SAN JOSE, Calif. Soaring fab costs have prompted many integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) to adopt a ''fab lite'' or fabless strategy in recent times.
But the worst has yet to come. A massive restructuring in semiconductor manufacturing is expected to take place starting at the 32-nm node in the 2009 time frame, warned an analyst.
''The cost of doing business at the 32- and 22-nm nodes will drive many players out of manufacturing,'' said Mary Ann Olsson, an analyst with a new EDA research firm called garysmithEDA.com.
''It's going to be costly [to manufacture at the 32- and 22-nm nodes],'' Olsson said during a presentation at the International Conference on Computer-Aided Design (ICCAD) here Monday (Nov. 6).
And only a ''handful'' of companies will be able to afford to build new fabs for those nodes, forcing several chip makers to adopt a ''fab lite'' strategy, or else, simply go fabless, Olsson said. Many IDMs will also be forced to form partnerships, it was noted.
Another dramatic change is expected to take place in the next decade, when the industry moves from 300- to 450-mm fabs. A 450-mm fab is expected to cost $5 billion, she said.
Olsson does not expect to see 450-mm fabs until the 2014 time frame. Still others believe that 300-mm will be the last wafer size in the semiconductor industry, adding that 450-mm fab gear will be too expensive to develop.
Meanwhile, Gary Smith, the former chief EDA analyst at Gartner Dataquest, has formed his own consulting and research firm in the arena. The new company, called garysmithEDA.com,
bills itself as a consulting firm in electronic design. The firm also consists of former members of Gartner Dataquest's former CAD research group, including Olsson.
Gartner Dataquest, the sole research firm that provided extensive market analysis of the EDA industry, recently closed its CAD research group. The Oct. 31 shutdown of Dataquest's Design and Engineering Group affects five people, including Smith. Smith.