SEMI: Wafer shipments hit seven-year low

May 20, 2009 – The latest data nugget describing the low depths being plumbed by the semiconductor industry: silicon wafer shipments are still at a low not seen since mid-2001, and one metric of decline goes back even further.

Total silicon wafer area shipments (semiconductors only, not for solar applications), tracked by SEMI’s Silicon Manufacturing Group (SMG), totaled just 940M in. 2 in 1Q09, down -34% from 4Q08, the second-biggest sequential decline since 2001 (barely better than 4Q08’s -36%). The Y/Y decline (-56% vs. 1Q08) is the largest since at least 2000 — and since the real pain of this downturn didn’t happen until late 2008, we can expect a couple more quarters of equally dismal Y/Y comparisons.

“Clearly, difficult global economic conditions continued to have an impact on wafer shipments in the first quarter of the year,” said Nobuo Katsuoka, chairman of SEMI SMG and Shin-Etsu Handotai’s director of SOI process engineering department, in a statement.

Still, there may be a hope awakening in the market — Katsuoka said market conditions “have recovered” from a bottom he says was reached in the January-February period. If so, at least the quarterly comparisons should start to look a little better.


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