According to Malcolm Penn, CEO, Future Horizons, the outlook for the global semiconductor industry in 2013 is likely to be +7.9 percent. This means, the global semiconductor industry will likely grow to $315.4 billion in 2013.
Should this happen, it would be significant, given that this is the third year in a row that the market failed to break the $300 billion barrier! The global semiconductor clocked around $292.3 billion in 2012, as against $299.5 billion In 2011.
I asked Malcolm Penn the rationale behind this. He said, the rationale is exactly the same as that for 2012. There is said to be no change to last year’s fundamental market analyses. That’s not all! There are likely to be exactly the same (economic) downside risks as well.
The unit demand, capacity and ASPs are all ‘positively aligned’. Here, it is advised that one should never underestimate the economy’s capacity to derail the chip market. Even the downside forecast has been to break the $300 billion barrier.
The global chip industry growth is driven by four factors. These are economy, which is on hold due to complete loss of confidence, unit demand, which is back on the 10 percent per annum treadmill (inventory gone), fab capacity, which is currently tight (very), especially at the leading technology edge, and ASPs, which are structurally following the usual ups and downs.
There is a very safe, long-term bet, provided companies execute properly. As it is, most firms don’t, as they are too pre-occupied with chasing short-term targets.
Finally, if the year 2013 does show a recovery, the global semiconductor market will likely go ballistic in 2014.
The last decade heralded a dramatic transformation in supply chain dynamics, driven by the complexity challenge of staying on the More Moore curve. On the demand side, the high cost of fabs persuaded almost all integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) to use foundries for their leading-edge wafer supply.
The ever-increasing process complexity and its negative impact on manufacturing yields forced the adoption of sophisticated foundry-specific design-for manufacturing (DFM) techniques, effectively committing new chip designs to a single foundry and process.
At the same time, the industry adopted a much more cautious lagging rather than leading demand approach to new capacity expansion, resulting in under-supply and shortages in leading-edge wafer fab capacity. To make matters worse, the traditional oxide-based planar transistor started to misbehave at the 130nm node, as manifested by low yields and higher than anticipated power dissipation, especially when the transistors were supposed to be off, with no increase in performance, heralding the introduction of new process techniques (e.g., high-k metal gates).
Even before these structural changes have been fully digested, supply chain dynamics have been further disrupted by the prospective transition to 450mm wafer processing, to extreme ultra violet (EUV) lithography, and from planar to vertical transistor design.
Since the start of the industry, adding more IC functionality while simultaneously decreasing power consumption and increasing switching speed—a technique fundamentally known as Moore’s Law—has been achieved by simply making the transistor structure smaller. This worked virtually faultlessly down to the 130nm node when quite unexpectedly things did not work as planned. Power went up, speed did not improve and process yields collapsed. Simple scaling no longer worked, and new IC design techniques were needed.
While every attempt was made to prolong the life of the classic planar transistor structure, out went the polysilicon/silicon dioxide gate; although this transition was far from plain sailing, in came high-k metal gates spanning 65nm-28nm nodes. Just as the high-k metal gate structure gained industry-wide consensus at 28nm, it too ran out of steam at the 22nm-16nm nodes, forcing the introduction of more complex vertical versus planar transistor design and making the IC design even more process-dependent (i.e., foundry-dependent). Dual foundry sourcing, already impractical for the majority of semiconductor firms, will only get worse as line widths continue to shrink. Read more…
This is a summary by Malcolm Penn, chairman and CEO, Future Horizons. For those who wish to know more, please get in touch with me or Future Horizons.
It was all going so well at the beginning of March when January’s WSTS results were released. The oil and North African issues were being taken in their stride. Then, less than two weeks later, the earthquake and tsunami disaster struck Japan and by the close of the month, the Gaddafi Libyan regime was under western international airstrike siege.
Given the fragility of industry’s confidence since the Lehman Brothers crisis, the industry has weathered these ‘incidents’ with remarkable sanguinity, with concerns focused purely on supply not demand-side issues. In our view this underlines what we have been saying all along; the 2010 recovery and 2011 outlook were both stronger than most people thought.
The industry’s biggest problems in 2011 were always going to be supply not demand driven; the situation in Japan has simply amplified and accelerated their coming.
The chip industry took March’s one-two-three knocks with remarkable calm, hit first by the spike in oil prices following the politic unrest bordering on civil wars in North Africa, then the dreadful 11 March earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, culminating on 19 March with a multi-state coalition military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.
