Annual semiconductor shipments in excess of one trillion units are forecast to be the “new normal” beginning in 2016.
Semiconductor unit shipments are forecast to increase to 1,005.8 billion devices in 2016 from 32.6 billion in 1978, which amounts to average annual growth of 9.4% over the 38 year period and demonstrates how increasingly dependent the world is on semiconductors.
From 2008 to 2013, the average annual growth rate of semiconductor units cooled to only 5% due to global economic doldrums, but stronger 8% annual growth is forecast from 2013 to 2018 as global economies regain momentum and a healthier market prevails for electronic systems.
The strongest increase in semiconductor unit growth over the time span shown was 34% in 1984; the biggest decline was 19% in 2001 following the dot-com bust.
Semiconductor unit shipments first topped the 100-billion mark in 1987, exceeded 500-billion units for the first time in 2006 and then surpassed 600-billion units in 2007 before the global financial meltdown and recession caused semiconductor shipments to fall in 2008 and 2009, the only time the industry has experienced a back-to-back decline in unit shipments.
Semiconductor unit growth then surged 25% in 2010, the second-highest growth rate since 1978. IC Insights forecasts semiconductor unit growth of 8% in 2014, 11% in 2015, and 12% in 2016, which will result in annual shipments surpassing one trillion devices for the first time in 2016.
Interestingly, the percentage split of IC and O-S-D devices within total semiconductor units has remained fairly constant despite advances in integrated circuit technology and the blending of functions to reduce chip count within systems.
In 1978, O-S-D devices accounted for 79% of semiconductor units and ICs represented 21%. Almost 40 years later in 2016, O-S-D devices are forecast to account for 74% of total semiconductor units, compared to 26% for ICs.