Semiconductor Photomask Market: Forecasted to be $3.3 billion in 2015

Semiconductor Photomask Market: Forecasted to be $3.3 billion in 2015

by Lara Chamness, senior market analyst, SEMI Industry Research and Statistics

The worldwide semiconductor photomask market was $3.1 billion in 2013 and is forecasted to reach $3.3 billion in 2015. After contracting 3 percent in 2012 the photomask market increased 1 percent in 2013. The mask market is expected to grow 3 percent sequentially over the next two years. Key drivers in this market continue to be advanced technology feature sizes (less than 45 nm) and increased manufacturing in Asia-Pacific. Taiwan remains the largest photomask regional market for the fourth year in a row and is expected to continue as the largest market for the duration of the forecast.

2013 Regional Photomask Market


Source: SEMI Photomask Characterization Summary Report – March 2014

In 2003, captive mask houses represented 31% of the total photomask market. Captive mask houses have been slowly gaining market share since 2007. The industry currently has four primary merchant mask shops: Dai Nippon Printing, Hoya, Photronics, and Toppan. Captive mask houses, aided by intense capital expenditures in 2011 and 2012 and a weakening Yen in 2013*, accelerated their market gains at merchant suppliers’ expense last year. Captive mask suppliers accounted for 49 percent of the total photomask market last year, up from 42 percent in 2012. 

Despite this trend of merchant shops losing market share, merchant shops serve two vital functions to the photomask industry. These include servicing standard mask sets that are typically larger than 45nm as well as providing back-up manufacturing capability in the event of a service disruption such as a natural disaster or fab fire.

The most daunting challenge being faced by photomask suppliers is economic; as geometries shrink, more advanced photomask tools and materials are required but due to limited customers migrating to smaller geometries and the increasing role of captive photomask shops, merchant photomask suppliers must balance a shrinking market with escalating costs. As a result many strategic lithography relationships have emerged between mask makers, device manufacturers, and research institutes.

It remains to be seen how the industry will maintain Moore’s law as the costs of advanced lithography increase faster than increased device density gains. What is clear is that the photomask market is mature and that captive shops, with their deep pockets are assuming an increasingly important role. That said merchant shops still serve a vital function by servicing standard mask sets and providing manufacturing capability in the event of a service disruption.

A recent SEMI published report, Photomask Characterization Summary, provides details on the 2013 Photomask Market for seven regions of world including North America, Japan, Europe, Taiwan, Korea, China, and Rest of World. The report also includes data for each of these regions from 2006 to 2015 and summarizes lithography developments over the past year. 

To find out additional information on this new report, please click here for additional information including a list of tables and figures.

*For a more detailed discussion of the impact on the semiconductor equipment and materials market please refer to Dan Tracy’s article in the March issue of SEMI Global Update.

May 6, 2014