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Semiconductor Silicon Wafer Market - Growth, Trends, and Forecasts (2021 - 2026)

Semiconductor Silicon Wafer Market - Growth, Trends, and Forecasts (2021 - 2026)

  • January 2021
  • 118 pages
  • ID: 6009461
  • Format: PDF
  • Mordor Intelligence LLP


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The semiconductor silicon wafer market was valued at USD 9.85 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach USD 13.64 billion by 2025, with a CAGR of 6.18% during the forecast period from 2020 to 2025. With semiconductors emerging as the building blocks of all modern technology, the innovations and advancements in this field are directly impacting all-down stream technologies. Semiconductor silicon wafer remains the core component of many microelectronic devices and forms the cornerstone of the electronics industry. With digitization and electronic mobility being the current trends in the technology landscape, these products are finding applications in a multitude of devices. Also, the demand for small-sized gadgets has increased the need for more functionalities from a single device. This means that an IC chip now should house a higher number of transistors to support more features.

- In fact, according to the new Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) forecasts, silicon wafer shipments for semiconductor applications are expected to reach exceeded 17,600 Million Square Inches (MSI) by 2025, from 11,810 MSI in 2019. This market scenario is expected to create a positive impact on the semiconductor silicon wafer. The yearly data published by SEMI indicated that there had been a slight dip in the silicon wafer shipments for the year 2019 (11,810 MSI) following a continuous growth until 2018 (12,732 MSI) as a result of overall economic slowdown and ongoing geopolitical tensions that have negatively impacted silicon demand for the year.
- In July 2019, Okmetic announced it would be investing tens of millions of euros in its Vantaa, Finland plant between 2019–2021. The silicon wafer manufacturer is mainly targeting the company’s core competence, SOI (Silicon-On-Insulator) wafers, and will gradually double the company’s SOI production capacity. SOI wafers provide an optimal substrate for the manufacture of most advanced MEMS and power components. As a world’s leading supplier for SOI wafers, we have been witnessing a growing demand for these wafers due to the increasing amount of advanced MEMS and power components used in the electronics sector.
- In November 2019, MEMC Korea Co inaugurated a new silicon wafer plant in South Korea, to diversify the supply channel of core strategic materials against Japan’s export control. The South Korean government also reported that the country imports 65% of the silicon wafer. About 9% of the imports can be replaced with domestic production, with the initiatives for production expansion by MEMC. The multinational firms, besides, benefited from such disputes. DuPont invested USD 28 million in two existing factories in South Korea. It also aims to construct a new factory to make photoresists for use in the production of semiconductors.
- The recent Coronavirus pandemic is expected to have a significant effect on the silicon wafer market sales across the globe. A new quarterly report from SEMI laid out two market scenarios for the semiconductor wafer market in the second half of 2020. First, the sales could witness further dip amidst the uncertainty surrounding the impact of COVID-19 to the semiconductor industry. Second, the semiconductor industry could climb on the strength of rebounding chip sales. According to SEMI, the dip in silicon wafer sales in the second half of 2020 could have ripple effects on price negotiations in 2021. Wafer shipments, supply and demand shifts, suppliers’ dynamics, and pricing trends are considered. Owing to such a scenario, the sale of 300mm silicon wafer shipments might witness a slight decline, whereas the 200mm and 150mm shipments would drop by 5% and 13%, respectively, in the first half of 2020, according to SEMI.

Key Market Trends
Consumer Electronics is Expected to Occupy a Significant Market Share

