Capacity, output inch up in 1Q

May 25, 2006 – Worldwide IC capacity rose 4% during 1Q06, while output inched up about 2%, and utilization rates slipped below the 90% mark for the first time since last summer, according to new data from Semiconductor International Capacity Statistics (SICAS).

Output from the world’s IC producers remained strong in 1Q, with small single-digit increases in capacity and actual wafer starts compared with 4Q05. Compared with a year ago, capacity jumped by 13% to 1.70 million wafer starts/week (200mm wafers), while actual output was hiked up by 19% to 1.52 million WSpW. Capacity has risen for nine consecutive quarters; actual wafer starts have risen for five quarters, although in 1Q06 the growth was smaller than the 4.5%-6.5% growth seen in 2Q05-4Q05.

Output of MOS wafers with process technologies between 0.12-0.16 micron were the only leading-edge processes to maintain utilization rates during the quarter, at about 97.7% according to the SICAS data. Capacity for MOS <0.12-micron wafers rose 12% quarter-on-quarter and 66% year-on-year to 478,100 WSpW, and actual output rose nearly 10% sequentially and 66% year-on-year to 463,000 WSpW, but capacity was reduced from nearly 99% in 4Q05 to about 97% in 1Q06.

Total MOS wafer output in 1Q06 was 1.45 million WSpW, a 2% increase from 4Q05 and up 21% from 1Q05. Capacity expansions slightly outpaced the small output ramp, up 5% sequentially and 15% year-on-year to 1.61 million WSpW.

Wafer production from foundries actually dipped 0.5% in 1Q to 249,300 WSpW, the first sequential decline in output since 4Q04, although output grew >40% year-on-year for the second consecutive month. Foundry capacity increased 3% sequentially and 17% year-on-year to 272,000 WSpW; foundry capacity utilization thus dropped from about 95% in 4Q05 to 91.7% in 1Q06.

The ramp of 300mm facilities worldwide continues, as chipmakers added 20% capacity from the previous quarter to 154,900 WSpW, a 71% jump from a year ago. Actual wafer starts were 149,000 WSpW, a 19% increase from 4Q05 and up 77% from 1Q05. 300mm utilization rates slipped about one percentage point to 96.2%. Meanwhile, 200mm wafer production slipped slightly (-1.8% sequentially) in 1Q06, while capacity rose about 1.4%, for a utilization rate of 92%.


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