Worldwide semiconductor capital equipment spending totaled $33.8 billion in 2013, an 11.5% decline from 2012, according to final results by Gartner, Inc. (www.gartner.com) Wafer-level manufacturing equipment demand performed above the market with strength in lithography and associated processes, while back-end manufacturing segments fared significantly worse than average, according to the research group.
“With this as a backdrop, capital spending was muted and dominated by a few top players,” says Klaus-Dieter Rinnen, managing vice president at Gartner. “A revival of memory-related spending during the year was not enough to stem the decline in equipment sales. Despite increased foundry investments, logic-related spending was a dampening force. Consequently, manufacturing equipment sales saw slow, sequential quarterly growth, and a fourth-quarter sales explosion was not enough to stop the second straight year of decline.”
Applied Materials held onto the No. 1 spot based on its relative strength in deposition and etch. Relative strength in lithography (albeit with limited sales in extreme ultraviolet [EUV]) helped ASML to retain the No. 2 position. Lam Research moved into the No. 3 spot due to its strong performance in etch and deposition. Tokyo Electron, just like other companies headquartered in Japan, was impacted by the significant decline in the yen-to-U.S.-dollar exchange rate, as well as an unfavorable customer buying pattern.
Notable is the further rise of the sales share of the top 10 vendors, now at 70%, compared with 68% in 2012. The top five vendors command nearly 57% f the total market, up 5 points from the prior year, says Rinnen. The advance of these large players symbolizes losses of smaller players in the competitive race and an increasing market dependence on a few vendors in the equipment market, he adds.
Wafer-level manufacturing outperformed the market in 2013, on relative strength in dry etch, lithography, manufacturing automation and deposition. Spending was selective, focused on upgrades and latest-technology buys with little addition of capacity. Logic spending focused on preparing for 20nm/14nm (nanometer) production. Only a few subsegments managed to expand — most notably, steppers in lithography, nontube chemical vapor deposition, conductor etch, rapid thermal processing and furnaces, and select process control segments (such as patterned wafer inspection, defect review and classification).
In the back-end segments, all major categories experience significant declines. The fourth quarter of 2013 was particularly slow as major semiconductor assembly and test services (SATS) vendors pushed out orders due to market uncertainty.