- The demand for more compact electronics has led to a high degree of miniaturization. Silicon wafers are the primary material for manufacturing semiconductors, which are essential components of virtually all electronics goods, including several consumer electronics such as mobiles, tablets, and P.C.s. In the current market scenario, a significant portion of electronic devices, including laptops, smartphones, computers, etc., still use I.C.s and other semiconductor devices manufactured from silicon substances. Although silicon is still dominating the primary applications in the consumer electronics market, new materials replace the previous substrates and packaging for a few uses.
- According to Consumer Technology Association (CTA), ’U.S. Consumer Technology Sales and Forecast’ study, CTA expects that 5G-enabled smartphone devices will reach 2.1 million units and cross USD 1.9 billion in revenue triple-digit increases through 2021. Furthermore, in 2019, Apple announced a contribution of USD 350 billion to the U.S. economy by 2023 and promised 2.4 million jobs, over the next five years, which comprises of new investments and its existing spending with domestic companies for supply and manufacturing. The company is a prominent player in the consumer electronics industry; hence, the announcement is expected to propel the demand for semiconductor silicon wafers.
- In September 2019, The Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), MIT’s Research Enterprise in Singapore, has announced the successful development of a commercially viable way to manufacture integrated Silicon III-V Chips with powerful performance III-V devices inserted into their design. In most devices nowadays, silicon-based CMOS chips are primarily used for computing, but they are not efficient for communications and illumination, resulting in low efficiency and heat generation. This is why current 5G mobile devices on the market get very hot upon use and shut down after a short time. However, combining III-V semiconductor devices with silicon in a commercially viable way is one of the most complex challenges faced by the semiconductor industry.
- In August 2019, Cree, Inc. and ON Semiconductor Corporation announced signed a multi-year agreement where Cree will produce and supply its Wolfspeed silicon carbide wafers to ON Semiconductor, a global semiconductor leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications. The agreement, valued at more than USD 85 million, provides for the supply of Cree’s advanced 150mm silicon carbide (SiC) bare and epitaxial wafers to ON Semiconductor high-growth markets. Cree is a provider of Wolfspeed power and radio frequency (RF) semiconductors and lighting-class LEDs. Cree’s Wolfspeed products include silicon carbide materials, power-switching devices, and R.F. devices.

North America is Expected to Hold Significant Share

- The United States is innovating in manufacturing, design, and research in the semiconductor industry, witnessing the sales worth USD 7.49 billion in 2019, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). The United States is also one of the frontrunners in semiconductor packaging innovation, boasting of 80 wafer fabrication plants spread across 19 states. The major fabless companies in this region are Broadcom, Qualcomm, AMD, Apple, Marvell, Xilinx, and NVIDIA North America is playing a crucial role in enhanced semiconductor system design and manufacturing. The region is likely to remain one of the significant revenue contributors to the market studied, over the forecast period, as fabless companies (indirect), integrated device manufacturers, and foundries are increasing several activities for semiconductor silicon wafer manufacturers.
- For instance, five leading firms formed the United States-based consortium to pursue the transition to 450 mm wafers. The consortium includes some significant firms such as Intel, IBM, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, SAMSUNG, and Global Foundries. This consortium focuses on developing and manufacturing the required equipment to process 450 mm wafers. The technological advancements in consumer electronic devices, such as smartphones and tablets, and the development of smart home devices and wearables in the region drive the need for small integrated circuits. This, in turn, is fueling the demand for wafer polishing and grinding equipment.
- In May 2020, TSMC announced an intention for a fab in the United States with an initial capacity of 20,000 wafer starts per month. Fabs make ICs on silicon wafers, typically 300 mm (12 inches) in diameter, so that means 240,000 wafers per year. Depending on the chip’s size, a wafer might hold around very 500 large chips like datacenter microprocessors, too many thousands of smaller chips like those found in a cell phone. The production process takes 40 or more days, as wafers have to go through 300+ process steps. TSMC’s three "Gigafabs" in Taiwan, Fabs 12, 14, and 15 handles around 150,000 per month each, and the company’s overall capacity is around 2.5 million per month.
- One of the reasons most U.S. semiconductors are fabless is that very few companies dare to make that kind of investment or have the confidence to make the advanced process technology work. The fab would be targeted at 5 nm technology, currently the most advanced process that is actually in production anywhere. One reason TSMC probably has been reticent to establish a fab outside of Taiwan is the need for close production support from its existing teams and the extent to which it shuttles work across its existing network of fabs, which are primarily in three science parks in Taiwan. TSMC plans USD 12 Billion investment for specialized production tools to make the unique circuit patterns on these chips.

Competitive Landscape
The semiconductor silicon wafers market is quite competitive. In terms of market share, only a few players dominate the current market due to which the market is quite consolidated. However, players’ upcoming technologies and the innovations carried out are the reason behind the significant boost in the semiconductor silicon wafers market. The market is even witnessing multiple mergers and partnerships so that the companies expand their geographical presence.

- March 2020 - SK Siltron announced it had completed the acquisition of DuPont’s Silicon Carbide Wafer (SiC Wafer) unit. Demand for power semiconductors is increasing at a healthy rate as automakers are scrambling to enter the electric vehicle market, and telecommunication companies are expanding ultra-fast 5G networks. SiC wafers have high hardness, heat resistance, and the ability to withstand high voltages.
- March 2020 - GlobalWafers’ 6-inch silicon wafer plant in Malaysia has returned to regular production and runs at full utilization, according to the company. Production at the plant was disrupted briefly by a coronavirus lockdown in the country.

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