As demand for 200mm equipment has risen, the shortfall in manufacturing has become startling. Between 60% and 80% of the chips for smartphones and tablets require wafers of this size.
Prices of 200mm fabs have risen to reflect scarcity. The supply base had already begun to shrink by January 2017. Running at 100% capacity beats shuttering 200mm fabs, but the inability to increase capacity means weak revenue growth. With several years of increasing demand expected, this is more than a short-term crunch.
Suppliers haven’t managed to meet rising demand because manufacturing equipment is difficult to source. The supply of new tools continues to dwindle, and manufacturers are relying heavily on used equipment.
This is excellent news for equipment refurbishers, who have been struggling to stay afloat, but chipmakers are in trouble. UMV vice president, Walter Ng, expects the rest of 2017 to come without a genuine solution. SurplusGlobal claims that there are only 1,000 200mm cores on offer, and yet demand has risen to 5,000. China is currently the world’s chief 200mm fab manufacturer, guided by the country’s investment in advanced process technologies such as touch display drivers and fingerprint sensors.
Applied Global Services estimates their 200mm tool sales will double this year after 80,000 new wafer starts per month were added only last year. The Internet of Things has caused a rebound that 300mm wafers will have to absorb where possible. The rest of the shortage is already being reflected in consumer prices.
To read more and view trends, read the full article on Semiconductor Engineering.