Analysis |

Top 5 wafer capacity leaders raise their global share to 57%

At the end of 2021, 57% of the industry’s total monthly wafer capacity was owned by just five companies. One year earlier the share held by the top five was 56% and back in 2018 it was 53%. If we go back a decade, that share was about 40%, according to Knometa Research.

In a recent Global Wafer Capacity 2022 report from Knometa Research, it becomes clear that the industry continues to get more top heavy regarding the composition of companies fabricating ICs. 

Looking at the top five companies, together these giants had the capacity to process 12.2 million wafers per month at the end of 2021 – which is about 10% more that at the end of 2020.

2021 Rank2020 RankCompanyHQDec-2020 Capacity 
(K w/m)
Share of global totalDec-2021 Capacity 
(K w/m)
Share of global total
11SamsungSouth Korea3,36417%4,05019%
44SK hynixSouth Korea1,88110%1,9829%
  Total 11,10456%12,21757%
Global IC wafer capacity leaders

(Installed monthly 200 mm equivalent capacity at year-end)

The clear leader among the big five is Samsung. And in 2021 the South Korean company increased its lead even further. At the end of the year, Samsung held 19% of total global IC wafer capacity and 44% more capacity than the second largest company TSMC. As pointed out by Knometa's analysts, Samsung increased its capital spending 45% in 2020 – which in turn materialised into a rather sizeable increase in capacity in 2021. Most of this was spent on the construction of multiple 300mm fab lines at its site in Pyeongtaek.

As previously reported by Evertiq, Samsung said during its 2021 earnings call that it's planning to tripple its foundry capacity by 2026. These plans will include the new USD 17 billion fab to be built in Taylor, Texas.

TSMC's capacity growth in 2021 was relatively – according to Knometa – mild. But strong demand for its services spurred a significant increase in capital spending during the year – which will result in a higher capacity growth rate in 2022. TSMC plans to remain aggressive with its spending in 2022 and 2023 as well.

Most of TSMC’s recent fab construction activity has been centered at its Fab 18 site in Tainan. Also, the company recently started adding capacity again at its Fab 12 site in Hsinchu. 

Besides this, the Taiwanese manufacturer is currently setting up new locations outside its home market. The company is currently underway with the construction of a large fab in Phoenix, Arizona. TSMC has also partnered with Sony for a USD 7 billion 300mm fab in Japan

Knometa reports that Micron's capital spending the past couple years has been focused more on upgrading existing capacity for more advanced processing capabilities rather than on increasing capacity. Nevertheless, Micron made some additional capacity available in 2021 in the form of phase 4 at Fab 15, phase 2 at Fab 16, and an expansion of its legacy products fab in Virginia.

The next big fab project for the US semiconductor manufacturer, is the construction of a new 300mm fab at its site in Hiroshima. As previously reported by Evertiq, this fab is currently expected to open for production in 2024.

After boosting its investment levels back in 2018, SK hynix scaled back expenditures in 2019 and 2020, says Knometa. The company's Fab M15 in Cheongju and Fab C2F in Wuxi both began operations in 2019 but ramping of capacity and production at the fabs has been gradual. SK hynix did however increase its capex significantly in 2021 – which should translate to a larger increase in capacity for 2022.

In December 2021, SK Hynix took ownership of Intel’s Fab 68 facility in Dalian, China. However, the fab is still used by Intel to fabricate 3D NAND chips, so its capacity at the end of 2021 was not included as part of SK Hynix. 

And as pointed out by the researches at Knometa, capacity jointly owned by Kioxia and Western Digital increased at the lowest rate among the top five companies in 2021. The partners are increasing 3D NAND die production volumes more by 3D scaling advancements than by increasing capacity.

The partners have a new fab at their site in Yokkaichi scheduled to begin operations in early 2023.

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June 13 2024 1:49 pm V22.4.55-1