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Semi Capex Forecast to Exceed $100B for the First Time in 2018

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018
IC Insights raises its full-year spending growth forecast for this year from 8% to 14%.
IC Insights recently released its May Update to the 2018 McClean Report.  This Update included a look at the top-25 1Q18 semiconductor suppliers, a discussion of the 1Q18 IC industry market results, and an update of the 2018 capital spending forecast by company.Overall, the capital spending story for 2018 is becoming much more positive as compared with the forecast presented in IC Insights’ March Update to The McClean Report 2018 (MR18).  In the March Update, IC Insights forecast an 8% increase in semiconductor industry capital spending for this year. However, as shown in Figure 1, IC Insights has raised its expectations for 2018 capital spending by six percentage points to a 14% increase.  If this increase occurs, it would be the first time that semiconductor industry capital outlays exceeded $100 billion.  The worldwide 2018 capital spending forecast figure is 53% higher than the spending just two years earlier in 2016.

Although Samsung says it still does not have a full-year capital spending forecast for this year it did say it will spend “less” in semiconductor capital outlays in 2018 as compared to 2017, when it spent $24.2 billion.  However, as of 1Q18, with regard to its capex, its “foot is still on the gas!”  Samsung spent $6.72 billion in capex for its semiconductor division in 1Q18, slightly higher than the average of the previous three quarters.  This figure is almost 4x the amount the company spent just two years earlier in 1Q16!  Over the past four quarters, Samsung has spent an incredible $26.6 billion in capital outlays for its semiconductor group. Wow!

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Thirteen Top-15 1Q18 Semi Suppliers Register Double-Digit Gains

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018
Samsung extends its number one ranking and sales lead over Intel to 23%.
IC Insights will release its May Update to the 2018 McClean Report later this month.  This Update includes a discussion of the 1Q18 IC industry market results, an update of the 2018 capital spending forecast by company, and a look at the top-25 1Q18 semiconductor suppliers (the top-15 1Q18 semiconductor suppliers are covered in this research bulletin).

The top-15 worldwide semiconductor (IC and O-S-D—optoelectronic, sensor, and discrete) sales ranking for 1Q18 is shown in Figure 1.  It includes eight suppliers headquartered in the U.S., three in Europe, two in South Korea, and one each in Taiwan and Japan.  After announcing in early April 2018 that it had successfully moved its headquarters location from Singapore to the U.S. IC Insights now classifies Broadcom as a U.S. company.

The top-15 ranking includes one pure-play foundry (TSMC) and four fabless companies.  If TSMC were excluded from the top-15 ranking, Taiwan-based fabless supplier MediaTek ($1,696 million) would have been ranked in the 15th position.

IC Insights includes foundries in the top-15 semiconductor supplier ranking since it has always viewed the ranking as a top supplier list, not a marketshare ranking, and realizes that in some cases the semiconductor sales are double counted.  With many of our clients being vendors to the semiconductor industry (supplying equipment, chemicals, gases, etc.), excluding large IC manufacturers like the foundries would leave significant “holes” in the list of top semiconductor suppliers.  As shown in the listing, the foundries and fabless companies are identified.  In the April Update to The McClean Report, marketshare rankings of IC suppliers by product type were presented and foundries were excluded from these listings.
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TSMC Continues to Dominate the Worldwide Foundry Market

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018
only eight companies held 88% of global foundry market last year.

Research included in the recently released 50-page April Update to the 2018 edition of IC Insights’ McClean Report shows that in 2017, the top eight major foundry leaders (i.e., sales of ≥$1.0 billion) held 88% of the $62.3 billion worldwide foundry market (Figure 1).  The 2017 share was the same level as in 2016 and one point higher than the share the top eight foundries represented in 2015.  With the barriers to entry (e.g., fab costs, access to leading edge technology, etc.) into the foundry business being so high and rising, IC Insights expects this “major” marketshare figure to remain at or near this elevated level in the future.TSMC, by far, was the leader with $32.2 billion in sales last year.  In fact, TSMC’s 2017 sales were over 5x that of second-ranked GlobalFoundries and more than 10x the sales of the fifth-ranked foundry SMIC.


Figure 1

Semiconductor Leaders’ Marketshares Surge Over the Past 10 Years

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018
Top 25 companies held more than three-fourths of worldwide semiconductor market.

