Worldwide semiconductor capital equipment spending totalled $37,8-billion in 2012, a 16,1% decline from 2011, according to final results by Gartner.
Wafer-level manufacturing underperformed the market in 2012, pulled down by weakness in lithography and deposition. Among the major sectors, those more strongly driven by logic manufacturing, 28/20-nanometer (nm) processing and yield ramps-ups did better.
“Continued oversupply in DRAM and the shift to NAND into oversupply led to a reduced need for capacity,” says Klaus-Dieter Rinnen, managing VP at Gartner.
“Memory manufacturing-related purchases declined significantly. Logic-related spending provided only a weak counterforce, impacted by slowing overall semiconductor device demand in the second half of 2012 and bulging inventories. Consequently, manufacturing equipment sales realised a declining quarterly pattern, starting in the second quarter through the end of the year.”
Applied Materials reclaimed the number one spot based on its relative strength in deposition and process control. Weakness in lithography and limited sales in extreme ultraviolet (EUV) caused ASML’s decline. Similar to Applied, Tokyo Electron benefited from its relative strength in the nonlithography sectors it serves. Lam Research moved into the number four position with its merger with Novellus Systems.
“Notable is the further rise of the sales share of the top 10 vendors, now approaching 70%, compared with 61% in 2008,” says Rinnen.
“The advance of these large players symbolises losses of smaller players in the competitive race and an increasing market dependence on a few vendors in the equipment market.”
The back-end segment, and especially the wafer-level packaging (WLP)-related segments, outperformed the market. These segments were either tied to the relative strength of logic investments, such as advanced RF or system-on-chip (SoC) test equipment, or to the increasing popularity of bump, flip-chip and other WLP processes, such as stud bump bonding and wafer bonders for through-silicon vias (TSVs).
The process control segments outperformed the total wafer fab equipment market as companies ramped up production at the 32/28 nm node and needed increased inspection and defect review tools to monitor increasingly complex processes. Within the process control segments, e-beam patterned wafer inspection saw the best performance, up 36% in 2012.