The wave of new fabs reappears,the boom of semiconductor equipment continues

Up to now, the time period for chip shortages has lasted for more than one year, and the upstream wafer capacity is in short supply and cannot be expanded quickly, resulting in shortages of various types of chips such as MCUs, power management chips, display driver chips, and power chips. The issue is serious, and the stock-out period is expected to continue until 2022.

Driven by the strong upstream market, domestic and foreign semiconductor manufacturers including Intel, Samsung, TSMC, GF, UMC, SMIC, Infineon, Bosch, Kioxia, and Micron have announced new fabs. A large number of orders have also poured into the field of semiconductor equipment, supply chain problems have frequently occurred, and equipment delivery periods have been repeatedly extended.

SEMI released the latest quarterly World Fab Forecast on June 23, stating that global semiconductor manufacturers will start the construction of 19 new high-capacity fabs before the end of this year, and start construction of another 10 in 2022. Fabs to meet the ever-increasing demand for chips in markets such as communications.

The wave of new fabs reappears, and the boom of semiconductor equipment continues

It was reported in early 2021 that as early as the outbreak of the epidemic, the delivery of semiconductor equipment was more or less affected, and various factors such as restricted logistics operation, shortage of parts, and shutdown restrictions caused temporary supply delays. . At that time, the market showed a state of depression, orders tended to be conservative, and the subsequent market broke out, it has entered a period of supply shortage.

Subsequently, the problem of the extension of the delivery period of semiconductor equipment has also intensified. Industry insiders pointed out that the equipment in the entire semiconductor field is scarce, and basically no equipment can be spared. The original three-month delivery date has been extended to half a year, and the half-year delivery date has been extended to 1 year. . For second-hand equipment, prices have also risen sharply in a short period of time.

Today, the boom in the semiconductor equipment market continues, and the influx of new orders is also accelerating.

According to the latest "Global Fab Forecast Report" released by SEMI, global semiconductor manufacturers will start the construction of 19 new high-capacity fabs before the end of this year, and start construction of another 10 fabs in 2022. Meet the increasing demand for chips in the broad market.

SEMI China Taiwan President Cao Shilun pointed out that as the industry continues to increase its efforts to solve the global chip shortage problem, the equipment expenditure of these 29 fabs is expected to exceed 140 billion US dollars in the next few years.

According to incomplete statistics, semiconductor manufacturers including SMIC, China Resources Microelectronics, Anshi Semiconductor, Geke Microelectronics, and China Microelectronics have fab projects under construction and planning. At the same time, including TSMC, Silan Microelectronics, Guangdong Numerous companies such as Sinochip, Hua Hong Semiconductor, Jita Semiconductor, Jinghe Integration, Yangtze River Storage, and Changxin Storage are actively carrying out the construction of the second phase of the project to expand production capacity.

It is understood that the cycle from establishment to production of a new wafer fab is about 2 years, and the largest capital expenditure of the production line comes from semiconductor equipment, which accounts for up to 80% of capital expenditure and only 20% of plant construction. In the second phase of the project, since the plant has been built in the first phase, the equipment expenditure can even account for as much as 90%.

Obviously, if the above-mentioned plan to build a new fab remains unchanged, the boom cycle of the semiconductor equipment field can last until at least 2023.

The procurement cycle has been greatly extended, what is the solution to the shortage of parts?

In recent years, domestic semiconductor equipment has been introduced into domestic fabs in good condition. Domestic etching equipment, cleaning equipment, chemical mechanical polishing equipment, rubber coating and developing equipment and other products have all changed from 0 to 1, and entered the stage of 1 to N. Large-scale Shipment is coming soon.

At the same time, the recognition of domestic semiconductor equipment by domestic fabs is gradually increasing. An employee of a fab in the expansion stage said that all the semiconductor equipment purchased by the company before was imported, but during the technological transformation and expansion project, The introduction of domestically-made equipment, in addition, the localization rate of the company's newly built fabs will reach about 25%.

According to industry insiders, the fab originally had reserved space, which could be added to the production line by adding some links of equipment to expand production capacity, but now the equipment is "not available", so the production capacity cannot be expanded quickly.

In fact, the "unavailability" expressed by the above-mentioned industry insiders is not because of import restrictions, but because the procurement cycle has been greatly extended. Equipment manufacturers in Japan, Europe and the United States have seen a surge in orders, and they cannot be shipped in time. If you want to purchase US semiconductor equipment , The review cycle has also been substantially lengthened.

Therefore, the long-term delivery of semiconductor equipment is also one of the reasons why the expansion of fabs is restricted, leading to chip shortages and price increases.

As mentioned above, the reasons for restricting the delivery of semiconductor equipment include surge in orders, limited logistics operations, shortages of parts, epidemics, restrictions on work stoppages, trade wars, shortages of processing and assembly capacity, etc., which are the result of multiple factors. the result of.

Among them, the shortage of parts and price increases is particularly serious, and the impact of the shortage of parts on domestic and foreign semiconductor equipment manufacturers has gradually surfaced.

According to Japanese media reports, Japanese metal processing intermediary Caddi conducted a questionnaire survey of 32 semiconductor manufacturing equipment manufacturers, and 59% of semiconductor equipment manufacturers said that in the past year, they had parts because their existing parts suppliers were unable to keep up with their production. Insufficient supply, and more than 70% of semiconductor equipment manufacturers said they had faced issues such as procurement delivery, price, and quality.

At present, companies facing the problem of insufficient parts supply have been looking for new parts suppliers, including those who have not produced semiconductor-related parts before.

As a high-precision manufacturing industry, the production of semiconductor equipment has very strict requirements on the quality of parts and components. Japan has a favorable advantage in the field of semiconductor equipment and parts. However, the current domestic supply chain has not been formed, and the added value of domestic parts is not high. Reliance on imports of core components is a common situation among domestic semiconductor companies.

"The company's parts are distributed in Japan, Europe and the United States and other parts of the world. Although they have not been affected by the Sino-US trade frictions and are not within the scope of restrictions, due to the epidemic and hot orders, the delivery date of almost all parts has been greatly reduced. A person from a domestic semiconductor equipment manufacturer said that fortunately, the company has overstocked in recent years, and anticipating supply chain problems, it has already started the research and development of localized alternatives and core components in advance.

In fact, key components have a great impact on the stability, productivity, and accuracy of semiconductor equipment. Therefore, major international semiconductor equipment manufacturers, including ASML and Applied Materials, have used their own technology to overcome them, or acquire upstream manufacturers to master key components. In its own hands, such as ASML's acquisition of Cymer, the SK Group is also considering acquiring Japanese parts suppliers.

Obviously, active stocking and over-purchasing have become short-term strategies for domestic semiconductor companies to deal with supply chain problems. However, in the long run, it is only through active self-research of core components, seeking cooperative companies for localized substitution, and promotion of localized components. The fundamental problem is to achieve technology upgrades and cost reductions, but this is not an overnight task. It requires a long period of development, testing, and verification.