Research included in the April Update to the 2018 edition of IC Insights’ McClean Report shows that the world’s leading semiconductor suppliers significantly increased their marketshare over the past decade. The top-5 semiconductor suppliers accounted for 43% of the world’s semiconductor sales in 2017, an increase of 10 percentage points from 10 years earlier (Figure 1).  In total, the 2017 top-50 suppliers represented 88% of the total $444.7 billion worldwide semiconductor market last year, up 12 percentage points from the 76% share the top 50 companies held in 2007.

Figure 1

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IC Insights Raises 2018 IC Market Forecast from 8% to 15%

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018
Increased expectations for the DRAM and NAND flash markets spur upward revision.

IC Insights’ latest market, unit, and average selling price forecasts for 33 major IC product segments for 2018 through 2022 is included in the March Update to the 2018 McClean Report (MR18).  The Update also includes an analysis of the major semiconductor suppliers’ capital spending plans for this year.The biggest adjustments to the original MR18 IC market forecasts were to the memory market; specifically the DRAM and NAND flash segments.  The DRAM and NAND flash memory market growth forecasts for 2018 have been adjusted upward to 37% for DRAM (13% shown in MR18) and 17% for NAND flash (10% shown in MR18).

The big increase in the DRAM market forecast for 2018 is primarily due to a much stronger ASP expected for this year than was originally forecast.  IC Insights now forecasts that the DRAM ASP will register a 36% jump in 2018 as compared to 2017, when the DRAM ASP surged by an amazing 81%.  Moreover, the NAND flash ASP is forecast to increase 10% this year, after jumping by 45% in 2017.  In contrast to strong DRAM and NAND flash ASP increases, 2018 unit volume growth for these product segments is expected to be up only 1% and 6%, respectively.

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Integrated Circuit Technology Advances Continue to Amaze

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Despite increasing costs of development, IC manufacturers are still making great strides.

The success and proliferation of integrated circuits has largely hinged on the ability of IC manufacturers to continue offering more performance and functionality for the money. Driving down the cost of ICs (on a per-function or per-performance basis) is inescapably tied to a growing arsenal of technologies and wafer-fab manufacturing disciplines as mainstream CMOS processes reach their theoretical, practical, and economic limits. Among the many levers being pulled by IC designers and manufacturers are: feature-size reductions, introduction of new materials and transistor structures, migration to larger-diameter silicon wafers, higher throughput in fab equipment, increased factory automation, three-dimensional integration of circuitry and chips, and advanced IC packaging and holistic system-driven design approaches.

For logic-oriented processes, companies are fabricating leading-edge devices such as high-performance microprocessors, low-power application processors, and other advanced logic devices using the 14nm and 10nm generations (Figure 1). There is more variety than ever among the processes companies offer, making it challenging to compare them in a fair and useful way. Moreover, “plus” or derivative versions of each process generation and half steps between major nodes have become regular occurrences.
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Top 10 Semiconductor R&D Spenders Increase Outlays 6% in 2017

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Intel far surpasses others with R&D spending of $13.1 billion in 2017 and accounts for 36% of expenditures among Top R&D spenders.

The ten largest semiconductor R&D spenders increased their collective expenditures to $35.9 billion in 2017, an increase of 6% compared to $34.0 billion in 2016. Intel continued to far exceed all other semiconductor companies with R&D spending that reached $13.1 billion. In addition to representing 21.2% of its semiconductor sales last year, Intel’s R&D spending accounted for 36% of the top 10 R&D spending and about 22% of total worldwide semiconductor R&D expenditures of $58.9 billion in 2017, according to the 2018 edition of The McClean Report that was released in January 2018. Figure 1 shows IC Insights’ ranking of the top semiconductor R&D spenders, including both semiconductor manufacturers and fabless suppliers.


Figure 1
Intel’s R&D expenditures increased just 3% in 2017, below its 8% average annual growth rate since 2001, according to the new report. Still, Intel’s R&D spending exceeded the combined R&D spending of the next four companies—Qualcomm, Broadcom, Samsung, and Toshiba—listed in the ranking.
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New IC Manufacturing Lines to Boost Total Industry Wafer Capacity 8%

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Wafer capacity growth of 8% forecast for 2018 and 2019 versus 4.8% average yearly growth from 2012-2017.

