Nearly 50 wafer fabs closed in 2009-11

by K C Krishnadas, TechOnline India - February 16, 2012

Japan and North America with most closures, 150mm wafer fabs account for 43% of closures

As many as 49 semiconductor wafer fabs were closed between 2009-2011.  Since mid-2007, the IC industry has been paring down its older capacity (i.e., ≤200mm wafers) and the decline in ≤200mm capacity picked up speed in 2009 and continued through 2010 and 2011.

This was as a result of suppliers closed or upgraded fabs that were manufacturing using smaller wafers in order to produce devices more cost-effectively on larger wafers, according to data released in IC Insights’ Global Wafer Capacity 2011-2012 report. It is also worth noting that a few of the fabs are being refurbished for production on larger wafers or for production of “non-IC” products. 

More companies are expected to shutter older fabs as they transition to the fab-lite business model or become completely fabless.  As seen in Figure 1 below, most of the fab closures from 2009-2011 were 150mm wafer fabs (43%). 

The distribution of those 49 according to wafer size are: 21 for 150mm, 13 for 200mm, 7 for 125mm, 5 for 300mm, and 3 for 100mm.  With Qimonda going out of business in early 2009, its 300mm wafer fabs became the first of their kind to cease commercial operations.



According to the Global Wafer Capacity 2011-2012 report, Japan and North America each had 17 wafer fab closures, followed by Europe with 12 and South Korea with 3 (Figure 2, below).  One wafer fab closure in Japan was a 300mm IC fab operated by Sony.  However, this fab is being retrofitted and will return to service to produce image sensors for the company. 

The Qimonda wafer fab in Sandston, Virginia, was the only 300mm wafer fab closed in North American (2009) during this time.  At the other end of the spectrum, a total of three 100mm wafer fabs were closed in the three-year span.  These included fabs owned by DALSA in Bromont, Ontario, Canada, ON Semiconductor in Piestany, Slovak Republic, and Diodes in Oldham, England.





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