SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The fab tool and materials industries are hot.
VLSI Research Inc. has raised its fab tool forecast. In addition, Gartner
Inc. has given a strong silicon wafer forecast. Gartner also recently raised its
IC capital spending forecast amid booming demand in the market. And not to be
outdone, Techcet has given a bullish outlook for electronic materials.
''Most (fab tool) companies stated that they are more optimistic on the
current cycle than they were 4-6 months ago, which is not a huge surprise given
the increased chipmakers' capex,'' said Edwin Mok, an analyst with Needham &
Co. LLC, in a report. ''This leads us to believe that the near-term strength in
the industry could extend into 2011.''
In total, capital spending is expected to grow by 85 percent in 2010 and
(about) 30 percent in 2011, said C.J. Muse, an analyst with Barclays Capital, in
a recent report.
In addition, IC-equipment sales are now expected to grow 96 percent in 2010,
compared to 83 percent in the previous upgrade, according to VLSI Research.
''Despite weakness at the macro level, semiconductor suppliers remain bullish
about the second half. They’re seeing strong demand for Q3 and little inventory
build up,'' according to VLSI Research. ''Meanwhile, utilization rates remain
above 95 percent due to capacity constraints and stronger-than-expected demand.
As a result, chipmakers are continuing to spend aggressively, especially in the
As reported, there are long lead times for lithography. There are shortages
of backend assembly gear. ''The ATE industry lead-times are still higher than
normal by a couple of weeks (10-12 weeks verses a normal range of 6-8) and we
would not expect them to decline materially in 3Q '10,'' Mok said.
''This should keep orders on a sustainable growth trajectory quarter/quarter
through 4Q '10. Customers have been acting rationally with incremental test
capacity purchases now that the initial front-end of the cycle rush is behind
us,'' he said. ''We continue to observe that this cycle has witnessed an unusual
amount of technology investment relative to the past couple of cycles
highlighted by new higher throughput approaches in the back-end, such as
parallel strip test, along with an investment in ATE resources that can address
a longer-term technology roadmap.''
The materials market is also hot. ''In 2010, silicon wafer demand will see a
substantial comeback from 2009's doubledigit decline, to record an impressive
34.3 percent increase,'' said Takashi Ogawa, an analyst with Gartner Inc., in a
''At the beginning of the second quarter, wafer purchases will likely
decelerate as a consequence of the promotion at the end of the first quarter,
which will set off seasonal demand growth for device production, resulting in a
moderate rise,'' he said.
''Meanwhile, potential demand will emerge in 1H '10 to reflect the
expectation that wafer prices will increase in late 2010 or in 2011, following
2009's drastic decline in wafer prices,'' he said. ''This situation will help
maintain the market's buoyancy, but as the seasonable demand surge from the
device industry subsides, wafer demand will enter a gentle adjustment phase in
the fourth quarter.''
Photoresist makers hope to gain back 95 percent of their 2008 revenue levels,
or about $1.14 billion in 2010, following a 25 percent drop in 2009, according
to a new report from Techcet Group. Revenues are expected to continue to grow to
more than $1.5 billion over the next three years.
''Flash memory is clearly in the lithography driver’s seat, fueling demand
for 193-nm immersion with double patterning, followed by DRAM and
microprocessors,'' according to the firm. ''About 33 percent of all
semiconductor resist sold in the world is now for 193-nm (ArF) dry and immersion
patterning, although 248-nm and i-line remain a mainstay for most layers
pro-duced, with a combined 43 percent in revenue share and a much higher wafer
The photoresist ancillary markets, which include strippers/removers,
developers, ARCs and other ancillaries (EBR, HMDS, specialty solvents) are
expected to reach a combined $1.05 percent this year, despite a revenue decrease
of more than 25 percent last year for developers alone, according to the firm.
The 2009 market for electronic gases totaled $2.37 percent, down 14 percent
from the prior year, according to the firm. ''The 2010 outlook is for 11 percent
growth overall, with the electronic specialty gases segment leading the way with
15 percent growth to $1.6 billion,'' according to the firm.
The combined electronic gases market is expected to reach beyond $2.9 billion
by 2012, according to Techcet’s forecast.In 2009, the electronic gas market leader continues to be Air Products with
26 percent global market share, followed by Taiyo Nippon Sanso and Air Liquide
with 22 percent each, Linde with 16 percent and Praxair with 9 percent,
according to the firm.