IC industry wafer capacity, specifically in the memory segment, was inadequate to meet demand throughout 2017. However, with Samsung, SK Hynix, Micron, Intel, Toshiba/WD, and XMC/Yangtze River Storage Technology planning to significantly ramp up 3D NAND flash capacity over the next few years, and Samsung and SK Hynix boosting DRAM capacity this year and next, what does this mean for total industry capacity growth? In its 2018-2022 Global Wafer Capacity report, IC Insights shows that new manufacturing lines are expected to boost industry capacity 8% in both 2018 and 2019 (Figure 1). From 2017-2022, annual growth in IC industry capacity is forecast to average 6.0% compared to 4.8% average growth from 2012-2017.


Figure 1

Large swings in the addition or contraction of wafer capacity by the industry, as a whole, appear to be moderating. Since 2010, annual changes in wafer capacity volume have been in the relatively narrow range of 2-8%, with the largest year-to-year difference being just three percentage points. This suggests that IC manufacturers are better today than in years past about trying to match supply with demand. It’s still an incredibly difficult task for companies to gauge how much capacity will be needed to meet demand from customers, especially given the time it takes a company to move from the decision to build a new fab to that fab being ready for mass production.
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Mobile System on Chip Designs, Embedded Processing Lift MPU Market

Thursday, February 1st, 2018
Though accounting for less than half of total MPU sales, data-handling cellphones, tablets, and MPUs for embedded processing applications to keep MPU market active through 2022.

Microprocessors, which first appeared in the early 1970s as 4-bit computing devices for calculators, are among the most complex integrated circuits on the market today.  During the past four decades, powerful microprocessors have evolved into highly parallel multi-core 64-bit designs that contain all the functions of a computer’s central processing unit (CPU) as well as a growing number of system-level functions and accelerator blocks for graphics, video, and emerging artificial intelligence (AI) applications.  MPUs are the “brains” of personal computers, servers, and large mainframes, but they can also be used for embedded processing in a wide range of systems, such as networking gear, computer peripherals, medical and industrial equipment, cars, televisions, set-top boxes, video-game consoles, wearable products and Internet of Things applications.  The recently released 2018 edition of IC Insights’ McClean Report shows that the fastest growing types of microprocessors in the last five years have been mobile system-on-chip (SoC) designs for tablets and data-handling cellphones and MPUs used in embedded-processing applications (Figure 1).

Figure 1

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Value of Semiconductor Industry M&A Deals Slows Dramatically in 2017

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018
Numerous smaller deals were made but “megadeals” were scarce last year.

The historic flood of merger and acquisition agreements that swept through the semiconductor industry in 2015 and 2016 slowed significantly in 2017, but the total value of M&A deals reached in the year was still more than twice the annual average in the first half of this decade, according to IC Insights’ new 2018 McClean Report, which becomes available this month.  Subscribers to The McClean Report can attend one of the upcoming half-day seminars (January 23 in Scottsdale, AZ; January 25 in Sunnyvale, CA; and January 30 in Boston, MA) that discuss the highlights of the report free of charge.In 2017, about two dozen acquisition agreements were reached for semiconductor companies, business units, product lines, and related assets with a combined value of $27.7 billion compared to the record-high $107.3 billion set in 2015 and the $99.8 billion total in 2016 (Figure 1).  Prior to the explosion of semiconductor acquisitions that erupted several years ago, M&A agreements in the chip industry had a total annual average value of about $12.6 billion between 2010 and 2015.


Figure 1

Two large acquisition agreements accounted for 87% of the M&A total in 2017, and without them, the year would have been subpar in terms of the typical annual value of announced transactions.  The falloff in the value of semiconductor acquisition agreements in 2017 suggests that the feverish pace of M&A deals is finally cooling off.  M&A mania erupted in 2015 when semiconductor acquisitions accelerated because a growing number of companies began buying other chip businesses to offset slow growth rates in major end-use applications (such as smartphones, PCs, and tablets) and to expand their reach into huge new market opportunities, like the Internet of Things (IoT), wearable systems, and highly “intelligent” embedded electronics, including the growing amount of automated driver-assist capabilities in new cars and fully autonomous vehicles in the not-so-distant future.

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