MANHASSET, N.Y. -- The
fundamental economics of the semiconductor industry may start changing sooner rather
than later, according to market research firm Gartner Inc.
The costs of staying at the leading edge in semiconductor manufacturing are rising. Semiconductor manufacturers need to plan on equipment costs increasing at about 15 percent for each new node, according to Gartner (Stamford, Conn.).
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It's possible that 450-mm manufacturing will achieve the goal of 30 percent cost reduction. But that equates to only three or four years of increasing equipment costs, and consequently, delays the inevitable, Gartner said. It is also possible that new technologies will emerge that will slow the rate of cost increases, according to the firm.
According to Gartner, the costs of manufacturing equipment needed for leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing are increasing at a rate between 7 percent and 10 percent per year, depending on the basic process.
By 2020, current cost trends will lead to an average cost of between $15 billion and $20 billion for a leading-edge fab, according to the report. By 2016, the minimum capital expenditure budget needed to justify the building of a new fab will range from $8 billion to $10 billion for logic, $3.5 billion to $4.5 billion for DRAM and $6 billion to $7 billion for NAND flash, according to the report.
The Gartner report predicts that at current spending rates, only eight companies could afford to build fabs in the next few years.