200mm Fab Supply Chain Breaker

by Carolyn Mathas

The most common wafer diameter is 300mm, with 450mm on the horizon – 200mm was around in the 1990s. Upgrading factories for larger diameters is expensive and time-consuming, and there’s still a need to build fabs for smaller wafers that provide a balance between cutting-edge capabilities and cost-effectiveness.

Silicon still plays a significant role in the automotive industry for many modern vehicle functions – from engine control units to airbag systems. Shortages of silicon might be a thing of the past if semiconductor analyst experts at SEMI are right. According to a new report by SEMI, semiconductor manufacturers around the globe are expected to boost 200mm-wafer fab capacity by 14 percent between 2023 and 2026.

This includes establishing 12 high-volume 200mm wafer fabs, and the growth will push the industry to a peak of over 7.7 million wafers per month. SEMI says the primary sectors fueling this growth are consumer, automotive, and industrial – especially given the surge in electric vehicle (EV) adoption and associated increase in demand for powertrain inverters and charging stations.

Key chip suppliers are scaling up their 200mm projects to address anticipated demand.

SEMI expects 34 percent growth in fab capacity for automotive and power semiconductors from 2023 to 2026, with MPU/MCU coming in second with a 21 percent growth, followed by MEMS, analog, and foundry with respective growth rates of 16 percent, 8 percent, and 8 percent respectively. The primary technologies are within the 80nm to 350nm process nodes, anticipating a growth of 10 percent for the 80nm to 130nm nodes and 18 percent for the 131nm to 350nm nodes within the forecast period. The global escalation in 200mm fab capacity signals the onset of a more resilient and resource-rich tech supply chain across all relevant sectors.

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