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By Mike Russo

For public policy lovers, civic-minded, engaged U.S. citizens, and people around the world interested in the U.S. President’s positions and priorities, the annual State of the Union address (SOTU) is “must-see TV.” This year, the anticipation and expectations were different than with past presidents. Trump is the first U.S. president who has used social media to the extreme that he has. Indeed, his Twitter feed is the most followed in history.

President Trump’s prolific Twitter feed has had an interesting impact on the SOTU. U.S. citizens and people from around the world already know President Trump’s positions on issues, his policy priorities and what gets him excited. There is an ongoing, direct line to the President’s thoughts throughout each and every day. In the past we looked to the SOTU for insights into what the sitting president is really thinking and his future policy priorities. Now, there isn’t much we don’t already know.

One looming question this year was whether President Trump would reach out in a conciliatory manner to help bridge the political divide and lay the groundwork to enable some public policy wins and avoid another government shutdown. While there were moments of conciliation, the President made it clear he would not move on areas that are most contentious with the other side of the aisle.

For example, the President unequivocally reiterated his intent to build “the wall.” While the message plays well to his base, it is, in effect, a frontal assault and challenge to Democrats. It’s hard to image that his staunch stance will help move the two parties to work together on substantive policy issues. It may also mean that the “wall” issue will occupy lawmakers time for the foreseeable future, sidelining debate on other important issues.

The best hope is that a bipartisan bill finds its way to the President’s desk that he can sign and use to “declare victory.” However, many political observers believe the likelihood of the President declaring a national security emergency is rising as a maneuver to ensure funding for “the wall” and avoid a shutdown. While such a declaration would most likely face a court challenge, the President could claim that his decision was a move of last resort and leverage the moment to position Democrats as obstructionists to his base. The scenario does not bode well for the bipartisan support necessary to address other issues.

What does this mean for our industry? Were there any points raised in the SOTU that would signal a change in what we are facing regarding trade, tariffs, export controls and immigration? Were any new issues or ideas raised that could help lift the global economy? In short, no. On one hand, the President cited his good relationship with the president of China, but on the other doubled down on his attacks on China, seeming to stand firm to bolster his position at the table as the U.S. and China trade talks continue.

What do these dynamics mean for SEMI Global Advocacy? In 2018 we were heavily engaged in efforts to prevent regulations that would inhibit our members’ ability to develop and deploy technologies and maintain global market access. We advanced our global advocacy model, leveraging our regional presence around the world. Many of the potential issues we faced emanated from the U.S., including those focused on controlling technology development, limiting trade and enhancing export controls. We also intensified our efforts to address industry talent pipeline issues.

In 2019, our public policy focus will be to continue to push back on tariffs, engage members to inform the rule-making process for export controls and to attempt to influence the immigration debate as it pertains to access to talent. In addition, while the U.S. R&D tax credit was made permanent through the tax cut in 2017, some of the provisions may have unintended consequences and will need to be modified. How the law is enacted will affect how businesses can deduct qualified research and development and other expenses from their taxable income, so we anticipate activity on the tax front as well.

It will also be a big year for SEMI on the workforce developmentfront. SEMI will continue to grow its existing High Tech U (HTU), university and mentor programs. In addition, SEMI will be positioning itself as the global leader in addressing issues related to the talent pipeline by approaching the problem with a full-spectrum, holistic approach that is intended to better address more immediate needs in attracting, training and retaining qualified talent. We’ll also focus on improving the industry image and exciting students at a younger age by providing experiential learning activities throughout a defined educational pathway. Stay tuned on this front as the full program unfolds.

In general, we will continue to build our relationships and stature as a leading voice for our members and the end-to-end semiconductor supply chain in the areas of “Talent, Trade, Tax and Technology” (SEMI’s “4 Ts”) and to ensure free and fair trade, access to markets, supply chain growth, IP protections and enhanced efforts to improve cybersecurity.

Mike Russo is VP of Global Industry Advocacy at SEMI. 

Source: SEMI Blog

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), representing U.S. leadership in semiconductor manufacturing, design, and research, today announced the global semiconductor industry posted sales of $468.8 billion in 2018, the industry’s highest-ever annual total and an increase of 13.7 percent compared to the 2017 total. Global sales for the month of December 2018 reached $38.2 billion, a slight increase of 0.6 percent over the December 2017 total, but down 7.0 percent compared to the total from November 2018. Fourth-quarter sales of $114.7 billion were 0.6 percent higher than the total from the fourth quarter of 2017, but 8.2 percent less than the third quarter of 2018. All monthly sales numbers are compiled by the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization and represent a three-month moving average.