Last year, any of these events would probably have been enough to deal the industry a knockout blow, as with the September 2008 Lehman Brothers collapse; this time around, despite the still fragile global economic confidence, the industry seems to have taken these events in its stride.
Whilst it is far too early to quantify exactly what the industry impact will be, the oil price and North Africa situation pales into insignificance when compared with the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. Japan is too important a cog in the global electronics industry for its impact not to have serious global repercussions. It has also brought to a head the far deeper industry problems that we have long warned of – man-made in the corporate boardrooms – that could (should) have been avoided.
In this aspect, Japan’s disasters do have parallels with the Lehman Brothers collapse and its impact of worldwide finance; we hope that the current disruption to manufacturing worldwide from will force a rethink of how the world manages production. Read more…
This is a commentary on industry trends from Malcolm Penn, chairman and CEO, Future Horizons.
Importance of Japan
Japan is a major producer of semiconductor components accounting for around 22 percent of global semiconductor production. The Flash memory market sector – crucially mobile phones, iPads and their derivatives, digital cameras, and portable storage devices, account for approximately 50 percent of the market, almost all of which are produced by one Japanese firm, Toshiba/Sandisk.
Several of Japan’s major semiconductor companies locate their manufacturing spots in the northeast prefectures, for example Toshiba’s 8-inch wafer fab in lwate, Renesas Electronics’ factories in Aomori, Hoddaido and Yamagata, Elpedia Memory’s backend manufacturing facility in Akita and Fujitsu’s plants in Fukushima.
The effects of the devastating earthquake, which hit Japan on Friday 11th March, are already beginning to take hold on the global electronics industry. Damaged buildings and infrastructure and halts to some semiconductor fabs will without doubt have a knock on affect upon the global semiconductor supply chain, with many of the big names, i.e., Nokia, General Motors and Apple already experiencing supply shortages.
Many manufacturers, not directly hit by the earthquake, have experienced power failures interrupting production; just a microsecond power supply glitch can result in the scrapping of weeks of in-process production, and with manufacturers no longer holding inventory it will impact IC supply availability in Q2. To what extent, still remains to be seen. The impact will be felt both in the long and short term, affecting not only the semiconductor supply chain but nearly every other industry imaginable, as it is very rare these days to find an industry which is not reliant on chips.
As in any shortage situation, component price increases are inevitable and this has already happened in memory, although it is not yet clear how much of this is panic profiteering and how much is sustainable. But shortages are inevitable and recovery due to the long production cycle times and already tight capacity – will not happen over night.
The automotive semiconductor market grew 37 percent in 2010, clearly leaving the problematic 2009 behind. However the recent earthquake in Japan has once again awoken auto manufacturers concerns about the industry. Even before the earthquake purchasing managers had expressed concern about supply levels; inventories were unusually low, resulting in heightened concern from purchasing executives around the world.
It is difficult to estimate the extent auto manufacturers will be affected, but following an official announcement from Japan that car production will be down 33 percent from its normal monthly production level of 750k cars per month to 500k it looks as though the 2010 market growth may be short lived.
Toyota Motor Co, the worlds largest auto manufacturer, said all 12 Japanese assembly plants would remain closed until at least 26th March and it was not sure when they would re-open. Production lost between 14-26 March would be about 140,000 units. Read more…
Malcolm Penn, chairman and CEO, Future Horizons, asked the question at the SEMI ISS2011 Europe event at Grenoble, France, early this week: Whether this is the time to rethink the industry assumptions?
For instance, fabs have no strategic value, until you haven’t got one and lost control of your business. ASPs will keep on falling, just like house prices kept on rising? The semicon industry growth rate has slowed to ’7 percent per annum, which is only possible if ASPs keep falling 4 percent given an 11 percent unit growth.
Foundry wafers will always be cheap and freely available, just like cheap debt, right? Multiple sources will keep the foundries ‘honest’, since it is assumed that multi-sourcing at 20/22nm is going to be ‘interesting‘. It is also OK to focus on more than Moore competence, as today’s ‘More Moore’ is tomorrow’s ‘More Than Moore’.
Industry fundamental #1 – Economy: This was NOT a recession, someone turned off the lightsPre-Lehman, the chip industry was in very good shape. There was strong unit demand, and no excess inventory.There was limited wafer fab capacity, and no overspend/cutting back. Next, the ASPs were recovering, although, structurally driven. However, the strong global world economy was being deliberately slowed. The money really stopped moving in the post-Lehmann crash!
The economic coupling Is statistically weak. The economy is just one part of the equation. The chip industry marches to its own drum as well.
