300mm wafer fab set to double within 5 years

August 23, 2011 — Semiconductor manufacturing using 12" (300mm) wafers enables scalability for high-volume wafer fab. 300mm production will nearly double from 2010 to 2015 as IDMs and foundries recognize the value of 300mm wafers for mature products, according to the IHS iSuppli Global Silicon Forecast Market Tracker from analyst firm IHS (NYSE: IHS).

In 2010, 4,799.4 million square inches of silicon went through 300mm lines. 2015 will see 8,753 million square inches of silicon fabbed on 12" wafers, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.8%. IHS expects IDMs to produce 5,608.5 million square inches of silicon at 300mm this year.

The above figure presents the IHS global forecast for 12" wafer manufacturing from 2010 to 2015 in terms of square inches of silicon.

12" wafers started in advanced semiconductor manufacturing projects, notes Len Jelinek, research director and analyst for semiconductor manufacturing at IHS. As IDMs and foundries saw how cost-effective 300mm lines were, 12" wafers have been used for mature products, starting about 2 years ago. This is spurring the new, rapid growth in 12" wafers.

The 18" (450mm) wafer is nearing commercialization, however, which could herald a major industry transition for more scalability and throughput. IHS points out that 450mm still faces "major questions" about transition pros vs cons, such as the profitability of capex investments vs. increased productivity.

Also read: 300mm Prime vs. 450mm: not an "either/or" choice

Semiconductor manufacturers, tool suppliers and silicon suppliers are not yet fully behind the 450mm wafer transition, which IHS expects to start in earnest in 2015.

To learn more about this topic, see the new IHS iSuppli report, Silicon Suppliers Face Uncertain Second-Half Demand: http://www.isuppli.com/Semiconductor-Value-Chain/Pages/Silicon-Suppliers-Face-Uncertain-Second-Half-Demand.aspx?PRX

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