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Foundry sales slows down

Posted: 14 Apr 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:foundry sales? semiconductor? semicon? semicon industry?

Market research firm Gartner Inc. reported that the semiconductor foundry sales in 2015 moved at a snail's pace, amidst a decline in overall semiconductor sales.

The total foundry sales in 2015 amounted to $48.8 billion, an increase of just 4.4% over 2014. The cumulative growth of foundry sales were made possible by the high wafer demand from Apple Inc, as well as the revenue from a integrated device manufacturers that required foundry work, according to Gartner.

Foundry sales had grown consistently by double-digit percentages in the years leading up to last year, according to Gartner. In 2014, the foundry market grew by 16%.

Gartner estimates that total semiconductor sales declined by 2.3% in 2015 to settle at $334.8 billion. The firm attributes the decline to excess IC inventory, poor demand for mobile products and PCs and slowing tablet sales.

"The slowdown in the device market has driven semiconductor producers to be conservative in placing wafer orders to foundries," said Samuel Wang, research vice president at Gartner, in a statement.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC), far and away the largest foundry player, grew sales by 5.5% last year due to the success of 20nm planar and 16nm FinFET technologies used for leading-edge application processors and baseband chips, Gartner said.

Top foundries

Figure 1: Top 10 foundries by revenue. (Source: Gartner)

U.S.-based foundry Globalfoundries leapfrogged rival United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) and reclaim the No. 2 position in foundry sales in 2015, Gartner said. Globalfoundries (Sunnyvale, Calif.) captured some 9.6% of the market, compared with 9.3% for UMC, Gartner said.

Gartner said price competition among foundries was strong in 2015, not only at the 28nm node but also the 40nm and 65nm nodes. While 200mm fabs remain bustling, low utilisation rates at 300mm fabs compelled foundries to run more 0.18-micron wafers in them, the firm added.

Gartner said foundry revenue exhibited an unusual pattern of seasonality in 2015. "The normal seasonal pattern of a very strong second quarter was not obvious, while most foundries continued to revise their business outlook during each quarter's earnings release," Wang said. "The peak inventory level for the semiconductor industry continued to push out during 2015, from the second quarter to the third quarter, and through the rest of the year."

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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