Semiconductor manufacturers, particularly memory makers, have been sitting on capacity expansion plans for a while, but they’ll likely get started on them soon: IC Insights expects 17.9 million wafers (200 mm equivalent) to be added to the worldwide capacity. Historically, this already is a high number. In 2021, however, the market researcher forecasts a record capacity of 20.8 million more wafers being processed.
Typically, the IC industry meets most of its IC unit demand by increasing wafer starts, not by dramatically increasing the number of dies per wafer. The number of good ICs shipped per wafer increased by an average of only 0.9 percent annually from 2000 through 2019. As a result, about 86 percent of the average annual IC unit volume growth over the 2000-2019 time period (6.5 percent) was met by increasing wafer starts, with 14 percent attributable to an increase in the number of good dies per wafer.