The worldwide semiconductor equipment market grew 143% in 2010 to nearly $41-billion as the market recovered from the industry slowdown of the previous two years, according to research organisation Gartner.

All major market segments grew significantly in 2010 with automatic test equipment (ATE) sales up by 149%, wafer fab equipment (WFE) sales up by 145% and sales of packaging assembly equipment (PAE) up by 127%.
"The semiconductor equipment market soared in 2010. Driven by the pent-up demand from the 2008 and 2009 downturn, and a stronger economy than projected, 2010 just kept getting better and better," says Klaus Rinnen, managing vice-president at Gartner. "Memory and foundry spending were the key drivers, although all areas showed significant growth."
"The year began with technology buys, and capacity purchases soon followed, resulting in one of the hottest growth years in industry history," says Rinnen. "We also witnessed a number of changes in the top 10 semiconductor capital equipment companies, as strength in double patterning benefited some companies more than others."
The share of the top 10 semiconductor capital equipment companies rose nearly 2 points in 2010, accounting for 63.4% of total revenue, up from 61.6% in 2009.
Applied Materials retained the No. 1 position in the market, but it could not increase its share because it did not directly capitalise on the strong lithography spending in 2010. ASML was the fastest-growing company among the top 10 semiconductor capital equipment vendors in 2010. The company moved from No. 3 to No. 2 based on the strength of immersion lithography for double patterning, growing to 13% market share. Tokyo Electron dropped to the No. 3 position, despite gaining some additional market share. Tokyo Electron's dominance in track and the associated growth was unable to offset relatively slower spending by some of its key customers.
The recent earthquake in Japan is going to have a near-term impact on the industry, depressing quarterly revenue in the second quarter of 2011. However, Gartner analysts say semiconductor equipment manufacturers should be able to recover in the second half of the year.
"Clearly there are some materials supply challenges ahead of the industry in the aftermath of the tragic events in Japan. Recent news points at a narrow avoidance of shortages for silicon and BT resin. The industry still faces challenges in the coming months," says Rinnen.