Albany, NY -- (ReleaseWire) -- 01/29/2014 -- After two years of recession, the semiconductor equipment market is projected to achieve growth in 2014. In 2011, the semiconductor equipment market size hit a record high of USD43.532 billion, but it witnessed a drop by 15.2% in 2012 and a further decline by 8.1% in 2013. The reduction came mainly as the steep decrease of backlog orders from North America and South Korea. Notably, the contracted orders from North America resulted largely from the glooming PC market and Intel’s reduction of capital expenditure for equipment, while the shrinkage of orders from South Korea was heavily duel to the suspension of investment in DRAM.
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In 2014, the driving force of the semiconductor equipment market is mainly sourced from foundry and memory. In particular, foundry began to step into 20nm domain, while memory is ushering in 3D era. In the era of 20nm, semiconductor vendors employ two routes: double/multiple patterning and EUV. Double/multiple patterning is more technologically advanced than EUV, although it means substantial cost rise in manufacturing and equipments, especially for etching equipments.
EUV can cut the manufacturing and equipments cost significantly, albeit EUV itself costs as high as USD100 million. But counted by the total cost, 14nm wafer equipped with EUV technology is roughly 40% lower than that equipped with multiple patterning technology. However, there are many hurdles for EUV remained to be addressed. One of them is light source. Multiple e-beam direct write is well low-efficiency, thus failing to meet the standard for practical use.
Equipment vendors have failed to catch up with the development of foundry, especially the ASML which almost monopolize the global lithography market, so foundry will have to slow down their pace towards advanced node. The cost of multiple patterning may be OK for customers, but it is not the case when it comes to the cost of triple patterning. Nevertheless, this cannot prevent industrial players from making continued research, so the procurement of equipments still keeps growing.
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The semiconductor equipment industry is experiencing ceaseless integration. Take Applied Material for example, it took over second-ranked Tokyo Electron in 2013, further consolidating its position with the market occupancy in the etching market on a big rise.
Taiwan became the largest semiconductor equipment market. Taiwan-based industrial players such as TSMC and UMC make bulk buying of advanced equipments. The estimate shows that Taiwan semiconductor equipment market size will bag USD10.99 billion by 2014 and that the figure by 2015 will slightly decline to USD10.88 billion.
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