Worldwide semiconductor capital spending will return to positive growth in 2003, the first time in two years, according to Gartner Inc. Spending is forecast to total $29.9 billion in 2003, a 7.9% increase from last year, when capital spending shrunk by 38%. Spending for capital equipment, wafer fab equipment, and packaging and assembly equipment is all on pace for growth this year, after each saw revenue declines of over 20% in 2002.
Leading the charge are Japanese companies, which are aggressively funding new ventures, with spending increases of up to 25% to 30%. DRAM spending also is strong, according to Klaus-Dieter Rinnen, managing VP for Gartner’s semiconductor manufacturing and design research group. Foundry growth is projected to be flat — “but that could change in the blink of an eye,” he said. For the first time, Gartner says 300mm equipment will account for the majority of equipment sales, and will grow to account for over 70% of all equipment revenue by 2005.
Worldwide wafer fab utilization also is on the rise, estimated at 81% overall and at 90% for 0.18-micron and below. Rinnen says utilization rates should continue to rise in 2Q03, crossing the 85% and 95% marks, respectively. Worldwide foundry revenue is projected to grow 23%, driven by increased wafer shipments primarily for consumer and PC markets due for a projected PC upgrade cycle; as a result, fab capacity utilization for this sector will surpass 90%.
Also seeing growth in 2003 is the packaging and assembly sector, driven by demand for chip-scale and ball-grid-array packages, as well as a transition to flip-chip.