“Global demand for semiconductors reached a new high in 2018, with annual sales hitting a high-water mark and total units shipped topping 1 trillion for the first time,” said John Neuffer, SIA president and CEO. “Market growth slowed during the second half of 2018, but the long-term outlook remains strong. Semiconductors continue to make the world around us smarter and more connected, and a range of budding technologies – artificial intelligence, virtual reality, the Internet of Things, among many others – hold tremendous promise for future growth.”

Several semiconductor product segments stood out in 2018. Memory was the largest semiconductor category by sales with $158.0 billion in 2018, and the fastest growing, with sales increasing 27.4 percent. Within the memory category, sales of DRAM products increased 36.4 percent and sales of NAND flash products increased 14.8 percent. Logic ($109.3 billion) and micro-ICs ($67.2 billion) – a category that includes microprocessors – rounded out the top three product categories in terms of total sales. Other fast-growing product categories in 2018 included power transistors (14.4 percent growth/total sales of $14.4 billion) and analog products (10.8 percent growth/total sales of $58.8 billion). Even without sales of memory products, sales of all other products combined increased by nearly 8 percent in 2018.

Annual sales increased substantially across all regions: China (20.5 percent), the Americas (16.4 percent), Europe (12.1 percent), Japan (9.2 percent), and Asia Pacific/All Other (6.1 percent). For the month of December 2018, year-to-year sales increased in China (5.8 percent), Europe (2.8 percent), and Japan (2.3 percent), but fell in Asia Pacific/All Other (-0.7 percent) and the Americas (-6.2 percent). Sales in December 2018 were down compared to November 2018 across all regions: Japan (-2.2 percent), Asia Pacific/All Other (-3.1 percent), Europe (-4.9 percent), China (-8.1 percent), and the Americas (-12.4 percent).

“A strong semiconductor industry is critical to America’s economic strength, national security, and global technology leadership,” said Neuffer. “We urge Congress and the Trump Administration to enact polices in 2019 that promote continued growth and innovation, including robust investments for basic scientific research, long-overdue high-skilled immigration reforms, and initiatives that promote free and open trade, such as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). We look forward to working with policymakers in the year ahead to further strengthen the semiconductor industry, the broader tech sector, and our economy.”

For comprehensive monthly semiconductor sales data and detailed WSTS Forecasts, consider purchasing the WSTS Subscription Package. For detailed historical information about the global semiconductor industry and market, consider ordering the SIA Databook.

By Ajit Manocha

Last year the industry posted another remarkable double-digit revenue growth year. IC shipments eclipsed one trillion units for the first time and continued to enable an ever-expanding array of silicon intensive-applications.

2018 was also a pivotal year of transformation at SEMI. Setting our sights firmly on building more value for SEMI members, we doubled down on priorities I established this time last year. We advocated intensively on global trade policies, industry talent needs, and critical environment, health and safety (EHS) concerns. To underpin our efforts around talent, we took the bold step to reinvigorate the industry’s identity with a dynamic image campaign. Above all, we targeted critical industry-wide issues to help us realize the ambition of becoming a trillion-dollar industry in the next decade.

Workforce Development

Redefining our approach to talent development in 2018 was and remains a top priority. A diverse, highly skilled workforce is crucial to the industry’s ability to innovate. Last year we ramped up a number of  SEMI High Tech U (HTU) programs to inspire young people and attract them to careers in high-tech manufacturing. To date, more than 130,000 students have been touched by HTU – through student or teacher programs.

Over the past year, we designed a new university outreach program and established partnerships with 100 institutions. We established Workforce Pavilions at SEMICON events in Southeast Asia, the U.S., Taiwan, Europe and Japan for students to explore career opportunities and meet with recruiters. We thrilled at seeing sponsors hire young talent at SEMI events. This year, all SEMICONs worldwide will feature Workforce Pavilions.

SEMI also formalized its commitment to Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) with the establishment of a D&I council to shape new programs including the recently launched Spotlight on SEMI Women. To localize and fully optimize our D&I programs, we established regional workforce councils in every region we serve.

We unveiled the SEMI Mentoring Program to support students and young professionals on this journey by facilitating one-on-one mentoring relationships with industry professionals. Hundreds of mentees have enrolled. But we still need more mentors.  I urge you to join the program.

During the year, SEMI also expanded its workforce staff and developed a comprehensive workforce strategy with programs that engage students as early as elementary school and inspires them through high school and college. The program provides pathways to professional careers, building a pipeline to fill the short-term and long-term talent needs of the industry.

