In a mid-year report unveiled at SEMICON West 2023, the SEMI International Semiconductor Industry Association projected a dip and subsequent rebound in global semiconductor manufacturing equipment sales. After hitting an all-time high of US$107.4 billion in 2022, sales are anticipated to drop by 18.6% to US$87.4 billion this year before rebounding in 2024, potentially regaining their $100 billion footing.
Cao Shilun, SEMI’s Global Marketing Director and President of Taiwan Region, proposed that the semiconductor equipment market is undergoing a necessary period of readjustment following a period of historic growth. Predominantly led by flourishing opportunities in high-performance computing and networking, the market is poised for a strong recovery next year. Notwithstanding the short-term dip, the long-term solid growth forecast remains intact.
Overall sales for fab equipment, encompassing wafer processing, fab facilities, and photomask equipment, are anticipated to fall by 18.8% to US$76.4 billion this year, surpassing SEMI’s late 2022 prediction of a 16.8% drop. Nonetheless, global semiconductor equipment sales show indications of recovery next year, with a projected return to US$100 billion. Fab equipment is expected to account for the lion’s share of these sales, reaching US$87.8 billion, reflecting a 14.8% rise.
Back-end process equipment, impacted by an overall economic downturn and slackening semiconductor demand, has perpetuated last year’s downward trend. Semiconductor testing equipment sales are projected to drop by 15% to US$6.4 billion this year, with assembly and packaging equipment sales predicted to fall even more sharply by 20.5% to US$4.6 billion. However, both sectors are expected to see improvements next year, with estimated growth rates of 7.9% and 16.4%, respectively.
The two main sectors of wafer foundry and logic process, accounting for over half of total wafer manufacturing equipment sales, are anticipated to decline by 6% to US$50.1 billion this year, reflecting a relatively weaker end-market environment. However, the demand for advanced wafer foundry and logic process is expected to remain stable this year, bolstered by an increase in mature node spending, with a projected growth of 3% next year.
In a reflection of continued weak consumer and business demand for memory and storage, DRAM equipment sales are set to plunge 28% to US$8.8 billion this year, but are expected to recover by 31% to US$11.6 billion next year. Although the NAND equipment market also witnessed a decline this year, dropping 51% to US$8.4 billion, it is forecast to surge by 59% to US$13.3 billion next year.
In terms of regional semiconductor equipment sales, China, Taiwan, and South Korea are expected to retain their top three spots in global equipment spending this year and next. Taiwan is projected to lead this year, with China likely to reclaim the top position next year. Most regions are experiencing similar trends, with equipment spending declining this year before returning to growth next year.