Industry fundamental #2: Unit demand: The Moore’s Law giveth and taketh away! Long-term average ICs/wafers grow only very slowly. There are more complex ICs counter balance die shrinks (1-2 percent productivity gain). Besides, 9-10 percent new capacity is needed to match the 11 percent average IC unit growth.
Industrial fundamental #3: Fab capacity: Let’s look at the IC manufacturing fundamentals — four quarter minimum lag from decision to impact.
* Total equipment capex = 85 percent of the total capex
* Wafer fab capex = 70 percent total equipment capex
* Order today = Wafer fab capex one quarter later* Wafer fab capex = Additional capacity two quarters later
* Additional capacity = IC units out one quarter later.
Pig cycles and cobwebs will keep happening due to long supply-side lead times (4 Months – production / 2 Years – fabs / 5+ years – design).
The fab capacity is still seriously tight. The Q4-10 status is still down 7.5 percent vs. Q3-08 peak. Also, the first relief happened in Q4-10 (from Q3/Q4-09’s spend) following six flat quarters.
The IC wafer fab capacity for Q3/Q4-09 spend, was equal to +80k ws/w In Q4-10. The 2010 spend was equal to ~400k ws/w additional by Q4-11? The wafer fab capex is still running ‘fab tight!’ Here are some more pointers:
* Not yet overheating, despite 140 percent 2010 growth.
* 2010 spend same as 2006; 10 percent lower than 2007 and 80 percent of 2000’s all time peak.
* Q1-11 book to bill <1; slowing Q2-11 sales.
* 2011 up between 5-15 percent, still within ‘safe haven’ region.
* TSMC thunders on with capex up 30 percent sales up 22 percent; the leadership gap up. Read more…
This is a summary by Malcolm Penn, CEO, Future Horizons. For those who wish to know more, please get in touch with me or Future Horizons.
December’s WSTS results were as boring as they were predictable, with no serious data revisions (thankfully) and the results right where we expected. December’s year-on-year IC unit growth was 8.9 percent that, with the 3.5 percent growth (yes GROWTH) in ASPs, yielded a respectable double-digit value growthof 12.8 percent. And this, on the back of a weak Q4 memory market that saw ASPs fall 13.1 percent vs Q3-10!
The yearly growth vs 2009 weighed in at 31.8 percent, hitting $298.3 billion, just shy of the elusive $300 billion threshold. The market is right where we said it would be at our recent 2011 Forecast seminar; we reiterate our position that 2011 will be a good year for the industry. Choppy first-half waters for sure, but watch out for a whopping 2H-11 ricochet.
Connectors are up as well
It is not just semiconductors that are off to a good start. The connector industry is tight as a drum too. Orders in December 2010 were up 13.3 percent versus December 2009, with full year orders up 29.3 percent on 2009, down sequentially 11.1 percent from November 2010. The comparable data for sales was plus 18.7percent, plus 28.4 and minus 13.7 percent.
The December connector book-to-bill ratio was 1.01, unchanged from November. This industry still publishes orders and book-to-bill data by the way, unlike the chip industry which very foolishly stopped publishing this several years ago. All this in the seasonally slow first quarter of the month, yet few people believe there is a supply problem in prospect. Just as this time last year, industry denial is rampant, way beyond reasonable caution and ignoring the underlying trends.
Strong demand for mobile, server and graphics DRAM
We estimate that the worldwide growth rate for PCs in 2011 will be a healthy 10 percent, with 3.9GB the average DRAM content per box. New capacity and die shrinks are putting near-term pressure on over-supply and pricing but there are now move afoot from Elpida and others to start raising prices.
Where they can, to gain a price advantage, DRAM vendors are actively adjusting their supply in favour of mobile from commodity DRAM, given the current strong demand in the smartphone and tablet PC markets, with a 1GB per box average DRAM content.
Server demand continues to be the other star segment, not just in unit demand but in content per box as well, estimated to average around 30GB in 2011. This will drive a 50 to 60 percent increase in server DRAM demand. Finally in graphics demand for specialty DRAM is also very strong, driven by the rapid take off of3D-TV and continuing strong growth in Blue-Ray DVD.
The overall DRAM industry is thus gradually diversifying from manufacturing mainly commodity DRAM to diversified products such as mobile DRAM, serverbasis DRAM, specialty DRAM and graphic memory.DRAM vendors however are faring mixed fortunes, with Elpida and Hynix having the worst net cash positions with barely enough cash to cover their short-term debt.
The Taiwanese vendors find themselves stuck in a technology trap, unable to invest in the immersion technology needed to break through the 5*nm node, meaning that in the absence of a good market uptick to improve cash flow and profits, a shake out in the DRAM supply base seems unavoidable.
