Chip industry still gaining strength, says SICAS

March 2, 2006 – Global semiconductor manufacturers increased their addition of both capacity and actual usage in 4Q06, signs that the industry continues to gain momentum during the normally slow post-holiday seasonal period, according to new data from Semiconductor International Capacity Statistics (SICAS).

Total IC capacity, slowly but steadily rising since late 2004, topped 1.64 million wafer starts/week (200mm equivalent) in 4Q06, a 3.5% increase from the prior quarter and 11.5% higher than 4Q05. Actual usage also sped up through most of 2005, totaling 1.5 million WSPW in 4Q, 5.4% higher than 3Q and 19% more than a year ago. Actual wafer starts have increased 5%-6% for each of the last three quarters. Capacity utilization rates kept on climbing in 4Q06 to 91.8%, from 90.1% in 3Q05 and 86.0% in 4Q05, but still below levels of 94%-95% seen in mid-2004.

For the full year, the industry added about 9.7% capacity, to 6.25 million WSPW. Actual usage in 2006 increased 6.5% to 5.57 million WSPW, from 5.23 million WSPW in FY05.

Leading-edge chip processes (<0.16-micron) witnessed a capacity increase of 8.1% in 4Q06 to 710.8K WSPW, while actual starts were up 10.0% to 699.3K WSPW, resulting in capacity utilization rates that pushed maximum output at 98.4%. For <0.12-micron process technologies, capacity rose 12.2% in 4Q, with actual usage up 14.2% to 421.6K WSPW, for an even higher utilization rate of 99%.

300mm wafer starts (200mm equivalent) increased 17% quarter-on-quarter, the same rate as in the prior quarter. 300mm capacity only grew 11.3% in 4Q, vs. 15% in 3Q and 20% in 4Q05. Utilization for 300mm wafer MOS was 97.6%.

Foundries did not add as much capacity (2.9%, to 264.2K WSPW) as the overall IC industry in 4Q06, but their actual usage rose at a faster clip (6.4%, to 250.6K WSPW). As a result, foundry utilization rates were slightly higher than the rest of the industry, at 94.9%. For all of 2006, foundries added 29% more capacity to 1.01 million WSPW, with actual usage rising 19.2% to 870.6K WSPW.


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