Taiwan to Lead Semiconductor Equipment and Materials Spending in 2013 — to Reach US$ 20 Billion

Taiwan to Lead Semiconductor Equipment and Materials Spending in 2013 — to Reach US$ 20 Billion

ASE, Etron Technology, HMI, Inotera Memories, and other Major Suppliers Remain Optimistic for 2014 

By SEMI Taiwan

In recent years, Taiwan has become the world center for semiconductors with manufacturers investing heavily in both hardware and materials. It is expected that totaling spending for these segments in Taiwan will be on the order of $20 billion for 2013 and growing into 2014.  Mr. Terry Tsao, president of SEMI Taiwan, stated, "Taiwan's top position in equipment and material investments has yet again demonstrated the nation's irreplaceable importance in the global semiconductor industry. As semiconductor processes advance, equipment and materials will become increasingly integral to the industry. SEMI will continue to bridge the equipment and material suppliers with the fabricators and design companies to further advance the semiconductor industry in Taiwan."

Global Material Expenditures in 2013 by Region 

 Global Material Expenditures

                        (Source: SEMI Materials Market Data Subscription, Aug 2013) 

In addition to remaining optimistic towards the semiconductor equipment and material markets, major suppliers including Etron Technology, Inotera Memories, ASE, and Hermes Microvison also presented their views on the industry outlook and technology roadmap at the pre-show press conference.

Viewpoint: Dr. Nicky Lu, CEO, Etron Technology

“In the past three years, the output of global semiconductor industry reached US$300 billion U.S. dollars each year, but the growth rate is limited,” says Dr. Nicky Lu, the CEO of Etron Technology and the chairman of TSIA. “It reflects an increase in volume but a decrease in price of the semiconductors. We should pay attention and sincerely consider the issue — ‘How to Significantly Grow the Semiconductor Industry and Attract Top Talent to Join our Industry.’ This issue is equally important for Taiwan and the global semiconductor industry. With the global semiconductor leaders convened at SEMICON Taiwan 2013, the industry stakeholders can and should work together to ensure the industry’s significantly growth in the future.”

“Now, the Taiwan semiconductor industry is placed third in the global semiconductor industry after more than 30 years of effort. It has not only contributed to the economic growth of Taiwan, but also contributed to the global economy. However, challenges are now facing the semiconductor industry, such as: fierce price competition, rapid technical renovation but shortened product life cycle, outflow of talents, and more. The organizations and associations in the industry need more active cooperation. SEMI and TSIA have always been committed to strengthen the competitiveness of the semiconductor industry, to facilitate the industry vendors to join the international conference, to lead the development of the technical specifications, to keep the technology with new innovations. I believe the cooperation between SEMI and TSIA will facilitate future growth of the semiconductor industry,” Lu adds.

“In 2004, I was the first person to propose Heterogeneous Integration (HI) Trends and needs in 3D-IC trends and the new business model — the new Clustered Virtual-Vertical Integration (CVVI). With the three-dimensional stacked 3D-IC gradually becoming a mainstream technology, it may extend the life of Moore's Law. Thus, it is believed that the semiconductor industry will set off a new wave of growth. The development of 3D-IC, DRAM, SOC, Mixed-Signal IC, and Analog technology and design are essential to the 3D-IC success. Etron is specializing in Memory IC, plus logic and analog ICs design and products. With capability of independent innovation, Etron plays a key role in providing products and services of the 3D-IC Era,” says Lu.

Viewpoint: Scott Meikle, general manager, Inotera Memories

According to Scott Meikle of Inotera, both the supply and demand side of the market have undergone substantial changes through 2013.  With the Elpida-Micron merger, we are now down to three main suppliers. On the demand side, the proliferation of mobile devices as well as continued development of server, network, consumer and automotive markets have substantially diversified the end market picture for DRAM. Overall, he says, the forces of supply and demand are driving to a condition where we are less likely to see the extreme cycles in pricing and market conditions as we've seen with DRAM in the past.

Meikle states that it is difficult to identify a single driver in memory products, but the proliferation of a variety of microprocessor formats in mobile, computing, server and other end applications is driving a more diversified DRAM market.  Meeting the needs of a diversified market is both a challenge and an opportunity for the DRAM supply chain.  A challenge because of the complexity — but an opportunity because the complexity should drive more value into the supply chain.

Viewpoint: Dr. Ho-Ming Tong, general manager and chief R&D officer, ASE Group

According to Dr. Ho-Ming Tong, GM and chief R&D officer of ASE Group, in this decade, better user experience is the most important driving force for the semiconductor industry covering IC, package, system and service.

Better user experience is almost synonymous to cloud computing.  Today, he says, it is fair to say that SiPs help enable cloud computing as SiPs are omnipresent in the three ingredients of cloud computing: 4C client systems, connectivity and servers and data storage units at data centers.

SiPs are already omnipresent today in smart phones.  Going forward, Tong believes that there will be more SiPs in other 4C systems, more SiPs in servers and data storage units at data centers, and more SiPs in new IoT (Internet of Things) devices which are basically wireless sensors.  IoT devices here include wearable devices such as Google Glass and smart watches from SONY and Pebble now, and possibly from Samsung and  Apple in the future, according to media reports.  With the coming-of-age of IoT, he says that we are entering into an era of nC systems with n far greater than 4. This presents huge business opportunities beyond 4 Cs, not just for SiPs, but also for IC, MEMS, photonics, servers, data storage units, APPs and services.

In these applications, SiP represents either a primary system differentiator or the only solution, says Tong.  ASE provides solutions to all key SiPs including 2.5D and 3D ICs, which is a focus of SEMICON Taiwan’s SiP Global Summit this year.  Among the SiP technologies to watch for the next few years, he would vote for 2.5D-IC, 3D-IC, optical interconnect and IoT related SiPs. He says that SiP is not just a package thing; that SiP can be Silicon IP and System-in-a-Package combined into one package besides MEMS and photonics devices. Collaboration between IC, package and other industries such as MEMS and photonics is crucial for maximal benefits. 

Viewpoint: C.Y. Hsu, chairman of Hermes Microvision, Inc.  

According to ITRI, the annual growth rate for the semiconductor hardware industry in Taiwan averaged 122 percent over the past three years. Local Taiwanese suppliers including HMI, Gongin Precision, Hiwin Mikro, Marketech International, Sinbon, and Guden have successfully entered the semiconductor industry chain with support from the Ministry of Economic Affairs. In the future, Taiwan must step up from the foundry business to become a major supplier for the global semiconductor equipment industry with its competitive core strategy.

C.Y. Hsu, chairman of Hermes Microvision (HMI), mentioned that although 28.7 percent of equipment expenditures in 2013 from the global semiconductor industry was contributed by Taiwan, the self-sufficiency rate was only 16.1 percent within the nation. Equipment suppliers must be constantly aware of market challenges, such as slow growth of the electronic industry, less demand for new equipment, and a reduced total number of clients, or they could risk being dropped off the client's already short list of choices.

He also describes the semiconductor equipment industry as a highly competitive oligopoly that requires immense technological “know how,” abundant patent portfolios, and has long development cycles. Understanding market demand and trends, core technologies, building a strong team of experts, differentiating technology, lowering costs, improving customer satisfaction, and most importantly, gaining sufficient capital support, are the keys to overcoming the competition and improving the semiconductor equipment industry in Taiwan. 

For more information on SEMI Market Information, including Equipment Market, Materials Market, Packaging Market, Fab Database, Book-to-Bill, Silicon Shipment Statistics, please visit: www.semi.org/en/MarketInfo

October 1, 2013