SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The silicon foundry industry faces another chaotic year. While leading-edge technology will remain tight in 2003, the massive foundry buildup is expected to cause a glut of "trailing-edge" capacity and pricing pressures in the marketplace, according to an executive from Taiwan's United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC).
"Overall foundry capacity utilization remains low," said Peter Chang, vice chairman of UMC. "The capacity glut will continue in 2003, especially for the trailing technology due to the newly added capacity from new foundries. New foundries will also impact wafer ASPs (average selling prices) for 0.35-, 0.25-, and some 0.18-micron technologies," Chang said.
"However, leading-edge capacity will be in short supply as demand recovers, due to IDM's significant capital spending cuts during 2001 to 2003," Chang said during a keynote address at the Semico Summit conference here today (March 11, 2003).
Speaking to a lar ge audience of chip executives, Chang also provided a general outlook for the foundry industry. In total, the worldwide pure-play foundry business is expected to explode, growing from $7.5 billion in terms of sales in 2002, to $32 billion by 2010, according to Chang.
Chang declined to give a forecast for 2003, however. Asked to comment on the foundry outlook for 2003, Chang told SBN after the keynote: "We don't want to make a forecast. The overall visibility is low."
Meanwhile, during the keynote, Chang said foundry demand is coming from both fabless chip makers and IDMs. Foundries realized some 50 percent of their wafer sales from fabless design houses in 2002, but that figure is expected to drop to 47 percent by 2003, according to Semico Research Corp. of Phoenix. By 2007, foundries will realize 44 percent of their wafer sales from fabless chip makers, according to Semico.
In contrast, the demand from IDMs is rising. Foundries realized 41 percent of their wafer sales from IDMs in 2002, b ut that figure is expected to jump to 45 percent in 2003, according to Semico. By 2010, the percentage is projected to increase to $48 percent. (The remaining percentages will come from system houses.)
There is also some bad news in the industry, however. One of the big concerns is the massive buildup of foundry capacity from a half-dozen startups in China, Korea and Malaysia. China's foundry industry, for example, is "overbuilt," Chang said.
In total, the "Big 3" foundry providers--Chartered, TSMC, and UMC--are expected to produce 369,000 8-inch wafers a week. Meanwhile, the new foundries are projected to produce 150,000 wafers a week, mostly "trailing-edge" 0.35- to 0.18-micron technologies.
In other words, worldwide foundry capacity has increased by 40% since 2000, Chang said. "That's why there's an overcapacity in the market," he said.