SAN FRANCISCO The semiconductor market may have turned the corner, an industry group concludes, with average selling prices for chips stabilizing, fab utilization improving and growth expected to reach 4 percent this year, and 24 percent in 2004.
Dan Tracy, director of industry research and statistics for Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International, told the Semicon West conference here on Tuesday (July 15) that industry growth could reach 24 percent in 2004.
SEMI is also forecasting that this will be a cross-over year for 300-mm tools, which are expected to account for 50 percent of the total tool market. However, members are split on the severity of future semiconductor market cycles. Some said a moderate recovery is in store while others said the lengthy downturn and pent-up demand will result in a large upswing.
In his guest presentation, Moshe Handelsman, president of Advanced Forecasting (Cupertino, Calif.)said the Iraq war and the SARS epidemic have delayed an IC recovery by approximately four months. "The IC cycle is volatile. There are many turning points. You can't avoid them, but you prepare for them," Handelsman warned.
"New technology is [again] being introduced every three years," said Brett Hodess, an analyst for Merrill Lynch. "Maybe only Intel is still on a 18-month to two-year cycle."
"Semiconductor end-market sales have broadened with ICs for PCs only occupying 25 percent of the market," Hodess said. He added that demand for new ICs depends more on the overall economy since other end-use applications besides PCs now make up the bulk of the end-user market.
Hodess, a former Intel employee, said these factors mean the industry may only grow by 5 percent rather than the double-digit growth rates of the last two decades.