According to Semico Research Corp., 2013 is expected to shape up to be a better year than 2012. Increased demand for computing products and continued growth in mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets will boost unit sales. In addition, wafer demand is expected to increase by 10%. Improved manufacturing efficiencies and higher capacity utilization will help contribute to healthier conditions for the overall industry in 2013.
We are entering 2013 with a cautious attitude. As usual, demand in the semiconductor industry runs hot or cold. In 2012, PC manufacturers geared up for the Ultrabook and Windows 8 but were disappointed due to delays and lackluster demand. This year, new convertible PCs (PC/tablets) and phablets (tablet/phones) are stirring up consumer optimism. Companies are being conservative with inventories but are poised for growth as things slowly recovery. Semico does not believe the semiconductor supply chain pipeline is ready if a new PC or smartphone form factor takes off.
In 2012, the ramp of 22nm at Intel and 28nm at TSMC proved to be challenging from both a technology as well as a market standpoint. This year, companies will focus on manufacturing efficiencies as they take advantage of the learning curve for the processes that are already in place. At the same time advanced technology manufacturers will continue investing in preparation for 14nm and 20nm process implementation.
Source: Semico Research Corp. Wafer Demand Model Q1 2013Figure 1: Semiconductor unit and wafer demand
A broad range of semiconductor product markets make it challenging to forecast wafer demand. The figure below shows the shifts in product influence on total wafer demand.
Memory products continue to require a healthy share of wafers. Over the past 10 years the silicon required to manufacture NAND products far outpaced any other product category, including DRAM. In 2012, 32% of total silicon went to the production of memory products. NAND required 15.5% percent of total, while DRAM utilized 12.2%.
In the logic category, most of the attention is focused on the microprocessor and the bleeding edge technology required to produce those processors. Even with the introduction of new materials, new process steps and a new transistor structure, wafer demand for microprocessors has remained relatively stable as a percent of total wafer demand. It’s the microcontroller with its billions of units that requires more wafers. Microcontroller units and wafer demand continue to grow as smart cards and automotive applications increase.
The other logic category that has seen tremendous growth is MOS Logic, more specifically, in communication ICs. In the past 10 years, the growth of mobile devices has caused wafer demand for wireless communication products to surpassed microcontrollers. Wafer demand for communication MOS Logic has grown at an impressive 21% CAGR over the past 10 years.
Source: Semico Research Corp. Wafer Demand Model Q1 2013
Figure 2: Wafer demand by product as a percent of total
Although the semiconductor products manufactured in 2013 will enjoy more efficient manufacturing conditions in 2013, as usual, there will continue to be many challenges. These challenges include:
- Cost reduction for 28/20nm volume production
- Cost containment for process development of 14nm development
- Yield challenges associated with new materials and multiple patterning layers
- Managing design time and design costs
- Incorporating system-level software at the chip level
In spite of all these challenges, Semico is optimistic that innovative products will continue to roll out of the fabs and semiconductor sales will improve in 2013 and 2014.
The Wafer Demand Summary and Assumptions is a quarterly publication. It includes an excel spreadsheet with annual wafer demand by product by technology from 2002-2016. Product categories include DRAM, SRAM, NAND, NOR, Other Non-volatile, MPU, MCU, DSP, Computing Micro Logic, Communications, Other Micro Logic, Programmable Logic, Standard Cell, Gate Array, Analog, Discrete, Optoelectronics, Digital Bipolar. In addition, there is a five-page summary write-up providing the major assumptions behind the forecast and changes from the previous quarter.More InformationBrian Bailey
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