Thu, Jan 04, 2018 - Page 12 News List

Global semiconductor sector might grow 8% this year

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

The global semiconductor industry will likely see its revenue increase by 8 percent this year on the back of increasing shipments of memory chips, statistics released yesterday by trade group SEMI showed.

The global industry last year saw its revenue rise 20 percent annually to more than US$400 billion for the first time in history, the statistics showed.

“We are optimistic about this year’s growth prospects. Revenue growth will range from 4 to 8 percent year-on-year, based on the projected figures we compiled, which is an above-average growth,” Taipei-based SEMI analyst Clerk Tseng (曾瑞榆) told a media briefing.

Chip market forecaster Future Horizons Ltd predicted annual growth of 10 percent, Tseng said.

Future Horizons’ forecast is noteworthy, as its estimate of 17 percent growth for last year was very close to the actual figure, he added.

This year’s growth would mostly be driven by the increase in memory chip shipments, rather than a rally in average selling price (ASP) as was seen last year, Tseng said.

Memory chip ASP is expected to be flat this year, as demand is expected to climb at least 30 percent annually through 2021, given significant capacity expansion plans by Samsung Electronics Co, SK Hynix Inc and Micron Technology Inc, he said, citing figures from semiconductor researcher Objective Analysis.

Memory chips are to make up between 25 and 30 percent of overall semiconductor revenue this year, compared with less than 25 percent in the past, he said.

Data centers, industrial applications, consumer electronics, wireless devices and automotive electronics are likely to continue to drive growth in the industry this year, extending last year’s momentum, Tseng said.

Worldwide semiconductor revenue is expected to top US$500 billion by next year, he said.

There will be diverse growth factors affecting the global industry from this year to 2025, such as artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, automotive, Internet of Things and 5G, he added.

As for the market trend in the silicon wafer segment, “there is the likelihood that manufacturers will raise ASP by 100 percent this year, given a persistent supply crunch,” Tseng said.

Silicon wafer prices peaked in 2007 and had been declining until a rebound last year, when ASP jumped 17 percent due to supply constraints, SEMI data showed.

“It would take price hikes of 300 percent to bring the silicon wafer price back to the level seen 10 years ago,” Tseng said. “However, we do not expect a hike in ASP will increase the retail prices of end products, as it only accounts for a very small portion of chip costs.”

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