SIA finally releases semiconductor fab capacity report

The long awaited Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) worldwide fab capacity report has finally arrived.

The semiconductor international capacity statistics (SICAS) are already a couple of months behind schedule, with the Japanese earthquake thought to be one of the reasons for the delay on the usual May release.

But it seems the wait has been worth it as semi capacity and production both grew despite the disaster in Japan.

The SICAS report shows that the total semiconductor fab facility has grown 7.0 percent from last year, with a 0.9 percent rise during the first quarter.

Furthermore the actual wafer starts were up 1.9 from the final quarter of last year, a 7.3 percent increase over the same point last year.

This all meant that semi fab were largely running near total capacity, reach 93.7 percent utilisation during the first quarter.

In terms of IC capacity, there was a 0.9 sequential growth in capacity, meaning 6.5 percent yearly.

For actual wafer starts this was 2.0 percent from the preceding quarter and 7.6 percent over the course of the year, meaning 94.2 percent utilisation.

For discreet chips there was 1.6 percent gowth over the quarter in terms of capacity, seeing 12.5 percent growth year on year.

This meant 0.5 percent increase sequentially and 4.2 percent yearly, with 89.4 percent utilisation.

For more information on the fab capacity stats see the report here.

Of course the tardiness with which the information has been supplied to the industry is cause for concern.

According to Future Horizons’ chip expert Malcolm the earthquake it is “not that difficult” to provide accurate stats which are important to the chip industry.

“Timely reliable data is important,” he told TechEye. “This is a good indicator of future industry health.”

“If on 31 March the factory was either destroyed or not working, this capacity is not available so net capacity takes a dive down.”

“Either then the fab is never reopened (Freescale) or comes back active (Renesas) and the capacity jumps back up again, albeit not to the same level.” 

“These are supposed to be factual statement of capacity … seems like there’s a whiff of polittics in the numbers … that’s bad.” 

“Sounds too like the new programme manager is not a seasoned chip person but more a ‘form filler’, that’s bad too.”

“There have also been far too many WSTS number (billion dollar) restatements of late as well, another hint that all is not a smooth-running ship and that the people running the stats do not understand the numbers.”