Chip manufacturing capacity expansion is set to continue

Chip manufacturing capacity expansion is set to continue

Market news |
By Peter Clarke

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Chip manufacturing capacity is expected to increase by 6 percent in 2024 and 7 percent in 2025 to reach 33.7 million wafers per month (8-inch equivalent), according to industry body SEMI.

Leading-edge capacity, defined as being for 5nm nodes and under, is expected to grow 13 percent in 2024, chiefly driven by generative artificial intelligence (AI) for data center training, inference, and leading-edge devices. Intel, Samsung, and TSMC are poised to start production of 2nm gate-all-around (GAA) chips, and this along with ramping 3nm production will cause leading-edge capacity to grow by 17 percent in 2025, SEMI said.

“The proliferation of AI processing, from cloud computing to edge devices, is fueling the race to develop high-performance chips and driving a robust expansion of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity,” said Ajit Manocha, CEO of SEMI, in a statement.

Capacity Expansion by Region

Chinese chipmakers are expected to maintain double-digit capacity growth, registering a 14 percent increase to 10.1 million wpm in 2025 – nearly a third of the industry’s total – after logging a 15 percent rise to 8.85 million wpm in 2024. Major foundry suppliers including Huahong Group, Nexchip, Sien Integrated and SMIC and DRAM maker CXMT are investing heavily to grow the region’s semiconductor manufacturing capacity, said SEMI.

This produces a risk of oversupply in non leading edge capacity. However, China seems prepared to do this in part to offset the impact of US export controls.

While China is expanding capacity rapidly other regions are expected to see capacity growth of no more than 7 percent in 2025.

Taiwan is forecast to rank second in capacity in 2025 at 5.8 million wpm, up 4 percent, while South Korea is projected to take the third spot next year, expanding capacity 7 percent to 5.4 million wpm. Japan, the Americas, Europe & Mideast, and Southeast Asia are expected to grow semiconductor manufacturing capacity 4.7 million wpm (3 percent YoY), 3.2 million wpm (5 percent YoY), 2.7 million wpm (4 percent YoY), and 1.8 million wpm (4 percent YoY), respectively.

The foundry segment is projected to increase capacity 11 percent in 2024 and 10 percent in 2025, reaching 12.7 million wpm by 2026.

DRAM capacity is expected to increase by 9 percent in both 2024 and 2025. By contrast, the 3D NAND market recovery remains slow, with no growth in capacity forecast for 2024 and a 5 percent increase expected in 2025.

The rise of AI applications in edge devices is expected to increase DRAM content in mainstream smartphones from 8Gbytes to 12Gbytes, while laptops using AI assistants will need at least 16Gbytes of DRAM. The expansion of AI to edge devices will also stoke demand for DRAM.

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