TAIPEI — Taiwan overtook South Korea in 2015 as the world leader in semiconductor fab capacity, according to market research firm IC Insights.
Taiwan accounted for 21.7 percent of total capacity, edging out South Korea at 20.5 percent, the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company said in an emailed report to EE Times. IC Insights counts capacity that chipmakers have overseas as belonging to the overseas location.
The portion of fab capacity in Asia, North America and Europe has dropped slightly while the rest of the world (ROW) region — primarily including Singapore, Israel and Malaysia — showed a small gain, according to an IC Insights report a year ago. Asia, including Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and China, had 69.2 percent of total capacity in 2015, compared with 69.7 percent in 2014. During the same period, North America came in at 14.2 percent, down a tad from 14.4 percent in 2014. Europe held steady at 6.4 percent during both years. The ROW region edged up to 10.2 percent from 9.6 percent.
Despite China’s aim to expand its domestic chipmaking industry, the nation’s portion of overall capacity dropped in 2015 to 9.7 percent from 10.9 percent a year earlier, according to IC Insights. China assembles most of the world’s electronic products such as iPhones and iPads, yet imports most of the semiconductors it uses to make the gadgets.
Last year was probably a time that most people in the chip business would rather forget. Global sales fell as electronics companies wrestled with an inventory correction that started during the second half of 2015. As sales growth slumped, a wave of mergers swept through the industry.
—Alan Patterson covers the semiconductor industry for EE Times. He is based in Taiwan.