This is a summary by Malcolm Penn, CEO, Future Horizons. For those who wish to know more, please get in touch with me, or, with Future Horizons.
December’s WSTS results were as boring as they were predictable, with no serious data revisions (thankfully) and the results right where we expected. December’s year-on-year IC unit growth was 8.9 percent that, with the 3.5 percent growth (yes GROWTH) in ASPs, yielded a respectable double-digit value growth of 12.8 percent.
And this, on the back of a weak Q4 memory market that saw ASPs fall 13.1 percent vs Q3-10! The yearly growth vs 2009 weighed in at 31.8 percent, hitting $298.3 billion, just shy of the elusive $300 billion threshold.
The market is right where we said it would be at our recent 2011 Forecast seminar; we reiterate our position that 2011 will be a good year for the industry. Choppy first-half waters for sure, but watch out for a whopping 2H-11 ricochet.
Already the early warning signs are there: HP has warned of slipped Q1 PC shipment due to component shortages, from sensors to CPUs; TSMC and UMC are curtailing their Chinese New Year annual maintenance programmes due to serious capacity shortages; there is no excess inventory in the pipeline and capacity is maxed out; the front-end book-to-bill has now dropped back below unity; and memory prices have rebounded sharply in the pre-Chinese holiday period.
The whole industry food chain is now an overstretched taunt spring … with no easy roll back option. The 21C10 industry model is way past its sell by date … time for a radical rethink? Plan A is NOT sustainable.
This is a summary by Malcolm Penn, CEO, Future Horizons. For those who wish to know more, please get in touch with me.
November’s WSTS results were distorted by a billion dollar downgrade (restatement) to the year-to-date numbers. These things do happen from time to time, but one of this size quite rare.
The overall impact was to reduce the year to date market by around half a percent; not so bad per se but, due to its leverage, it reduced the overall year-on-year market growth by a couple of percentage points!
As a result we have downgraded our 2010 forecast to (a still very reasonable) 30 percent. This falls into the category of ‘tweaking the final number’ though … it is not a change to our underlying forecast sentiment or outlook.
Re-statements aside, what then for the outlook for 2011?
Looking at our four horsemen of the semiconductor apocalypse:
1. Economy – grew ~4.8 percent in 2010 (IMF) and is forecast to grow 4.2 percent in 2011.
2. Capacity – effectively sold out; with Cap Ex spending now flat and the book-to-bill below parity.
3. ASPs – have been increasing now since Q2-2009 … six quarters in a row.
4. IC units – are in a ‘steady as you go’ mode with NO excess inventory and NO excess capacity to build any.
In short, whereas this time last year the problem was getting any orders, the problem today is getting semiconductor product. The chip market fundamentals really do not get any better than this, yet industry pessimism it at its highest since the Lehman Brothers collapse.
What concerns us is the industry perception that moving from a 30 percent growth year to single digits in 2011 heralds yet another classic chip market boom turned to bust. It does not.
The same is true everywhere you now look in the food chain … few people or firms will commit anything to any one beyond the immediate deal; business is now turn’s driven, not for strategic long-term vision or gain.
The current Mexican standoff in the 450mm wafer transition debacle is another industry supply chain mismanagement example, with the chip industry saying ‘yes please’ and the equipment suppliers saying ‘no thanks’. Yet where is the SIA and SEMI in this debate? Siding with their members rather than orchestrating a solution.
Likewise, who in the infrastructure is counting and measuring real industry demand? The WSTS in its (lack of) wisdom stopped publishing orders, and the associated book-to bill, data several years ago, despite the latter being one of the key original measurement tools when the system was created under the directionof data visionary Jack Beadle (then with Motorola).
Needless to say it was dropped for all the wrong reasons … to try to keep the financial community offindustry’s backs. As a result, the industry now has no structured order visibility!
Entering 2011 we thus see the industry fundamentals in especially good shape, a fact that can clearly be seen if you redraw the graphs to take out the ‘data crash’ caused by the Lehman Brothers collapse.
* Continuing Cap Ex famine, despite 2010’s 140 percent Cap Ex spending growth.
* Falling Cap Ex book to bill (since August 2010) now less than 1 (December).
* Six successive quarters of flat industry capacity, cruising well below excess capacity threshold levels.
* Supply-chain mismanagement; no trust, no confidence, no commitment … no business?
* Shortages everywhere … from substrates (e.g. 200mm wafers), equipment (try buying an immersion stepper or single wafer epi reactor), to lead frames (especially given the desire to move from gold to copper-based packaging).
