IC Insights said earlier this month it expects total capital spending by semiconductor companies to increase by about 6 percent this year to an estimated $73.2 billion, with the vast majority coming from the top 11 spenders.
According to a report issued by SEMI this week, global equipment sales were boosted by strong increases in buying not only in China, but also in Taiwan and the Southeast Asia regions, as well as a moderate increase in Europe. This offset contraction in spending in Japan and North America of 16 percent and 12 percent, respectively, according to the organization.
Taiwan, with $12.23 billion in total sales, ranked as the largest market for new equipment spending for the fifth year in a row, SEMI said. South Korea, with $7.69 billion in tool spending, was the second largest market for the second straight year, according to the trade group.
In growing by 32 percent, China's semiconductor equipment market surpassed both Japan and North America to become the third-largest market for fab tools globally, SEMI said. Japan and North America fell to fourth and fifth place, respectively, according to the trade organization.
But China is not the only place on the globe where SEMI is predicting that equipment spending will rise in the next two years. The organization expects spending in Europe to increase by 47 percent and spending in South Korea to increase by 45 percent this year. It forecasts that equipment spending in Japan will rise by 28 percent and in the Americas by 21 percent in 2017.
The market for wafer processing equipment increased by 14 percent in 2016, while the total test equipment market increased by 11 percent and the packaging and assembly equipment segment grew by 20 percent, according to SEMI.
SEMI also reported that total equipment bookings in 2016 were 24 percent higher than 2015.
McClean said IC Insights’ estimates do not always square perfectly with SEMI’s. For example, he said, SEMI estimates that fab equipment spending was up 13 percent in 2016, while IC Insights said total capital expenditures increased by just 4 percent. IC Insights is forecasting capital spending increases in 2017 and 2018 of 7 percent and 10 percent, respectively, while SEMI forecasts that equipment sales will rise 15 percent in 2017 and 8 percent in 2018, McClean noted.
—Dylan McGrath covers the semiconductor industry and business news for EE Times.