While there is a very clear view that there is a shortage of chips in the supply chain, the shipment of silicon wafers for semiconductors is seeing record levels according to the latest data from industry body Semi.
Global silicon wafer shipments are projected to grow 13.9 percent year-over-year in 2021 to a record high of nearly 14,000 millions of square inches (MSI).
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The data comes from one of Semi’s proprietary data collection program in cooperation with prime silicon wafer suppliers that are members of the Silicon Manufacturers Group (SMG), which is part of the Electronic Materials Group. This covers polished and epitaxial wafers up to 300mm diameter for chip production, but not photovoltaic production.
The prediction of 13,998 MSI 2021 compares to 12,290 in 2020 and 11,677 in 2019 before the pandemic hit demand. This indicates that demand continues to be strong and the supply issues are more about the capacity constraints. The research predicts this will continue to grow to 14,896 MSI in 2022 to 16,037 MSI by 2024, although this depends on capacity expansion. Japanese supplier Sumco has announced a $2bn investment to expand two plants producing 300m wafers to come online in 2023.
“We are seeing a significant increase in silicon shipments driven by strong secular demand for semiconductors across multiple end markets,” said Inna Skvortsova, an Industry Research & Statistics market analyst at SEMI. “The growth momentum is expected to continue in the following years but could be tempered by the slowing pace of the macroeconomic recovery and timing of the wafer manufacturing capacity additions needed to meet growing demand.”
Looking back the total wafer shipments in the peak year of 2000 were 5,552 MSI.
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