Industry is putting the brakes on memory capex

Industry is putting the brakes on memory capex

Market news |
By Peter Clarke

The market research firm reckons overall semiconductor capex was $105.9 billion in 2018 with memory capex at 49 percent or $52.0 billion. The total capex is expected to decline by 7.6 percent to $97.8 billion in 2019. Memory capex in 2019 will fall by 20 percent to $41.6 billion.

Total semiconductor capex and memory share of capex. Source: IC Insights.

Memory capex has been on a long ramp up from $14.7 billion in 2013, about 27 percent of total semiconductor capex, to $52.0 billion and 49 percent in 2018. Notwithstanding the final contraction in 2019 the 2013-to-2019 compound annual growth rate has been 18.9 percent, IC Insights calculates.

Almost all memory capex is split between non-volatile memory, mainly flash, and DRAM. For the last decade flash/nonvolatile memory has secured slightly more than half of the memory capex and DRAM slightly less than half.

DRAM versus flash capital expenditure from 2010 to 2019. Source: IC Insights.

With Chinese entrants into the memory market and strong spending by established US, Korean and Japanese players the DRAM and NAND flash memory markets have been in overcapacity and pricing weakness.

This will drive a strong decline in spending on flash and a milder decline in spending on DRAM manufacturing, IC Insights predicts.

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Chip manufacturing overcapacity on the rise in China

Semi equipment spending shows memory-logic divide

IC Insights, SEMI far apart on significance of Chinese IC production

Applied Materials gears up to make emerging non-volatile memory

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