SICAS 4Q10 data: Output lags capacity, utilization dips

February 22, 2011 – Wafer capacity rose about twice as fast as output in the 2010 calendar year-ending quarter, so utilization rates pulled back slightly — but one sector showed surprising strength.

Inside the just-released 4Q10 data update from the Semiconductor International Capacity Statistics (SICAS) group:

Capacity outpaces output, utilizations dip. Total IC capacity up nearly 4% in 4Q10 to 2029.9K wafer starts per week (WSPW), actual wafer starts up 1.7% to 1890.2K WSPW, so utilization rates slipped slightly to 93.1% (vs. 95.2% in 3Q10). The trend was identical for total semiconductors (including discretes): 3.8% increase in capacity (to 2228.4K WSPW) vs. just 1.5% increase in output (2070.4K WSPW), so capacity utilization fell from 95% to 92.9%.

IC capacity has risen for three straight quarters, tacking on more than 100K WSPW (5.3%) over that period, and is back up to 4Q08 levels, though still almost 10% below the 3Q08 peak. Wafer starts have added about the same ratio over the same time period, increased for seven straight quarters, and are within ~2% of peak 3Q08 levels. IC utilization has fallen for two consecutive quarters, now at ~93% (vs. 95%-96% in 2Q10).

Leading-edge still leading. At the leading-edge (≤80nm), both capacity and output actually slipped slightly (<1%) for MOS ≥60nm-80nm, keeping utilization basically unchanged (~97%). At <60nm MOS, though, capacity adds (6.3% to 930.3K WSPW) slightly outpaced actual wafer starts (5.6% to 898.2K WSPW), so utilization rates slipped for the second straight quarter, now to 96.5% (from a high of 98.6% in 2Q10).


Foundries still expanding. Foundries tacked on about 2% capacity in 4Q10 with little extra output (0.5%), which meant utilization rate fell from >99% to 97.7%. Foundries’ share of overall wafer work slipped slightly in 4Q10 vs. 3Q, for both capacity (21.9% vs. >23%) and output (22.8% vs. 23.2%), but both metrics are up noticeably from a year ago (17.2% capacity, 17.6% WSPW).

Return of the smaller wafers. Work on <200mm wafers enjoyed a resurgence not seen in several years — capacity spiked 49% to 134.5K WSPW, actual output surged nearly 63%, and utilization rose to 75.5%. 300mm wafer manufacturing still dominates, though, tacking on ~3% capacity and output in 4Q10, keeping utilization high at ~97%. 300mm wafers now represent about 62% of total MOS wafer capacity and almost 65% of output, vs. 56% and 61% a year ago, respectively. 200mm wafer capacity actually fell nearly -1% in 4Q, and output was down nearly -7%.




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