Fab capacity, utilization rates spiked in 2Q

September 12, 2006 – Worldwide IC capacity growth slowed in 2Q to about 2.4%, down from 3.3%-4.2% in the prior three quarters, but a strong 4.4% increase in wafer starts pushed utilization rates back above the 91% mark again, according to data from SICAS.

Total IC capacity in 2Q amounted to 1744.4 wafer starts per week (WSPW, 200mm equivalent), about 14% higher than a year ago, and the third straight quarter of double-digit year-on-year growth. Actual wafer starts were up 16.8% vs. 2Q05 to 1591.2 WSPW, marking the third straight month of impressive 16%-19% growth. Capacity utilization rose to 91.2%, from 89.5% in 1Q, the first time utilization had slipped below the 90% level since last summer. Global wafer capacity has risen sequentially for 10 straight quarters, with five quarters of positive growth in actual wafer starts.

Total semiconductors (including discretes) saw a 2.7% increase in capacity to 1876.1 WSPW, and a 4.6% hike in actual starts, for overall utilization of 91.4%. Total MOS capacity rose 3.1% sequentially and 16.3% vs. a year ago to 1660.4 WSPW, while MOS wafer starts were up 4.9% Q-Q and 19.3% Y-Y to 1524.7 WSPW.

Utilization rates for leading-edge processes (MOS <0.12-micron) remain very high, at about 97%, remaining in a range of 96%-99% since early 2005. Utilization for processes >/= 0.12-micron to <0.16-micron also remain high at about 97%.

Foundries enjoyed a solid increase in output in 2Q, with wafer starts increasing 5.9% sequentially to 264.1 WSPS, representing a 26.0% increase from 2Q05, while capacity rose 3.1% Q-Q and 11.1% Y-Y to 280.3%. Foundry utilization rates rose to 94.2% from 91.7% in the prior quarter, the highest level in nearly two years.


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