Industry analysts agree the semiconductor industry achieved one of its best second quarters in revenue growth, driven by the booming memory device market. The DRAM market, in particular, is expected to reach record growth levels in 2017.
The semiconductor industry posted 6.1 percent growth compared to the previous quarter, reaching near record growth in the second quarter of 2017, according to IHS Markit. The market research firm pegged global revenue at $101.4 billion, up from $95.6 billion in the first quarter of 2017. “This is the highest growth the industry has seen in the second quarter since 2014,” according to IHS.
Similarly, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) said worldwide sales of semiconductors reached $97.9 billion in the second quarter of 2017, increasing by 5.8 percent compared to the previous quarter and 23.7 percent higher than the second quarter of 2016.
“The global semiconductor industry has enjoyed impressive sales growth midway through 2017, posting its highest-ever quarterly sales in Q2 and record monthly sales in June,” said John Neuffer, president and CEO, Semiconductor Industry Association, in a press release. “Sales into the Americas market were particularly robust in June, and all regional markets saw growth of at least 18 percent year-over-year. Conditions are favorable for continued market growth in the months ahead.”
Over the past few months, market analysts have increased their overall semiconductor growth forecasts due to continued tight supply and higher tags in the memory market. IC Insights expects the DRAM market to be the fastest-growing IC segment in 2017, increasing by 55 percent this year.
The memory chip market set a record in the second quarter, growing 10.7 percent to reach a new high of $30.2 billion with DRAM and NOR flash memory leading the way, growing 14 percent and 12.3 percent quarter-on-quarter, respectively, according to Mike Howard, director for DRAM memory and storage at IHS Markit, in a press release.
“The DRAM market had another quarter of record revenues on the strength of higher prices and growth in shipments,” said Howard. “Anxiety about product availability in the previous third and fourth quarters weighed on the industry. This led many DRAM buyers to build inventory — putting additional pressure on the already tight market. This year is shaping up to smash all DRAM revenue records and will easily pass the $60 billion mark.”
ASPs for NOR also have increased due to tight supply. Although NOR is a mature technology, market suppliers are either reducing supply or leaving the market, which has resulted in tight supply, and higher ASPS and revenue, according to Clifford Leimbach, senior analyst for memory and storage at IHS Markit.
Higher memory prices and tight supply also helped to drive growth in several application areas, according to IHS. Consumer electronics and data processing achieved the highest growth, increasing in revenue by 7.9 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively, quarter-on-quarter.
This was followed by industrial semiconductors, increasing by 6.4 percent. IHS analysts attribute industrial growth to several segments, including commercial and military avionics, digital signage, network video surveillance, HVAC, smart meters, traction, PV inverters, LED lighting and medical electronics including cardiac equipment, hearing aids and imaging systems.
Factory automation also is a big growth driver, “which alone is driving growth for discrete power transistors, thyristors, rectifiers and power diodes,” said IHS. Revenue for these power semiconductors is forecast to reach $8 billion in 2021, up from $5.7 billion in 2015. High demand for these parts have pushed lead times out as far as 24 to 30 weeks.
Although Intel remains the semiconductor leader, market researchers think Samsung has a good chance to capture the number one ranking thanks to high growth in the memory market this year.
“As the largest memory supplier, Samsung Electronics is set to gain the most,” said Andrew Norwood, research vice president at Gartner, in a statement. “This gives Samsung its best shot at capturing the No. 1 position from Intel for the first time.”