Industry Image Campaign

As we developed the comprehensive workforce development program, we knew we had to refresh the industry’s image and appeal to the next generation through contemporary media and communications channels. So we recently launched a bold, innovative campaign to raise industry awareness and attract students and recent graduates to careers in semiconductor manufacturing.

Our You’re Welcome campaign is a novel, creative approach that blends entertainment, media and storytelling to excite students about the industry. The campaign went viral immediately and within weeks had more than 5.5 million social media impressions and 2.3 million video views.

Trade Policy Advocacy

Rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China catapulted global trade policy to the forefront of industry concerns in 2018. Since the tariffs have taken force, semiconductor companies have faced higher costs, greater uncertainty, and difficulty selling products abroad. The tariffs have forced many SEMI member companies to pause or rethink their investment strategies.

SEMI quickly engaged U.S. policymakers and provided resources for SEMI members. We formed a member trade task force, staged trade compliance seminars in China, and convened meetings with over 110 U.S. congressional, agency and administration officials, and provided testimony on the importance of the free trade to the industry.

SEMI continues to educate policymakers about the critical importance of free and fair trade, open markets, and respect and enforcement of IP for all players in the global electronics manufacturing supply chain. As part of this initiative, we distributed “10 Principles for the Global Semiconductor Supply Chain in Modern Trade Agreements” and encouraged their adoption in various trade negotiations. These principles outline the primary considerations for balanced trade rules that benefit SEMI members around the world, strengthen innovation and perpetuate the societal benefits of affordable microelectronics.

Environment, Health and Safety

Environmental regulations are proliferating globally even as advanced semiconductor manufacturing technology relies increasingly on a host of new materials. With dozens of new fabs and fab line upgrades, our industry must align on best practices, sensibly respond to materials restrictions, and renew efforts toward sustainable manufacturing.

That’s why the revitalization of SEMI EHS efforts became another priority in 2018. Two months ago, we hosted the inaugural EHS Summit at SEMI Headquarters. Fully, 70 EHS professionals and company executives met to form the basis for the future SEMI EHS program.

The Year Ahead

Despite a softening in the market, compounded by Apple’s first-ever announcement of a revenue decline in 16 years, a geopolitical whirlwind on trade and an extended shutdown of much of the U.S. government, the future is bright.

At SEMI’s annual Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS 2019) in Half Moon Bay, Calif. in early January,  the sense of optimism was palpable. In her keynote address, Dr. Ann Kelleher, Sr. VP and General Manager, Technology and Manufacturing Group, at Intel, observed that data is powering the fourth industry revolution and the expansion of compute. With customers expecting continual improvements in applications, Kelleher highlighted the tremendous opportunity for the chip industry to meet these expectations.

At ISS 2019, we announced a Memorandum of Understand between SEMI and imec. The MOU will enable us to accelerate our members’ engagement in SEMI’s Smart vertical market platforms, in particular Smart MedTech and Smart Transportation. Our partnership with imec will also allow us to boost SEMI Standards activities in non-CMOS technologies, deepen technology roadmap efforts and augment our SEMI Think Tank initiative in thought leadership at a global level.

Over the course of this coming year, will we begin our global rollout of key building blocks of our comprehensive workforce development program to engage schoolchildren as young as 10 and learners all the way to veterans who return to the workforce. We are now able, with the invaluable help of our Workforce Development Council and the passionate engagement of many SEMI member companies, to offer a solution to the talent crisis in our industry.

We will continue to be the leading voice for our members and the end-to-end semiconductor supply chain across Talent, Trade, Tax and Technology as we work to ensure free, fair trade that protects IP while preserving vital access to markets to grow the supply chain.

Vertical Market Platforms

Our vertical market platforms are an important part of this growth. For example, in Smart MedTech, SEMI looks forward to working with the Nano-Bio Materials Consortium to advance human monitoring technology for telemedicine and digital health after winning $7 million to fund the renewed program. In Smart Transportation, we will leverage the Global Automotive Advisory Council (GAAC) we formed last year to represent the full automotive supply chain and the Smart Transportation and Smart Automotive forums featured at all our SEMICON events to enable the industry to identify and seize opportunities in autonomous driving.

At ISS 2019, Sujeet Chand of Rockwell Automation noted that “digitization will grow faster in the next 10 years than it did in the past 50,” a trend calling for semiconductor fab architectures that transform data into business value. We will continue to bring the industry together at our Smart Manufacturing venues to help uncover ways to deploy deep learning, edge computing and other Smart technologies to deliver this value and meet the challenges of automation as artificial intelligence’s (AI) sprawling influence reshapes industries including manufacturing.

