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Semiconductor Fab Spending Increasingly Optimistic for 2010

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Fab Construction Site While SEMI predicted a 2010 fab spending growth rate of over 60 percent at the end of last year, 2009’s 25-percent drop was discouraging enough to leave many companies and investors pessimistic about 2010’s rebound potential. However, it appears that the tables are turning.  According to SEMI’s most recent World Fab Forecast report, this year’s fab construction, facility growth and facility equipping may surpass 2009 levels by up to 88 percent-approaching $30.9 billion total.
This opportunity for fab growth appears to be coming from a few different places, including:

1. Reopening of delayed projects: A number of ongoing projects were delayed with 2009’s economic downturn, but many of these projects have been given a green light for completion this year.

2. Foundries: While foundries had been increasingly conservative with regard to their capital budgets over the last several years, they’re beginning to spend again. According to C.J. Muse, an analyst with Barclays Capital, foundry vendors are becoming engaged in a new “arms race” of capital spending.

3. Memory Companies: Previously, memory spending had shifted toward existing capacity upgrades. However, 2010 has seen announcements for a variety of new memory investments-which will most certainly have a positive impact on this year’s fab growth.

If these hopeful industry predictions come true, total 2010 semiconductor revenues could close in on $280 billion. According to SEMI, critical investments will include Intel’s upgrades of Arizona, New Mexico and Oregon facilities, GlobalFoundries fab New York fab construction project and Samsung’s 300 mm expansion (Austin, TX). In addition, a handful of other companies-like IBM, Micron and Texas Instruments-are continuing to push for investments, upgrades and expansions, as well.
2009 saw 27 volume fabs shut down-including “eleven 200 mm fabs and one state-of-the-art 300 mm fab,” said SEMI reports. Total 2009 installed fab capacity was only 15.4 wafers per month, but is expected to grow five to six percent this year. 2007 is still remembered as the peak for fab spending, with annual totals reaching $46 billion. While 2010 will still be a far cry from this number, investors are optimistic that the industry’s updated financial predictions are a small glimmer of hope in the midst of a stagnating economy.
For more specific information about 2010’s World Fab Forecast, visit the SEMI website. Concerned about your fab’s financial recovery? Call the experts at Glew Engineering. Glew Engineering Consulting has successfully aided dozens of clients when disaster struck their fabs-and our team of engineers and scientists stand ready to assist you with all of your fab and semiconductor equipment safety concerns and consulting needs.


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