Exhibitor numbers are up 16 percent over last year for the eighth annual Semicon Taiwan exhibition of computer chip-making equipment at the Taipei World Trade Center, the organizers reported yesterday.
As of last week, 589 exhibitors were booked up for this year's event, up from 507 last year, Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) Southeast Asia president George Lin (林長次) said at a press conference yesterday.
Semicon Taiwan opens Monday and runs through Wednesday.
Taiwan is home to the world's largest makers of custom-made chips for other companies. Last year, the nation was the third-largest purchaser of chip-making equipment after the US and Japan, taking 18 percent of a US$19.75 billion market, according to SEMI figures.
But in the first half of this year, Taiwan has slipped into fifth place behind South Korea and Europe as chipmakers wait to see whether a recovery in the world's technology markets is sustained.
The hesitant attitude doesn't seem to have hurt Semicon Taiwan. Visitor numbers are expected to top last year's 23,000 figure as more than 12,000 have registered in advance of the event, Lin said.
"Considering the still weak economy and the effect of SARS earlier in the year, the event has done particularly well this year," he told the Taipei Times.
The co-sponsor of the event was also all smiles at yesterday's event.
"All booths are being used this year, so the exhibition is [already] a success," said Chao Yung-chuan (
Semicon is the largest event of its kind in the country.
"This is the best opportunity for lots of overseas and local companies to share new developments," said Gordon Chen (陳文咸), president of the Taiwan Semiconductor Industry Association (台灣半導體產業協會), which represents the nation's chipmakers.
Equipment makers at the event should haul in some juicy orders as chipmakers finally buy new machines to cope with increased orders.
"For equipment vendors, this is the first opportunity in two to three years to get more business," said Alfred Ying (應宗傑), a chip-industry analyst at BNP Paribas in Taipei.
There are indications that a rebound in the chip industry is underway.
"The US economy is improving, corporate and personal spending [on computer equipment] is on the rise, the SARS effect seems to be over and mobile computing and devices are picking up markedly worldwide," said Archie Hwang (
One exciting new area for the semiconductor industry at this year's show is micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), which build microscopic devices such as fluid, temperature, vibration and pressure sensors into chips for use in smart-automobile systems for example, Hwang said.
MEMS are much more profitable for the industry than mobile phone and digital organizer chips, fetching US$320 to US$370 per chip compared to as little as US$5 for a mobile chip. They also require more complicated manufacturing equipment, which should be a boon for semiconductor equipment makers.
Only last week, US-based research firm Gartner predicted that spending on new semiconductor equipment would increase by 11 percent globally this year after slumping 30 percent last year.
SEMI is more conservative and forecasts a 4 percent increase in semiconductor equipment sales this year to US$20.52 billion.