MUNICH, Germany Manufacturing capacity utilization in the semiconductor industry continued its decline in the third quarter. The SICAS statistics, however, show surprisingly large differences between product segments.
Overall capacity utilization in Q3 fell to 86,9 percent from 88.5 percent in Q2. This is the lowest level for almost two years since 4Q06 when the utilization was 86.8 percent. The utilization for discretes was even lower and came in at 83.8 percent in Q3, slightly down from 83.9 percent in Q2. The utilization for this product group tends to be relatively low; in Q1 it was only 81.9 percent.
Broken down by geometries, the production of devices with structures equal to or larger than 0.7 micron (yes, this segment still exists) featured the lowest utilization: 74.1 percent in Q3, down from 76.3 percent in Q2. This segment is in a steady decline; the current value represents an all-time-low.
At the other end of the geometries spectrum, the utilization remained high indicating that this segment sees the strongest demand for its products. Manufacturing lines for devices with geometries smaller than 80 nanometers were utilized at 95.2 percent, a constant value over the past two quarters. In Q1, this segment hit the record mark of 96.7 percent utilization.
Similarly, wafer sizes were also a factor. While utilization for wafers smaller than 200 mm declined significantly from 75.9 percent in Q2 to 64.3 percent in Q3, 300-mm wafers continued to be in strong demand; utilization climbed in Q3 to 96.5 percent from 94.8 percent in Q2. With the exception of the period from Q3/06 through Q1/07, this segment constantly achieved utilizations at or above 95 percent; its best quarter hitherto was Q4/07 when utilization hit 98.0 percent.