More than 30 fabs to close in '09, says analyst

TechOnline India - July 14, 2009

By the time it's all said and done, more than 30 semiconductor fabs will shut their doors this year as chip companies cut capacity in response to the downturn, according to Christian Gregor Dieseldorff, senior analyst and director of market research for the SEMI trade group.

SAN FRANCISCO — By the time it's all said and done, more than 30 semiconductor fabs will shut their doors this year as chip companies cut capacity in response to the downturn, according to Christian Gregor Dieseldorff, senior analyst and director of market research for the SEMI trade group.

In 2002, during the last major semiconductor industry downturn, more than 60 fabs were closed, Dieseldorff said.

Eight of the fabs that have or are expected to close this year are logic fabs, according to Dieseldorff. Seven belonged to memory chip makers, some of which have closed fabs to combat overcapacity while others have gone out of business. Six of the fabs are discrete IC fabs and six are analog facilities, Dieseldorff said.

Most of the discarded fabs used 200-mm or smaller wafers. Some were 4- or 5-inch fabs, Dieseldorff said. Seventeen of the fabs that have or are expected to close in 2009 were located in North America, he said.

Mainly as the result of the fab closures, overall installed capacity for 2009 may decline by almost 3 percent to about 15 million wafers per month, Dieseldorff said. Installed capacity for 2010 is expected to increase by 4 to 5 percent to roughly 16 million wafers per month as some fabs come online or continue to ramp production, according to Dieseldorff.

Dieseldorff said he expects about 16 fabs to close their doors in 2010.

Spending on equipping front-end facilities is expected to decline to about $13 billion, down 48 percent from 2008, Dieseldorff. This would be the lowest level of spending since 1994, he said.

Still, despite the downturn, five fab construction projects are to break ground in 2009, Dieseldorff said. Another six are set to break ground next year, he said.

Nine fabs are expected to start operations in 2009, including seven volume manufacturing fabs, said Dieseldorff. Another 13 are set to kick off next year, including 10 volume manufacturing facilities, he said.

Spending on fab construction projects in 2009 is expected to be below $2 billion, the lowest in 10 years, according to Dieseldorf. Fab construction spending in 2010 looks to be over $2.5 billion, he said.

Dieseldorff said the number of fab closures in 2009 was set to be closer to 35, but that NEC Corp. had pulled back on plans to close some facilities.

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