SAN FRANCISCO—The worldwide semiconductor photomask market is expected to be worth $3.35 billion in 2012, up 7 percent from 2011, according to the fab tool vendor trade group SEMI.
At $3.35 billion, the mask market is expected to set a new record high this year for the third consecutive year, SEMI said. The trade group expects the photomask market to grow another 4 percent next year and an additional 3 percent in 2014, SEMI said.
Growth in the semiconductor photomask market is being driven by migration to advanced technology feature sizes (less than 65 nm) and increased manufacturing in Asia-Pacific, SEMI said. Taiwan became the largest photomask regional market, surpassing Japan in 2010, and is expected to remain the largest market for the duration of the forecast, SEMI said.
SEMI said the mask market is becoming increasingly capital intensive. According to SEMI data, 2011 was a record year for mask/reticle making equipment, with sales growing 36 percent year-over-year from the previous record year of 2010 to reach $1.11 billion. As the capital intensiveness of the photomask industry increases, captive mask shops are increasing their market share of the total mask market, now representing 40 percent of the market, up from 30 percent in 2006, SEMI said.
Also Tuesday (May 1), SEMI reported that the worldwide wafer reclaim market is projected to grow from an estimated $374 million in 2011 to $413 million by 2013. Reclaim suppliers face a number of issues including a shortage of feedstock for reclaimed wafers and rising costs associated with more complex cleaning requirements and inspection for advanced geometries. According to SEMI.
SEMI said downward pricing pressure for all wafer sizes finally reversed trend in 2011, thanks to supply better aligning with demand. But prices still have not recovered to pre-2009 downturn levels, SEMI said. A major factor impacting pricing is the increasing tightening of specifications, which require capital intensive inspection tools, SEMI said.
Photomask market is tied to foundry market. As more and more fabless companies work with Taiwan foundries, the increase of photmask market share of Taiwan companies is far from a surprise. The question is if a large chunk of fabrication is going to China, will the photomask business go to China as well? Would Intel shift the curve as it joins the foundry business?