* Industrial and automotive products now completely sold out … even memories are starting to get tight.
Do not be misled by the single digit growth number … 2011 will be a very strong year for the chip industry. 2012 will be a double-digit boom.
This downturn was NOT a classic semiconductor bust and boom, ignore industry fundamentals at your peril: Future Horizons
May’s results mean Q2-10 will show at least 8.3 percent quarterly growth over Q1-10, increasing the full year growth forecast to 36 percent. Given last year’s growth was minus 9 percent, mathematically this is a classic industry cycle. It is NOT, he insists.
At this point in the ‘recovery’, it is much more important to look at sequential and quarterly growth rates rather that the 12:12 rates, given the high double digit rates they show are just as misleading and irrelevant as the high double digit negative rates from this time last year. The reality is they net each other out thereby highlighting the real nature of the current cycle. This downturn was a pause, the recovery a restart, it was NOT a classic semiconductor bust and boom.
Future Horizons has been telling everyone very publicly that the industry recovery started in March 2009, first in the April 2009 edition of its Global Semiconductor Report, substantiated by a very long and detailed analysis at the Geneva IEF2009 Forum last October.
The recovery, together with ever-increasing substantiating data, has been a recurring theme in its Global Semiconductor Monthly Report ever since, as well as at the Dresden IEF2010 event in May 2010.
“While we obviously do not expect firms to run their business based on what we say, if the market recovery really has taken firms by surprise, executives from the top down either failed to recognise the significance of the data we were drawing their attention to over the past 15 months or they simply made the decision to ignore it. Ignore the industry fundamentals at your peril.”
Recovery not quite classic!
Future Horizons clearly states that this recovery is not a classic recovery. On being quizzed further, Penn said, “it was a dead stop and restart, just like hitting the pause button on your remote, rather than a crash and rebuild.” This is perhaps the same reason why the recession is now being termed as a market interruption.
Future Horizons has also been warning that industry was cutting back on the existing capacity far too much and too fast, while simultaneously failing to invest in net new capacity. Is the semicon industry still on this path?
Penn added: “Spending has now resumed (since Jan. 2010) and cut backs have stopped, but there’s a one-year time delay before these will start to impact. Why? Lack of industry confidence, driven too much by short-term financial performance, risk averse management and shareholders, lemming factor, etc.”
The long-term ramifications, should the industry fail to invest in net new capacity, are loss of sales and market position/leadership to those firms who did invest (e.g. TSMC, Samsung).
Well, it seems the global semiconductor industry has not learned enough from the previous recessions! Read more…
April set the ball rolling for a blockbuster second quarter making what will now be five successive quarters of growth. Our 3 percent Q2 growth forecast looks increasingly timid, with 6-8 percent more likely. Virtually all forecasters are now pitching 2010’s growth at the 30 percent level, so there is little left to argue about other than guessing the exact final number.
Whether the ‘final’ number is 28 or 38 percent really makes no odds; it is the underlying trend that counts, something we forecast correctly over 18 months ago.
The real issue now is “What about 2011?” We are clearly now in a boom and the next phase is bust, but when, how deep and how fast will it collapse? We are currently reappraising this and our 2011 forecast, with the analyses to be presented at our forthcoming IFS2011 Mid-Term International Forecast Seminar in London on 20th July.
Forget all of the intellectual arguments about expanded geographical customer base, broader application range and the smoothing effects these would have, all that is hogwash. The industry boom-bust cycles persist and will continue to do so all the while demand dynamics are measured in weeks and the supply-side in quarters making it impossible to ever balance supply and demand.
At this point it is pertinent to revive a slide I first presented at the IEEE meeting in Boston in 1975. This slide is as valid today as it was 35 years ago.
After four quarters of growth, the industry now finds itself in the full flood of a classic market boom. Order books are full, customers are building stocks, double ordering is rife, capacity is strained, lead times increasing and deliveries are stretched.
Inventory replenishment started in Q2-2009, due to the severe inventory overdepletion in Q4-2008/Q1-2009, and was over by Q4-2009 to be replaced by inventory building in 1H-2010, driven by lead-time extension. Typically every week of extra lead-time adds at least half a week to WIP.
Double, even triple, ordering (due to supply shortages) only really started in 1H-2010 and is definitely getting worse, but double ordering is NOT double shipping, yet. For that to happen, supply needs to catch up with demand. That leaves just one item missing from the 1975 list … ‘prices stabilise’, the worldwide semiconductor and IC ASP trends. Read more…