Thursday, October 2, 2014

Shaking up mobile and foundry markets

USA: Rolling out a new semiconductor technology always has its challenges, and it’s also usually accompanied by speculations and surprises.

In 2011, at the 22nm process technology node, Intel surprised the semiconductor industry by introducing a three dimensional transistor structure, which Intel calls Tri-Gate, but is more commonly referred to in the industry as FinFETs.  Most of the speculators were expecting FinFETs to be rolled out at the 14nm node.

There are only a few players expected to deliver FinFET manufacturing technology in the next few years, two IDM/foundries and two dedicated foundries.

Due to the electronic market shift to smartphones and tablets, how technology is applied and marketing strategy play a bigger role than just technology itself. During the first 12 months of introduction, FinFET foundry demand at 14nm will see relatively small volumes.

Intel is now rolling out its second generation Tri-Gate technology as the foundries begin to run customer products on their 14nm FinFET processes.  Did Intel’s early rollout set a new bar for the industry?  Is FinFET transistor technology going to change the market positioning of computing and mobile market players?

Will the ramp of FinFET manufacturing capacity shift the market dynamics?  Will it change the foundry landscape?  FinFETs would have to set off a revolutionary change in the smartphone, tablet or convertible market in order for the rollout of 16nm/14nm to significantly change the foundry market share landscape.

However, Semico believes that once the communication market makes the transition to FinFET transistors, volumes will ramp significantly in 2017.  FinFET wafer demand will grow at a CAGR of almost 60 percent over the next four years.

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