I am filled with optimism and thrilled about the opportunities I see on the horizon for our members as we build on our 2018 accomplishments to enable your prosperity in 2019 and beyond. My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your participation in our programs and events.

I look forward to another successful year as we connect, collaborate and innovate together!

Ajit Manocha is president and CEO of SEMI. 

IC Insights is in the process of completing its forecast and analysis of the IC industry and will present its new findings in The McClean Report 2019, which will be published later this month.  Among the semiconductor industry data included in the new 400+ page report is an analysis of the top-50 semiconductor suppliers.

Research included in the new McClean Report shows that the world’s leading semiconductor suppliers significantly increased their marketshare over the past decade.  The top 5 semiconductor suppliers accounted for 47% of the world’s semiconductor sales in 2018, an increase of 14 percentage points from 10 years earlier (Figure 1).  In total, the 2018 top 50 suppliers represented 89% of the total $514.0 billion worldwide semiconductor market last year, up seven percentage points from the 82% share the top 50 companies held in 2008.

As shown, the top 5, top 10, and top 25 companies’ share of the 2018 worldwide semiconductor market increased 14, 15, and 11 percentage points, respectively, as compared to 10 years earlier in 2008.  With additional mergers and acquisitions expected over the next few years, IC Insights believes that the consolidation could raise the shares of the top suppliers to even loftier levels.

There was a wide 66-percentage point range of year-over-year growth rates among the top 50 semiconductor suppliers last year, from +56% for Nanya to -10% for Fujitsu.  Nanya rode a surge of demand for its DRAM devices to post its great full-year results.  However, evidence of a cool down in the memory market last year was evident in the company’s quarterly sales results, which saw its sales drop from $826 million in 2Q18 to $550 million in 4Q18 (a 33% plunge).  Overall, four of the top seven growth companies last year—Nanya, SK Hynix, Micron, and Samsung—were major memory suppliers.  Although Nanya registered the highest percentage increase, Samsung had the largest dollar volume semiconductor sales increase, a whopping one-year jump of $17.0 billion!

In total, only nine of the top 50 companies registered better growth as compared to the 2018 worldwide semiconductor market increase of 16%, with five companies logging increases of ≥30%.  In contrast, only three of the top 50 semiconductor companies logged a decline in sales last year, with Fujitsu being the only company to register a double-digit sales drop.

Figure 1

IC Insights is in the process of completing its forecast and analysis of the IC industry and will present its new findings in The McClean Report 2019, which will be published later this month.  Among the semiconductor industry data included in the new 400+ page report is an in-depth analysis of the IC foundry market and its suppliers.

With the recent rise of the fabless IC companies in China, the demand for foundry services has also risen in that country.  In total, pure-play foundry sales in China jumped by 30% in 2017 to $7.6 billion, triple the 9% increase for the total pure-play foundry market that year.  Moreover, in 2018, pure-play foundry sales to China surged by an amazing 41%, over 8x the 5% increase for the total pure-play foundry market last year.

As a result of a 41% increase in the China pure-play foundry market last year, China’s total share of the 2018 pure-play foundry market jumped by five percentage points to 19% as compared to 2017, exceeding the share held by the rest of the Asia-Pacific region (Figure 1).  Overall, China was responsible for essentially all of the total pure-play foundry market increase in 2018!

All of the major pure-play foundries registered double-digit sales increases to China last year, but the biggest increase by far came from pure-play foundry giant TSMC.  Following a 44% jump in 2017, TSMC’s sales into China surged by another 61% in 2018 to $6.0 billion.  The China market was responsible for essentially all of TSMC’s sales increase last year with China’s share of the company’s sales doubling from 9% in 2016 to 18% in 2018.

A great deal of TSMC’s sales surge into China in 2018 was driven by increased demand for custom devices going into the cryptocurrency market.  While TSMC enjoyed a great ramp up in sales for its cryptocurrency business through 2Q18, the company encountered a slowdown for this business in the second half of last year, which was apparent in its slower sales to China in 3Q18 and 4Q18.  The 2018 plunge in the price of Bitcoins (from over $15K per Bitcoin in January of 2018 to less than $4K in December of 2018) and other cryptocurrencies lowered the demand for these ICs.

