for 21.7 per cent of total capacity, edging out South Korea at 20.5 per cent.

In another report by IC Insights titled 'Global Wafer Capacity 2016-2020 report,' as of December 2015, Samsung had the most installed wafer capacity with 2.5 million 200mm-equivalent wafers per month, which represented 15.5 per cent of the world' total capacity with most of it used for the fabrication of DRAM and flash memory devices. Second in line was the largest pure-play foundry in the world TSMC with about 1.9 million wafers per month capacity, or 11.6 per cent of total worldwide capacity.

Micron substantially increased its available capacity in recent years primarily through acquiring existing capacity from others. With the addition of the Elpida and Rexchip fabs as well as the extra Inotera capacity, Micron first became the third-largest wafer capacity holder in the world in 2013. Micron had the sixth-largest amount of wafer capacity in 2012, and in the beginning of that year the company acquired Intel's stake in two IM Flash Technologies fabs, giving Micron access to all the capacity from those fabs.

- Alan Patterson
??EE Times

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