Wed, Jun 05, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan bucks world trend to be No. 1 in semiconductor equipment spending

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Worldwide semiconductor manufacturing equipment billings for the first quarter dropped 19 percent annually amid an industry slump, but Taiwan bucked the downtrend with billings soaring 68 percent year-on-year, international trade group SEMI said yesterday.

Global semiconductor manufacturing equipment billings for the quarter fell to US$13.79 billion, from US$16.99 billion a year earlier, according to data gathered by SEMI and the Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan from 80 global equipment suppliers.

On a quarterly basis, billings from worldwide semiconductor firms shrank 8 percent from US$14.96 billion, the data showed.

However, billings from Taiwan jumped to US$3.81 billion, compared with US$2.27 billion in the corresponding period last year, SEMI said.

That figure represented a growth of 36 percent from US$2.81 billion of semiconductor equipment shipped to Taiwanese chipmakers a quarter earlier, the data showed.

That made Taiwan the world’s biggest semiconductor equipment spender, surpassing South Korea’s US$2.89 billion.

China ranked third with US$2.36 billion in billings, followed by North America at US$1.67 billion and then Japan, with US$1.55 billion, the data showed.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) was the biggest contributor to Taiwan’s billings. The world’s largest contract chipmaker has budgeted record capital spending of between US$10 billion and US$11 billion on new manufacturing equipment for this year.

Most of the spending would go toward advanced technologies, including the 7-nanometer (nm) and next-generation 5nm processes, TSMC has said.

TSMC is expected to be the world’s first chipmaker to offer 5nm technology when the company ramps up production in the first quarter of next year, extending its leadership in offering 7nm technology, it said.

TSMC last week said that it has invested US$50 billion on capacity expansion over the past five years to solidify its technological leadership and fuel revenue growth.

Two weeks ago, North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment reported a 4.7 percent monthly growth in worldwide billings to US$1.91 billion for April, marking the first monthly growth since December last year.

However, SEMI said that it was premature to call the upturn “an inflection point in this cycle.”

The improvement reflected expenditures for advancing technology road maps, it said.

The global semiconductor equipment sector has suffered greatly this year due to the escalating US-China trade dispute, which has led SEMI to predict global semiconductor equipment spending will this year fall 14 percent year-on-year before an estimated 27 percent annual growth next year.

It said the increase could come on the back of favorable Chinese government policies and potential growth from innovative applications in the areas of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and automotive electronics.

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