Figure 1

With China’s share of the pure-play foundry market quickly growing (going from representing 11% of the total pure-play foundry market in 2015 to a 19% share in 2018) it comes as no surprise that many of the pure-play foundries are planning to locate or expand IC production in Mainland China.  Notably, each of the top seven pure-play foundries has plans for increasing China-based wafer fabrication production, including the five non-Chinese foundries of TSMC, GlobalFoundries, UMC, Powerchip, and TowerJazz

By Cherry Sun

“We are living in a digital world where semiconductors are taken for granted, AI is bringing semiconductors back into the deserved spotlight, and now we are witnessing the dawn of the Cognitive Era enabled by semiconductors,” SEMI president and CEO Ajit Manocha said to an audience of more than 500 during his presentation – Rebirth of the Semiconductor Industry – at the First Global IC Entrepreneur Conference.

Speaking at the Shanghai event in mid-December, Manocha recalled how, when he first entered the semiconductor industry in the 1980s, semiconductors revenue topped out at about $10 billion. Now, with sales having swelled to a staggering $450 billion, the industry is on a much faster growth track. Revenue could reach $500 billion by the end of 2020 and trillions of dollars by 2030.

Over the past two decades, chips have given rise to social media and e-commerce powerhouses such as Google, Facebook, and Alibaba. All rely on heavily on chips, the engines of data centers across all industries. Wave after wave of technology innovation have been powered by semiconductors – from mainframe computers in the 1970s, personal computers in the 1980s, the Internet in the 1990s, and mobile and social networking in the early 20th century, to the current shining stars of technology such as IoT, big data, new memory, virtual reality, autonomous driving and artificial intelligence, Manocha said. New applications across areas such as smart manufacturing and digital healthcare are stoking the latest round of semiconductor growth.

The rise of AI, like all the technologies before it, has renewed the semiconductor industry once again with its promise to drive growth of all industries worldwide, Manocha said. Five years ago, IoT was but a gleam in a technologist’s eye, more hype than reality with doubt about its viability running deep. Today, with about 60 percent of people in the world connected to the Internet, the enormous promise and potential of IoT is flowering.

Industry growth will explode as the melding of AI and IoT birth countless applications and innovations in SMART transportation (0 emissions; 0 fatalities; 0 congestion), smart sensors (agriculture, infrastructure, healthcare) and SMART “Everything” (people, devices, homes, cities, industries, and the list goes on). Indeed, AI is now widely recognized as a chief growth driver of the semiconductor industry well into the future, with semiconductor technology at the core of AI innovation, he said.

Semiconductors are thrusting the fifth industrial revolution into the fast lane. China’s much-anticipated rise as an industry powerhouse over the next few years will only accelerate industry growth, turning current disruptions into future opportunities as SEMI China continues to cultivate connection, collaboration and innovation in China’s fast-growing semiconductor sector.

Cherry Sun is a marketing manager at SEMI China. 

Total fab equipment spending in 2019 is projected to drop 8 percent, a sharp reversal from the previously forecast increase of 7 percent as fab investment growth has been revised downward for 2018 to 10 percent from the 14 percent predicted in August, according to the latest edition of the World Fab Forecast Report published by SEMI.

Entering 2018, the semiconductor industry was expected to show a rare fourth consecutive year of equipment investment growth in 2019. But the SEMI World Fab Forecast Report, tracking more than 400 fabs and lines with major investment projects, forecast in August a slowdown in the second half of 2018 and into the first half of 2019. Now, with recent industry developments, a steeper downturn in fab equipment is expected (Figure 1).

Figure 1

The report shows overall spending down 13 percent in the second half of 2018 and 16 percent in the first half of 2019 with a strong increase in fab equipment spending expected in the second half of 2019.

Plunging memory prices and a sudden shift in companies’ strategies in response to trade tensions are driving rapid drops in capital expenditures, especially among leading-edge memory manufacturers, some fabs in China, and some projects for mature nodes such as 28nm. Industry sectors expecting record-breaking growth in 2019, such as memory and China, are now leading the decline.

Following a sharp fall in NAND flash pricing earlier this year, DRAM prices in the fourth quarter of 2018 began to soften, seemingly ending the two-year DRAM boom. Inventory corrections and CPU shortages continue, prompting predictions of even steeper price declines.

Memory makers have quickly responded to changing market conditions by adjusting capital expenditures (capex), and tool orders have been put on hold. DRAM spending may see an even deeper correction in 2019 while NAND flash-related investment could also suffer a double-digit decline next year.

