Semiconductor Equipment

8 inch wafer capacity to remain tight through 2023

10 February 2022

The chip shortage continues to impact the supply chain, specifically in the automotive market where vehicle makers are having to scale back production due to a shortage of semiconductors.

The outlook isn’t expected to improve anytime soon as TrendForce sees capacity for 8 inch wafers continuing to be tight until the second half of 2023. 8 inch wafers are typically used for a variety of power management and power discrete products that are usually found in the automotive market, specifically electric vehicles as well as 5G smartphones and servers.

TrendForce said because of the demand being placed on the semiconductor manufacturing sector, a trend of shifting certain products to 12 inch wafer production is emerging. However, to mitigate the shortages in overall 8 inch capacity, it is still necessary to wait for several mainstream products to migrate to 12 inch production, the company said.

This migration is estimated to happen toward the end of 2023 and into 2024.

Not surprisingly, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12 inch wafer capacity from foundries will be about 10% in the next five years.

By comparison, 8 inch wafers will have a CAGR of only 3.3% during the same time period due to the increased demand for capacity and inability to obtain equipment for fabs.

Migrating slowly

Currently, devices produced on 8 inch wafers include display driver ICs, microcontrollers, power management chips, MOSFETs and IGBTs, fingerprint, touchscreen ICs and audio codecs.

TrendForce said foundries plan to gradually migrate audio codecs and power management ICs to 12 inch processes.

Some PMICs are already manufactured on 12 inch processes, such as the PMICs used in Apple iPhones. Some IC companies such as MediaTek, Qualcomm and Richtek have planned to transfer PMICs to 12 inch production, which should bring some short-term relief to 8 inch capacity, but it won’t impact the overall capacity issues long-term.

Although most fabs still manufacture 8 inch wafers for power discretes, Nexchip has a 12 inch 0.11-0-15 micron process used to produce large-sized display driver ICs.

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