Taiwan now No.1 biggest semiconductor equipment spender in world

Taiwan takes the No.1 spot in semiconductor equipment spending, bucking worldwide downturn

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(Photo from Pinterest user Lotan Morad)

(Photo from Pinterest user Lotan Morad)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Taiwan was the biggest spender on semiconductor equipment in the first quarter of this year, bucking a worldwide downtrend in the industry, announced SEMI on Tuesday (June 4).

Semiconductor manufacturing equipment billings for the first quarter from Taiwan leaped from US$2.81 billion from the fourth quarter last year to US$3.81 billion in the first quarter this year, representing an increase of 36 percent, reported SEMI. This also represented a massive 68 percent increase from the US$2.27 billion in billings from Taiwan in the first quarter last year.

In the process, Taiwan pulled ahead of rival South Korea's US$2.89 billion, after it saw billings drop by 8 percent from the previous quarter and a year-on-year drop of 54 percent. China took third at US$2.36 billion, but also saw a 13 percent quarterly drop in billings and a year-on-year decline of 11 percent.

North America took fourth place at US$1.67 billion, after it too saw a quarterly dip of 14 percent and a year-on-year plunge of 47 percent. Fifth place Japan took a heavy hit as well, with only US$1.55 in billings for the first quarter, a massive fall of 41 percent from the previous quarter, and a year-on-year skid of 27 percent.

This bucked a global drop of semiconductor manufacturing equipment billings down to US$13.79 billion, a quarterly drop of 8 percent and a year-on-year plunge of 19 percent, based on data gathered by SEMI and the Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan from 80 global equipment suppliers.

SEMI Industrial Anaysis Director Tseng Jui-yu (曾瑞榆) was cited by anue as saying that although memory capital expenditures will be reduced by 20 to 30 percent, foundries will benefit from a strong drive for 7-nanometer (nm) technology. Tseng said that semiconductor manufacturing capital expenditures have shown a steady growth trend in Taiwan this year.

Due to the continuous investment in advanced manufacturing processes by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the growth rate is expected to be at its greatest this year, reaching 20 percent, said Tseng. He said that foundry and logic investment are the main factors, which will reach a maturity stage later this year, likely leading to a downgrade in numbers.

Last fall, Tseng told CNA that the total production value of Taiwan's semiconductor industry will reach NT$3 trillion in 2021. He added that he expects to see year-on-year output to increase by 6 to 8 percent from 2020 to 2021.

Despite impacts on the industry from the U.S.-China trade war, TSMC has stressed that its capital expenditure target has remained unchanged at US$10 billion to US$11 billion, of which 80 percent will be spent on advanced processes, including 7nm, 5nm, and 3nm processes. As for the remainder, 10 percent will be spent on sealing and testing and another 10 percent will be allocated for special processes.

World Semiconductor Trade Statistics on Tuesday predicted that the global market for semiconductors will contract by 12.1 percent to US$412 billion, due to the U.S.-China trade war, Brexit, and weak smartphone demand, reported Nikkei Asian Review.

SEMI (formerly Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International) is an international trade group of companies that provide equipment materials and services for the manufacture of semiconductors and other electronic components. It is headquartered in Milpitas, California, but has offices worldwide, including in Hsinchu, Taiwan.