A review of spending by industry sector reveals that, while memory capital expenditures were expected to grow by 3 percent in 2019, they are now forecast to drop by 19 percent year-over-year (YOY). DRAM is hit the hardest with a fall of 23 percent, while 3D NAND will contract 13 percent in 2019.

China and Korea are suffering the largest drops in spending since the August report.

China fab spending falls

Projections for equipment spending in China in 2019 have been revised from US$17 billion in August to US$12 billion, with multiple factors at play including a slowing memory market, trade tensions, and delays in some project timelines.

SK Hynix is expected to slow DRAM expansion in 2019. GLOBALFOUNDRIES reconsidered its plan for the Chengdu fab, delaying the ramp. SMIC and UMC are slowing spending. The Fujian Jinhua DRAM project has been put on hold.

Korea fab spending down

In August, SEMI forecast that Korea fab equipment spending would decline by 8 percent, to US$17 billion, in 2019 – a projection that has now been slashed to US$12 billion, a drop of 35 percent YoY. Samsung began to reduce equipment investments in the fourth quarter of 2018, and the spending cuts are expected to continue into the first half of 2019. Samsung’s largest projects to be hit are P1 (slowdown) and the ramp of P2 Phase 1 (delayed). Adjustments to the S3 schedule are also expected.

Not all memory makers cut capital expenditures

While SEMI’s detailed, fab-level data show that some memory makers will scale back capital expenditures for 2019, one company stands out. Micron will increase capex for FY19 to US$10.5 billion, up about 28 percent, or $8.2 billion, from FY18. Micron plans to expand and upgrade facilities, invest less in NAND in FY19 than in FY18, and anticipates no new wafer starts.

Outlook still upbeat for mature technologies

In other sectors, especially for non-leading-edge and specialty technologies, some fabs are still increasing investments (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Opto – especially CMOS image sensors – shows strong growth, surging 33 percent to US$3.8 billion in 2019. Micro (MPU, MCU and DSP) is expected to grow more than 40 percent in 2019 to US$4.8 billion. Analog and mixed signal investments also show strong growth – 19 percent – in 2019, bringing spending to US$660 million. The foundry sector, the second largest product segment in total investments at US$13 billion, shows a 10 percent rise in 2019.

The recent three-year boom in the semiconductor market was chiefly driven by the memory sector (e.g. DRAM and 3D NAND flash). One company, Samsung, invested at unprecedented levels, lifting the entire industry. Other memory makers rode the wave of the boom cycle by boosting investments. And China’s profile rose with its huge investments. The industry was poised for four consecutive years of revenue growth – a streak not seen since the 1990s.

Now the industry faces well-known threats of inventory correction and the trade war. Both phenomena could slow growth significantly and if both unfold in full force in tandem, the impact could be serious. The data in SEMI’s latest publication of the World Fab Forecast show that the four-year growth streak will not materialize.

Since its August 2018 publication, more than 260 updates have been made to the World Fab Forecast. The report now includes more than 1,280 records of current and 115 future front-end semiconductor facilities from high-volume production to research and development. The report covers data and predictions through 2019, including milestones, detailed investments by quarter, product types, technology nodes and capacities down to fab and project level.

The SEMI World Fab Forecast examines capital expenditure plans of individual front-end device manufacturers, while the SEMI bi-annual Semiconductor Equipment Sales Forecast is based on year-to-date data collected from equipment manufacturers and modeled off of announced capital expenditure plans of both front-end and back-end equipment manufacturers.

Releasing its Year-End Total Equipment Forecast at the annual SEMICON Japan exposition, SEMI, the global industry association representing the electronics manufacturing supply chain, today reported that worldwide sales of new semiconductor manufacturing equipment are projected to increase 9.7 percent to $62.1 billion in 2018, exceeding the historic high of $56.6 billion set last year. The equipment market is expected to contract 4.0 percent in 2019 but grow 20.7 percent to reach $71.9 billion, an all-time high.

The SEMI Year-end Forecast predicts wafer processing equipment will rise 10.2 percent in 2018 to $50.2 billion. The other front-end segment – consisting of fab facilities equipment, wafer manufacturing, and mask/reticle equipment – is expected to increase 0.9 percent to $2.5 billion this year. The assembly and packaging equipment segment is projected to grow 1.9 percent to $4.0 billion in 2018, while semiconductor test equipment is forecast to increase 15.6 percent to $5.4 billion this year.

