The capacities are not yet sufficient for the production of
Hardware

The capacities are not yet sufficient for the production of chips on 200 mm wafers – the deficit will only be reduced from 2023

Between 2020 and 2025, the growth rate of chip production in the world’s ten largest semiconductor fabs will be about 10% per year. However, most of these companies will focus on expanding their processing capacity for 300mm wafers, with an average growth of 13.2% per year. At the same time, the production of chips on 200mm wafers will grow much more slowly.

Image source: TSMC

Image source: TSMC

Due to factors such as the difficulty in acquiring the necessary equipment and relatively low profitability, most fabs will only be able to slightly increase the production of chips on 200mm wafers by optimizing existing capacities. For this reason, according to TrendForce calculations, the compound annual growth rate will not exceed 3.3%. The most common products made from 200mm wafers are power management chips used in electric vehicles, 5G devices, servers and other electronics.

Demand for semiconductors is not declining, leading to a severe capacity shortage for 200mm wafer processing that occurred in the second half of 2019. To mitigate the impact, there is a trend to switch some products to 300mm wafers. However, in order to effectively deal with the crisis, it is necessary to transfer most of the main products to 300mm wafers. This transition is expected to be completed in the second half of 2023-2024.

At present, most products using 200mm wafers are large display control chips, touch panels and fingerprint scanners, power control chips, audio codecs and the like.

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As for power management ICs, most still rely on 200mm wafers with a transistor size of 0.18-0.11um. The exception is iPhone power controllers, which use 300mm wafers with 55nm transistors. Companies like MediaTek, Qualcomm, and Richtek are also moving some of their power management ICs to 300mm wafers. However, since the transition to a new manufacturing process involves lengthy design and testing processes, these plans will take time.

Audio codecs for laptops, of which Realtek is the main supplier, are all made on 200mm wafers. In the first half of 2021, the shortage of these chips affected laptop shipments. Realtek is currently working with SMIC to shift production of audio codecs to 300mm wafers. The start of mass production of new chips is expected in the second half of this year.

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About the author

Dylan Harris

Dylan Harris is fascinated by tests and reviews of computer hardware.

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