Back in 2012, China ranked fifth among seven regions worldwide in IC wafer capacity but surged past the Americas and Japan in 2018 and 2019 to claim the number three position (figure 1). That’s a big deal given that ICs account for the largest share of wafer capacity excluding discrete, opto, MEMS and sensors.
China’s IC wafer capacity growth accelerated to tune of 14% in 2019 and 21% in 2020 and is expected to grow at least 17% this year, as we report in the latest update of the World Fab Forecast, published December 3rd by SEMI. Of all regions, Taiwan boasts the second strongest growth rate over the same period at 3% to 4%.
Figure 1: Total IC installed wafer capacity for top five regions
The report shows that from 2019 through the end of 2021 China will have increased wafer capacity for memory by 95%, foundry by 47% and analog by 29%. Foundry will represent the largest portion of those gains, reaching 2 million wpm (200mm equivalents). Memory will follow at about 1.5 million wpm and then analog at over 120,000 wpm.
But Chinese companies aren’t pulling off this feat singlehandedly. Many international companies are contributing to the wafer capacity increases in China (figure 2).
Figure 2: IC wafer capacity in China by company origin
The share of capacity contributed by Chinese-owned companies and international companies has changed little since 2012, though Chinese-owned companies saw a slight dip in their slice of the pie from 60% to 57%
From 2019 through 2021, Chinese-owned companies will add almost 60% capacity for foundries, the most of all sectors. Companies including SMIC, Hua Hong Semiconductor, Nexchip, XMC and Hua Li Microelectronics are driving the increases.
During the same period, Chinese-owned companies will ramp up memory capacity from basically zero to 300,000 wpm. Companies such as Yangtze Memory Technology and ChangXin Memory Technologies (CXMT), also known as Innotron, are powering the quick rise with aggressive ramps of 3D NAND and DRAM capacity.
Among international-owned companies, TSMC and UMC are driving the largest share of foundry growth, while Samsung, SK Hynix and Intel are powering gains in memory capacity.
More information is available in the World Fab Forecast report. The report currently collects information for fab equipment and construction investment, capacities, technologies and product types for over 280 fabs and lines in China alone, including 40 facilities that either began operation in 2020 or will from 2021 through 2024.
Christian G. Dieseldorff is senior principal analyst in the Industry Research and Analysis group at SEMI in Milpitas, California.