Memory makers and foundries will make the biggest increases in chip manufacturing capital expenditure in 2014, according to market research firm IC Insights. This is in a total market of $62.23 billion, set to increase by 8 percent compared with 2013.
Despite strong 2014 spending increases led by SanDisk and Micron Technology, the top-five ranking is unchanged, led by Samsung and Intel with spends over $11 billion each.
Leading foundry TSMC is ranked third at slightly less than $10 billion, and collectively these three companies will be responsible for 52 percent of the total semiconductor industry capex in 2014. The top five companies are responsible for 66 percent of the forecast total spend of $62.23 billion.
Nine of the top 10 companies are forecast to spend more than $1 billion in 2014, which represents a threshold of sustainability in leading-edge chip manufacturing. That said, tenth-ranked SMIC, with an annual increase of 35 percent to follow on from a 30 percent increase in spending in 2013, is striving to join the billion-dollar capex club.
SanDisk cut back its capital spending by 28 percent in 2012 and by 12 percent in 2013, according to IC Insights. Now it is set to implement a capital spending percentage increase of 86 percent, needed to expand production of advanced 3D NAND flash memory with its manufacturing partner Toshiba.
Memory maker Micron Technology is also set to increase spending by more than $1 billion, a 58 percent jump, as is pure-play foundry GlobalFoundries.
However, for consistent spending, Samsung and Intel remain preeminent. Over the period 2012 to 2014, Samsung is forecast to spend $35.3 billion, with about 60 percent of this amount targeting memory production, while Intel is forecast to be second to Samsung in total outlays over this same time with $32.6 billion dedicated to capital expenditures. Such spending is sufficient for each company to construct and equip several leading-edge 300 mm wafer fabs.
The capex of the "others" category is set to grow by 3 percent in 2014, and IC Insights expects it to increase at a much slower rate than the overall market, as most of these other companies are now implementing a fab-lite or fabless business model for IC production.
This story originally appeared on EE Times Europe.