SAN FRANCISCO — Market watchers keep raising their forecasts for 2017 semiconductor sales, and the number projections keep get bigger.
This week, market research firm IC Insights Inc. officially upped its estimate for the 2017 semiconductor market, saying it expects sales to increase 16 percent to reach $419.1 billion.
The revised forecast is among the most aggressive yet from industry watchers, who have been revising forecasts upward since a sudden market upturn began in the second half of last year. In the past few months, market research firm Gartner Inc. and the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization have both dramatically increased their forecasts, each projecting growth of about 12 percent this year after earlier forecasting more moderate growth for the industry.
To a large extent, the chip market is booming more than expected thanks to a sustained surge in memory chip pricing driven by tight supply. IC Insights said the DRAM market is now expected to grow by 55 percent this year, while the market for NAND flash is now expected to grow by 35 percent. In both cases, the sales increases are being driven almost entirely by price increases rather than unit growth, the first noted.
The semiconductor industry now appears all but certain to enjoy its first double-digit percentage growth year since 2010, when sales expanded by 33 percent during a recovery from the global financial crisis and the recession that followed. IC Insights said it would mark the fifth time since 2000 that the industry grew by 10 percent or more.
IC Insights noted that the DRAM market has had a notable impact on total IC market growth in recent years. The DRAM market alone lifted the overall chip industry to growth in both 2013 and 2014, when DRAM growth of 32 percent and 34 percent, respectively, led to global chip sales increases of 3 percent in 2013 and 4 percent in 2014, the firm said.
Total DRAM sales for the year are forecast to be $64.2 billion, IC Insights said, by far the largest single product category in the IC industry ahead of MPUs by about $17 billion.
—Dylan McGrath is the editor-in-chief of EE Times.