In 2018, South Korea will remain the largest equipment market for the second year in a row. China will rise in the rankings to claim the second spot for the first time, dislodging Taiwan, which will fall to the third position. All regions tracked except Taiwan, North America, and Korea will experience growth. China will lead in growth with 55.7 percent, followed by Japan at 32.5 percent, Rest of World (primarily Southeast Asia) at 23.7 percent, and Europe at 14.2 percent.

For 2019, SEMI forecasts that South Korea, China, and Taiwan will remain the top three markets, with all three regions maintaining their relative rankings. Equipment sales in South Korea is forecast to reach $13.2 billion, in China $12.5 billion, and in Taiwan $11.81 billion. Japan, Taiwan and North America are the only regions expected to experience growth next year. The growth picture is much more optimistic in 2020, with all regional markets expected to increase in 2020, with the market increasing the most in Korea, followed by China, and Rest of World.

The following results are in terms of market size in billions of U.S. dollars:

The Equipment Market Data Subscription (EMDS) from SEMI provides comprehensive market data for the global semiconductor equipment market. A subscription includes three reports:

  • Monthly SEMI Billings Report, an early perspective of the trends in the equipment market
  • Monthly Worldwide Semiconductor Equipment Market Statistics (SEMS), a detailed report of semiconductor equipment bookings and billings for seven regions and over 22 market segments
  • SEMI Mid-Year Forecast, an outlook for the semiconductor equipment market

By David W. Price, Jay Rathert and Douglas G. Sutherland

Author’s Note:The Process Watch series explores key concepts about process control—defect inspection, metrology and data analytics—for the semiconductor industry. This article is the fourth in a series on process control strategies for automotive semiconductor devices.

The first three articles1-3 in this series discussed methods that automotive semiconductor manufacturers can use to better meet the challenging quality requirements of their customers. The first paper addressed the impact of automotive IC reliability failures and the idea that combating them requires a “Zero Defect” mentality. The second paper discussed continuous improvement programs and strategies that automotive fabs implement to reduce the process defects that can become chip reliability problems. The third paper focused on the additional process control sensitivity requirements needed to capture potential latent (reliability) defects. This installment discusses excursion monitoring strategies across the entire automotive fab process so that non-conforming material can be quickly found and partitioned.

Semiconductor fabs that make automotive ICs typically offer automotive service packages (ASPs). These ASPs provide differentiated process flows – with elements such as more process control and process monitoring, or guaranteed use of golden process tools. The goal of ASPs is to help ensure that the chips produced meet the stringent reliability requirements of the automotive industry.

But even with the use of an automotive service package, excursions are inevitable, as they are with any controlled process. Recognizing this, automotive semiconductor fabs pay special attention to creating a comprehensive control plan for their critical process layers as part of their Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (PFMEA). The control plan details the process steps to be monitored and how they are monitored – specifying details such as the inspection sensitivity, sampling frequency and the exact process control systems to be used. A well-designed control plan will detect all excursions and keep “maverick” wafers from escaping the fab due to undersampling. Additionally, it will clearly indicate which wafers are affected by each excursion so that they can be quarantined and more fully dispositioned – thereby ensuring that non-conforming devices will not inadvertently ship.

To meet these objectives, the control plan of an automotive service package will invariably require much more extensive inspection and metrology coverage than the control plan for production of ICs for consumer products. An analysis of process control benchmarking data from fabs running both automotive and non-automotive products at the same design rule have shown that the fabs implement more defect inspection steps and more types of process control (inspection and metrology) for the automotive products. The data reveals that on average:

  • Automotive flows use approximately 1.5 to 2 times more defect inspection steps
  • Automotive flows employ more frequent sampling, both as a percentage of lots and number of wafers per lot
  • Automotive flows use additional sensitivity to capture the smaller defects that may affect reliability

The combined impact of these factors results in the typical automotive fab requiring 50% more process control capacity than their consumer product peers. A closer look reveals exactly how this capacity is deployed.

Figure 1 below shows an example of the number of lots between inspection points for both an automotive and a non-automotive process flow in the same fab. As a result of the increased number of inspection steps, if there is a defect excursion, it will be found much more quickly in the automotive flow. Finding the excursion sooner limits the lots at risk: a smaller and more clearly defined population of lots are exposed to the higher defect count, thereby helping serve the automotive traceability requirement. These excursion lots are then quarantined for high-sensitivity inspection of 100% of the wafers to disposition them for release, scrap, or when applicable, a downgrade to a non-automotive application.

Figure 1. Example demonstrating the lots at risk between inspection points for an automotive process flow (blue) and a non-automotive (baseline) process blow (pink). The automotive process flow has many more inspection points in the FEOL and therefore fewer lots at risk when a defect excursion does occur.

