IC Insights wrote a new report about wafer manufacturers and predicts that use of 300mm wafers will increase steadily and reach 70.4 percent of the market in 2017, up from 56 percent in December 2012. In the same timeframe, 200mm wafer capacity is expected to fall from 32 percent to 21 percent, while 450mm wafer capacity will still be nearly non-existent in 2017. IC Insights predicts only 0.1 percent of global wafer capacity will be 450mm by December 2017.
Fabs running 200mm wafers are used to fabricate numerous types of ICs, such as specialty memories, image sensors, display drivers, microcontrollers, analog products, and MEMS-based devices. "Such devices are certainly practical in fully depreciated 200mm fabs that were formerly used in making devices now produced on 300mm wafers," IC Insights said.
In addition, IC Insights observed that as the industry moves IC fabrication onto larger wafers in bigger fabs, the group of IC manufacturers continues to shrink in number. "There are about 61% fewer companies that own and operate 300mm wafer fabs than 200mm fabs. The distribution of worldwide 300mm wafer capacity among those manufacturers is very top-heavy," the research firm suggested. "When 450mm wafer fabrication technology comes into existence, this manufacturer group is predicted to shrink even further to a maximum of just 10 companies, and a few of those are questionable."