From 2017 to 2022, annual growth in IC industry capacity is forecast to average 6.0 percent per year compared to 4.8 percent average annual growth from 2012 to 2017.
IC Insights notes that memory producers Samsung, SK Hynix, Micron, Intel, Toshiba and XMC/Yangtze River Storage Technology are all planning to significantly ramp up 3D NAND flash capacity over the next few years, and Samsung and SK Hynix are boosting DRAM capacity this year and next.
The large swings in manufacturing capacity experienced in the last decade have moderated since 2010 which suggests that IC manufacturers are not investing in wafer fabs speculatively but rather building to established demand. This has been part of a general attempt to rebuild manufacturing capacity utilization which slumped in the economic crash of 2008-2009.
The risk is that chip makers, and memory makers in particularly may now return to more aggressive speculative wafer fab building. More that 18 million wafer starts per year of new capacity is expected to be added in 2019, and this number assumes some of the massive DRAM and NAND fabs being built by Chinese companies will not be carried out quite as aggressively as has been advertised. IC Insights believes that construction of these China-owned fabs is progressing slower than planned.
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