LONDON — Chip manufacturing capacity is rising around the world, but so is demand, keeping capacity utilization above 90 percent in several leading-edge sectors, according to the Semiconductor International Capacity Statistics (SICAS) organization.
Worldwide wafer fab capacity utilization hit 89.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, up from 86.5 percent in the third quarter, according to the organization, which collects production statistics from around the world for the benefit of the industry. However, production is split between older processes and 200-mm wafer production where capacity utilization remains at about 80 percent and leading-edge CMOS production (below about 160-nm design rules), and production on 300-mm diameter wafers, where capacity utilization exceeds 90 percent.
As foundries brought on capacity in the fourth quarter wafer starts almost doubled (up 90 percent) from where they were a year before and capacity utilization fell slightly to 91.0 percent from 91.9 percent in the third quarter.
Manufacturing on 300-mm wafers reached 96.7 percent capacity utilization, up from 96.1 percent in the second quarter, due to a relatively modest increase in production capacity. At the same time production on 200-mm wafers climed to 82.4 percent, up from 80.2 percent as manufacturing capacity fell.
Between 80-nm and 60-nm utilisation was 91.4 percent of capacity, down from 95.7 percent in the third quarter and below 60-nm capacity utilization was at 96.3 percent, up from 93.5 percent of capacity in Q309. Older MOS processes were around the 80 percent utilization rate.
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