The additional inspection points in the automotive service package have the added benefit of simplifying the search for the root cause of the excursion by reducing the range of potential sources. Fewer potential sources helps speed effective 8D investigationsto find and fix the problem. Counterintuitively, the increased number of inspection points also tends to reduce production cycle time due to reduced variability in the line.5

While increasing inspection capacity helps monitor and contain process excursions, there remains risk to automotive IC quality. Because each wafer may take a unique path through the multitude of processing chambers available in the fab, the sum of minor variations and marginalities across hundreds of process steps can create “maverick” wafers. These wafers can easily slip through a control plan that relies heavily on sub-sampling, allowing at-risk die into the supply chain. To address this issue, many automotive fabs are adding high-speed macro defect inspection tools to their fleet to scan more wafers per lot. This significantly improves the probability of catching maverick wafers and preventing them from entering the automotive supply chain.

Newer generation macro defect inspection toolscan combine the sensitivity and defect capture of many older generation brightfield and darkfield wafer defect inspection tools into a single platform that can operate at nearly 150 wafers per hour, keeping cost of ownership low. In larger design rule 200mm fabs, the additional capacity often reveals multiple low-level excursions that had previously gone undetected, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. The legacy sample plan of 5 wafers per lot (yellow circles) would have allowed the single maverick wafer excursion (red square) to go undetected. High capacity macro defect inspection tools can stop escapes by reducing undersampling and the associated risks.

In advanced, smaller design rule fabs, macro defect inspection tools lack the needed sensitivity to replace the traditional line monitoring and patterned wafer excursion monitoring roles occupied by broadband plasma and laser scanning wafer defect inspection tools. However, their high capacity has found an important role in augmenting the existing sample plan to find wafer-level signatures that indicate a maverick wafer.

A recent development in automotive control strategies is the use of defect inspection for die-level screening. One such technique, known as Inline Defect Part Average Testing (I-PAT™), uses outlier detection techniques to further enhance the fab’s ability to recognize die that may pass electrical test but become reliability failures later due to latent defects. This method will be discussed in detail in the next installment of this series.

About the authors:

Dr. David W. Price and Jay Rathert are Senior Directors at KLA-Tencor Corp. Dr. Douglas Sutherland is a Principal Scientist at KLA-Tencor Corp. Over the last 15 years, they have worked directly with over 50 semiconductor IC manufacturers to help them optimize their overall process control strategy for a variety of specific markets, including implementation of strategies for automotive reliability, legacy fab cost and risk optimization, and advanced design rule time-to-market. The Process Watch series of articles attempts to summarize some of the universal lessons they have observed through these engagements.


  1. Price, Sutherland and Rathert, “Process Watch: The (Automotive) Problem With Semiconductors,” Solid State Technology, January 2018.
  2. Price, Sutherland and Rathert, “Process Watch: Baseline Yield Predicts Baseline Reliability,” Solid State Technology, March 2018.
  3. Price, Sutherland, Rathert, McCormack and Saville, “Process Watch: Automotive Defect Sensitivity Requirements,” Solid State Technology, August 2018.
  4. 8D investigations involve a systematic approach to solving problems. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight_disciplines_problem_solving
  5. Sutherland and Price, “Process Watch: Process Control and Production Cycle Time,” Solid State Technology, June 2016.
  6. For example, see: https://www.kla-tencor.com/products/chip-manufacturing/defect-inspection-review.html#product-8-series


SEMI, the global industry association serving the global electronics manufacturing supply chain, today announced the industry’s first worldwide fab data for power and compound semiconductors. The new report, Power and Compound Fab Outlook, provides comprehensive front-end semiconductor fab information and a forecast to 2022 for global manufacturing capabilities of power and compound semiconductors.

Power devices are rising in importance as energy-efficiency standards tighten to meet growing demand for power-thrifty high-end consumer electronics, wireless communications, electric vehicles, green energy, data centers, and both industrial and consumer IoT (Internet of Things) applications. Semiconductor fabs around the globe have responded with improvements to power usage in every aspect of electronics including power harvesting, delivery, transformation, storage, and consumption. Cost structure and performance are critical in power electronics, dictating the pace of market growth and technology adoption.

With compound materials driving significant gains in the energy efficiency of power devices, the Power and Compound Fab Outlook highlights particular compound materials that have been adopted in semiconductor fabs. The report is an essential business tool for anyone interested in related tool and material markets as well as power and compound materials capacity in fabs by region and wafer sizes.

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