Fab spending falls says SEMI

According to SEMI’s World Fab Forecast report, worldwide fab capacity is expected to grow by 5 per cent in 2008 and is currently forecast to increase between 4 and 5 per cent in 2009.

From 2003 through 2007, semiconductor fab capacity increased near or above double-digits rates annually, but as a result of the global economic uncertainty capacity growth rates will be much lower for both 2008 and 2009. Wafer fab capacity is forecasted to reach 16.1 million wafers per month in 200mm equivalent wafers by the end of 2009 compared to 5.4 millions wafers per month capacity expected by year end 2008. Spending on fabs equipping in 2009 is expected to reach lowest levels since 2003.

As a reaction to global economic uncertainty, oversupply, and falling average selling prices (ASP), most memory companies are opting to close their 200mm fabs. However, a number of these companies are maintaining smaller, but positive growth rates for their 300mm fabs.

During the fourth quarter of 2008, foundries are expected to reach the lowest levels of utilisation since 2002, and these levels are expected to remain low through the first half of 2009. All foundries are expected to reduce their capex throughout the coming year. For 2009, foundries are expected to maintain the strongest growth rate, with about eight percent, followed by MPU, and then memory fabs. The capacity growth rate for 300 mm fabs will be 22 per cent and 12 per cent in 2008 and in 2009, respectively.

Construction began on five new fabs in 2008, and in 2009, another six new fab construction projects are expected to commence.  Spending on fab construction projects in 2008 is expected to decline by 41 per cent year-over-year, as projects are pushed out or put on hold. In 2009, the Americas and Japan are expected to be the only regions with positive growth rates for construction spending.  Key drivers of this growth are companies such as Toshiba, the Flash Alliance joint venture and Panasonic.

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