Wafer Shipments Head for Record Increases


October 14, 2020

Worldwide wafer shipments, as with most global IC market segments, are up and heading for record increases over the next 18 months, according to the latest in a series of rosy forecasts by a semiconductor industry group.

SEMI also reported earlier in October that the EDA industry revenue jumped a healthy 12.6 percent during the second quarter, increasing nearly $312 million over the same period last year to $2.78 billion.

All of which underscores soaring demand for silicon and chip design expertise as AI technologies and machine learning fuel demand for CPU accelerators. That, along with everything but the kitchen sink becoming a smart device—although designs for an intelligent kitchen sink are probably on the drawing board somewhere.

The chip industry group said silicon wafer shipments have recovered from earlier supply chain shocks. Those supply channels appear to have been reconstituted as the pandemic accelerates enterprise and consumer digitization. “We expect continued growth over the next two years,” says Clark Tseng, SEMI’s director of industry research and statistics.

That forecast include 5 percent or better growth in silicon shipments over the next two years as measured in millions of square inches (MSI) of silicon. Second quarter 2020 silicon material shipments reached levels not seen since the boom year of 2018, according to SEMI’s Worldwide Silicon Wafer Shipment Statistics. The Q2 total, 3,152 MSI, excludes silicon used for solar applications.

Meanwhile, the EDA sector registered quarterly revenue gains across most product categories ranging from physical design and verification (up 16.8 percent), semiconductor IP (up 13.6 percent) and computer-aided engineering (rising 16.1 percent). Only the pc-board/multichip module category declined during the second quarter, but the four-quarter moving average for PCBs and modules continued to climb, SEMI and the Electronic System Design Alliance reported.

The Americas region led the way with an 11.4 percent quarterly increase in EDA purchases. Chip design revenues for the Asia-Pacific region were slightly lower, but the percentage increased outpaced all other regions. Both zones topped $1 billion in quarterly EDA purchases, while the Europe-Middle East-Africa region rose 5 percent. The Japanese EDA market jumped 9 percent.

While the EDA tracker offered no forecast for the coming year, SEMI notes the overall four-quarter moving average for chip design, which compares the most recent four quarters to the prior four quarters, increased a healthy 6.7 percent.

Taken together, the robust quarterly results for wafer shipments and EDA tools leave little doubt that sustained growth will continue for the foreseeable future.