Worldwide semiconductor capital spending to decline 2% in 2016: Gartner

Worldwide semiconductor capital spending is projected to decline 2 percent in 2016, to $62.8 billion, according to Gartner, Inc. (see Table 1). This is up from the estimated 4.7 percent decline in Gartner’s previous quarterly forecast.

“While the first quarter 2016 forecast has improved from a projected decline of 4.7 percent in the previous quarter’s forecast, the 2 percent decline in the market for 2016 is still bleak,” said David Christensen, senior research analyst at Gartner. “Excess inventory and weak demand for PCs, tablets, and mobile products continue to plague the semiconductor industry, resulting in a slow growth rate that began in late 2015 and is continuing into 2016.”

Table 1

Worldwide Semiconductor Capital Spending and Equipment Spending Forecast, 2015-2018 (Millions of Dollars)


  2015 2016 2017 2018
Semiconductor Capital Spending ($M)  








Growth (%) -0.8 -2.0 4.4 6.8
Wafer-Level Manufacturing Equipment ($M)  








Growth (%) -1.1 -1.8 6.9 7.9
Wafer Fab Equipment ($M) 31,485.4 30,841.9 32,930.3 35,443.4
Growth (%) -1.3 -2.0 6.8 7.6
Wafer-Level Packaging and Assembly Equipment ($M)  








Growth (%) 4.1 2.1 9.3 11.7

Source: Gartner (May 2016)

“The slowdown in the devices market has driven semiconductor producers to be conservative with their capital spending plans,” said Mr. Christensen. “This year, leading semiconductor manufacturers are responding to anticipated weak demand from semiconductors and preparing for new growth in leading-edge technologies in 2017.”

In addition, the aggressive pursuit of semiconductor manufacturing capability by the Chinese government is an issue that cannot be ignored by the semiconductor manufacturing industry. In the last year, there has been consolidation and merger and acquisition (M&A) activity with specific offers from various Chinese-based entities, indicating the aggressiveness of the Chinese. This will dramatically affect the competitive landscape of global semiconductor manufacturing in the next few years, as China is now a major market for semiconductor usage and manufacturing.

Looking forward, the market is expected to return to growth in 2017. Increased demand for 10 nanometer (nm) and 3D NAND process development in memory and logic/foundry will drive overall spending to grow 4.4 percent in 2017.

This research is produced by Gartner’s Semiconductor Manufacturing program. This research program, which is part of the overall semiconductor research group, provides a comprehensive view of the entire semiconductor industry, from manufacturing to device and application market trends. Additional analysis on the outlook for the semiconductor market can be found at “Forecast Analysis: Capital Spending and Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment, Worldwide, 1Q16.”

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