Global silicon shipments to rise

Global silicon shipments in terms of square inches will rise to record levels in 2010.

According to iSuppli shipments of silicon for semiconductor manufacturing in 2010 will grow by 23.6 percent year-over-year, reaching 8.9 billion total square inches. This, the company said is up from 7.2 billion square inches in 2009. And it gets better with the company predicting that by 2014, 12.4 billion total square inches of silicon will be shipped.

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Len Jelinek, director and chief analyst for semiconductor manufacturing and supply at iSuppli, said: “Following the recession of late 2008 and 2009, chip manufacturers spent the first half of 2010 striving to reverse the damage they had suffered.

“Visibility in the second half of 2010 remains limited even as the all-important holiday season inches closer. The good news is that barring any new collapse, silicon suppliers will have sufficient orders on the books to carry them through the third and fourth quarters. And while growth in 2011 won’t match the high expansion rate seen in 2010, iSuppli anticipates that the semiconductor industry will require additional increases in silicon shipments of about 13 percent compared to 2010 shipment rates to meet the projected development.”

 
The company said that the demand for silicon in 12-inch wafers continues to rise at a rate that will outperform the industry average for silicon through 2014. However it warned that in order to maintain growth, silicon suppliers must continue to expand 12-inch wafer manufacturing.

And it gets better after this year with iSuppli saying it expects to see a greater emphasis on shifting to even more 12-inch wafer manufacturing. Mixed signal and other technologies will be moving to 12-inch wafers as a result of older 12-inch tools no longer being cost effective for the manufacturing of leading-edge technology products, the company said.

It’s also a good future for 12-inch wafer manufacturing with the company claiming that over the next five years the availability of additional mature manufacturing capacity and tools will speed up the conversion to 12-inch wafer manufacturing for products such as analogue and mixed signal devices.
 
However it’s bad news for the 18-inch wafer with iSuppli predicting a snails pace for this piece of technology within five years. It said it did not anticipate the technology will commence manufacturing for at least five more years. Even then, the costs may prove to be prohibitive.

It said that while a few companies and consortiums are discussing the idea of manufacturing 18-inch wafers, the dilemma for equipment costs continues to loom as the final hurdle toward adoption.