SAN JOSE -- Semiconductor capital equipment shipments grew 112% in the first half of 2000, compared to the same period last year, according to a new industry report, which underscores the rapid buildup of chip-manufacturing capacity that worries some analysts.
Worldwide, chip makers took delivery of $21.9 billion in production equipment during the first six months of 2000 vs. $10.3 billion in the first half of 1999, said the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) trade group here today. SEMI's new report also said lithography tool shipments surged 178%, backend assembly and testing gear grew 121%, and ion implantation systems jumped 191% in the first half of this year over the same period in 1999.
The new revenue figures come from the World Semiconductor Equipment Market Statistics (SEMS) report, which is sold by SEMI. The report includes data from six major geographic regions and covers 21 tool product categories.
"In what we believe is shaping up to be a record growth year, semiconductor equipment sales are booming as global chip makers expand manufacturing capacity and migrate to equipment for 300-mm wafer fabrication," said Stanley T. Meyers, president and chief executive officer of the San Jose-based trade group. "In just the first half of this year, equipment sales have surpassed the entire 1998 annual market," he added, referring to the worst downturn in the history of the semiconductor equipment industry.
Last week, equipment analysts placed the current pace of growth at over 80%, and some market researcher are now looking at hiking their overall growth estimates for 2000 (see Aug. 24). While chip capacity remains tight--with fabs running at over 95% of their installed capacity--the accelerated rate of investments could pull in the timeframe for the next downturn to 2002 vs. 2003, warn some market observers.
But for now, tool suppliers are just focused on keeping up with the brisk pace of orders. SEMI said the strength of the current investment cycle is reflected across equipment categories. Among the highest growth segments in the first six months of 2000 were lithography exposure tools and writing equipment used to pattern circuit images on silicon wafers, said SEMI. The report said this lithography segment posted a 178% increase over the same period in 1999 to $3.16 billion.
Photoresist process equipment--including resist track and stripping tools--which gained 110% to $1.18 billion in the first six months of 2000 over last year, said the SEMI report. Etch gear gained 116% to $2.19 billion, and ion implantation systems increased 191% to $705 million in the six-month period, while test, assembly and packaging equipment collectively grew 121% to $6.1 billion, according to SEMI's report.