Taiwan, China Continue to Lead Increase in Foundry Capacity, Investment: SEMI

16 Jul

SEMI said in its latest World Fab Forecast that foundry capacity in 2015 has exceeded memory capacity to become the largest segment in the semiconductor industry and that Taiwan and China are expected to continue to lead the growth.

The report said that by the end of 2017, foundry capacity will reach 6 million 8-inch-equivalent wafers per month and will outgrow the semiconductor industry at 5 percent each year.

The report named Taiwan the largest foundry region by capacity. Taiwan accounts for over 55 percent of the 12-inch wafer capacity, led by TSMC and UMC. TSMC is prepping its Fab 12 Phase 7 and Fab 15 Phase 5 and 6 for the upcoming 10nm production and below, while UMC continues to expand its 28nm capacity. UMC is also preparing its Fab 12A P5 for 14nm production.

Meanwhile, China, the runner-up in foundry capacity, is also the fastest growing market. China’s foundry houses produced 950,000 wafers per month in 2015. The number is forecast to rise to 1.2 million by the end of 2017, accounting for 20 percent of the global wafer capacity. SMIC, China’s leading foundry house, is expanding its capacity in its 12-inch facilities, B1 Fab in Beijing and Fab 8 in Shanghai, as well as beefing up production in its newly founded B2 12-inch Fab in Beijing and Fab 15, an 8-inch facility, in Shenzhen. SMIC’s expansion plan also includes 28nm/40nm capacity and maturing the 8-inch wafers. Among other Chinese foundries, XMC will devote its Fab A to NOR flash memory. Huali will kick off construction for its second fab next year in order to bring up production by the second half of 2018.

Taiwanese foundry houses in the next few years will also contribute to China’s growing capacity. UMC’s 12X Fab in Xiamen will begin production later this year. Powerchip’s plant in Hefei and TSMC’s facility in Nanjing will also become operational in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The three facilities, founded by Taiwanese foundries, are expected to generate at least 110,000 12-inch wafers per month.

In addition to ramping up capacity, global foundries are also engaging in competition in advanced process technologies. TSMC, Samsung and GlobalFoundries are competing for a leading spot in 10nm and below. The improvement in technology is expected to increase investment by chip makers, particularly in Taiwan and China.

Terry Tsao, president of SEMI Taiwan, said that as the global semiconductor posts steady gain in 2016, the domestic semiconductor is growing at a faster pace. He also touted the role Taiwanese manufacturers play in the world in terms of technology development and capacity, praising foundries for their efforts in innovation, capacity expansion and equipment investment.

(Picture: TPGimages)