72 fabs closed in four years, says IC Insights

72 fabs were closed between 2009-2013 and another nine fabs are to close this year, says IC Insights.

IC Insights Fab Closure

Since mid-2007, the IC industry has been paring down older capacity (i.e. 200mm and smaller wafers) in order to produce devices more cost-effectively on larger wafers.

A few fabs have been refurbished for production using larger wafers or for production of “non-IC” products.

One example is a 300mm wafer fab operated by Sony that closed, but was retrofitted and has returned to service manufacturing image sensors for the company.

40% of fab closures since 2009 have been 150mm fabs. Qimonda was the first company to close a 300mm wafer fab after it went out of business in early 2009. ProMOS and Powerchip closed their respective 300mm wafer fabs in 2013.

Regionally, semiconductor suppliers in Japan have closed 28 wafer fabs since 2009, more than any other country/region over the past five years. North America (23) and Europe (15) also had double-digit fab closures

Fabs closed or on the bubble in 2014 include Intel’s Fab 17 (200mm) in Hudson, MA; International Rectifier’s 150mm Fab 10 in Newport, South Wales; three fabs (two 150mm, one 125mm) at Renesas Electronics; two outdated NXP fabs (one 100mm, one 150mm) in Nijmegen, The Netherlands; and a 75mm wafer GaAs fab used by Panasonic Semiconductor to produce optoelectronic devices.

The closing of the two NXP fabs was announced a few years ago and was expected to be finalised in 2011, but was delayed due to strong demand for analog and logic ICs and some discrete components that are manufactured at these facilities. A 200mm fab continues to operate in Nijmegen.

As the cost of new wafer fabs and manufacturing equipment skyrockets, IC Insights expects several more companies to shutter older fabs and transition to a fab-lite or fabless business model in the coming years—good news that for foundries but bad news for equipment and material suppliers.

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