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Major foundries approach capacity limit

Posted: 14 Sep 2007     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:shortfall  capacity utilization rate  foundries 

There could be a possible shortfall of capacity at the major foundries by the end of 2007 and into 2008, warned IC Insights Inc.

The ''Big 4'' IC foundries ?TSMC, UMC, SMIC and Chartered ?are forecast to go from operating, in total, at a capacity utilisation rate of only 78.5 per cent in Q1, to 97.5 per cent in Q4, according to the research firm.

The "Big 4" foundries currently hold almost three-fourths of the total worldwide pure-play foundry capacity and 99 per cent of the 90nm and below capacity.

''Given the remarkable turnaround in the Big 4's capacity utilisation during the first eight months of this year, IC foundry customers are strongly encouraged to begin attempting to secure their Q4 2007 and 2008 capacity needs as soon as possible,'' said Bill McClean, president of IC Insights.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC), the world's largest foundry, is forecast to jump from a capacity utilisation rate of 83 per cent in Q1 to 100 per cent in Q4.

Rival United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) is projected to go from a capacity utilisation rate of only 70 per cent in Q1 to 95 per cent by year's end.

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC), the large China-based foundry, is also expected to have a capacity utilisation rate of over 90 per cent in Q4.

SMIC has significantly cut its capital spending over the past three years. The Rs.2,912.28 crore ($720 million) in capital expenditures planned by SMIC in 2007 are less than 40 per cent of what it spent three years earlier in 2004, which was Rs.7,442.49 crore ($1.84 billion).

Singapore's Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Pte. Ltd is forecast to be the only "Big 4" foundry under 90 per cent capacity utilisation in Q4. It is expected to have a capacity utilisation of 88 per cent by that time.

Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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