USA: Worldwide semiconductor capital spending is projected to total $64.5 billion in 2014, an increase of 11.4 percent from 2013 spending of $57.8 billion, according to Gartner, Inc. Capital equipment spending will increase 17.1 percent in 2014, driven by strong memory average selling prices and increased demand for consumer products.
For 2014, Gartner's forecast for semiconductor equipment has been increased slightly from the previous forecast. Longer term, Gartner expects modest growth through the semiconductor cycle, with just a modest pause in the equipment market expected in 2016.
In recent years, the equipment industry has realized significant consolidation, as major vendors have acquired complementary and competitive companies. As equipment advancements will lead to higher development costs, the trend of industry consolidation should be expected to continue.
Foundries will continue to outspend the logic integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) in 2014. Foundry spending is expected to increase by 4.5 percent in contrast with the 0.3 percent decrease in total logic spending. However, the longer-term outlook for total foundry spending shows a flat profile, as predicted mobility market saturation will dampen the need for new foundry capacity and creates an environment where existing capacity is upgraded to the latest node.
The memory capital expenditure (capex) outlook remains strong for 2014 with a 40 percent increase anticipated in the current forecast, compared with a 25 percent increase in the previous quarter's forecast. Memory manufacturers are currently enjoying a strong pricing environment, which sets the stage for renewed spending growth.
The current DRAM undersupply will continue through 2015, moving back into an oversupply in 2016 as new wafer capacity is added to the market. Since the last forecast Samsung Electronics has announced that it will be using one floor of its newly completed S3 fab in Suwon, South Korea, for DRAM production.
In late December 2013, SK Hynix announced that it would invest $1.7 billion at its Icheon, South Korea, complex to build a new fab shell and clean room. This leaves a scenario in which both of the South Korean vendors are bringing on new DRAM wafer capacity, pushing bit supply growth to 36 percent in 2016. This combined with the mild demand growth in the same period moves the market into oversupply.