GlobalWafers Co (環球晶圓), the world’s third-largest silicon wafer supplier, said that factory utilization at its 8-inch fab near Milan, Italy, is likely to stay at about 100 percent for a third straight year, aided by strong demand for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and power management ICs.
The fab is one of the most profitable for GlobalWafers, delivering a gross margin above the company’s average of 38 percent last year.
The facility in Novara, 40km from Milan, is the largest 8-inch fab operated by GlobalWafers.
The fab contributed 10 percent of the GlobalWafer’s revenue of NT$59.06 billion (US$1.91 billion) last year.
With annual capacity of 500,000 8-inch wafers, the fab seized 24 percent of the European 8-inch silicon wafer market, surpassing its larger rivals SUMCO Corp and Shin-Etsu Handotai.
“Overall, our customers in Europe kept inventories at healthy levels in the first quarter,” Marco Sciamanna, a senior director at the Novara site, told a media briefing on Tuesday.
“We continue to see very strong demand ... in the European market,” he said. “We have strong product portfolios.”
The 8-inch fab primarily produces niche silicon wafers used to make power management, MEMS and radio frequency ICs, which are the fastest-growing segments.
The MEMS and power management chip markets are expected to grow 39 percent and 25 percent respectively from 2017 to 2022, GlobalWafers said.
The firm’s product lineup has helped GlobalWafers overcome the semiconductor industry slowdown, it said.
GlobalWafers supplies silicon wafers to major companies such as STMicroelectronics NV, NXP Semiconductor NV and Infineon Technologies AG.
The chipmakers are the world’s major suppliers of power management chips, and chips used in security cards and automobiles.
European customers contribute 58 percent of the fab’s revenue.
The Novara fab has been fully utilized since 2017 and to cope with robust demand, the company said it plans to increase its capacity by 2.5 percent this year by enhancing productivity.
The company has acquired 300,000m2 of land adjacent to the fab for future capacity expansion, by there is no substantial plan to do so on the horizon.
GlobalWafers extended its footprint to Europe by acquiring SunEdison Semiconductor in 2016.
Since then, the fab’s capacity has increased 40 percent due to robust demand, yield rate improvement and the company’s extensive sales channels.
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