The growing application of semiconductor ICs in segments like automobiles, consumer electronics, and the industrial sector has compelled semiconductor IC vendors to increase their production capacities. This will create substantial demand for inspection systems in the global semiconductor market.
Whereas, the global semiconductor inspection system market was valued at USD 2.93 billion in 2015 and will reach USD 5.1 billion by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 11.74% during the forecast period.
Inspection systems are part of fabrication equipment in the semiconductor device manufacturing process. These systems are used to find defects in masks and wafers during the production process of semiconductor wafers.
The latest report from Technavio provides an analysis on the most important trends expected to impact the market outlook from 2016-2020.
The top four emerging trends driving the global semiconductor inspection system market according to Technavio hardware and semiconductor research analysts are:
- Growing proliferation of IoT and connected devices
- High need for semiconductor memory devices
- Growing acceptance of wearable devices
- Increasing vehicle automation
Growing proliferation of IoT and connected devices
The IoT is a network of interconnected computing devices comprising digital and mechanical objects or machines that has the unique ability to transfer data over the network without human-to-computer interaction. IoT is expected to see approximately 50 trillion GBs of data being generated through 30 billion devices by 2020.
“Sensors and micro-electromechanical systems are integral parts of IoT devices and are manufactured from 200 mm wafer. A total of one trillion sensors is estimated to be produced in 2020 to support the demand for IoT devices. This will require at least 1.7 million 200 mm wafers and therefore around three hundred 200 mm fabs,” says Navin Rajendra, an industry expert for research on semiconductor equipment.
High need for semiconductor memory devices
Semiconductor device manufacturers are shifting their attention from logic, analog, and discrete devices to memory devices such as 3D NAND and DRAM. The main reason for this shift is the high growth potential of semiconductor memory devices compared with other semiconductor devices. Moreover, this increasing need is complemented by the market dynamics of consumer electronics, which offer sufficient new opportunities to vendors.
OEMs of high-functionality smartphones, tablet PCs, PDAs, and notebooks are expected to launch new 3D NAND-integrated products. 2D NAND sellers are revamping their existing fabs to produce 3D NAND. For instance, Samsung has opened a new fab in China to produce 3D NAND in 2014 and is now looking to expand its facilities in 2016. The demand for specially designed DRAM is also increasing for particular applications due to its low power consumption.
Growing acceptance of wearable devices
Wearable devices such as smartwatches, smart fabrics, heart rate monitors, smart glasses, and fitness bands are used to track daily activities and monitor fitness levels and provide communication services. These sensor-integrated devices use mobile communication technology. Realizing the market potential from this sector, semiconductor device manufacturers such as Toshiba have started developing specialized ICs to support the technology requirements.
“The technology is set to gain significant momentum during the forecast period due to its adoption by the consumer segment. This will propel semiconductor device manufacturers to produce the semiconductor devices required for wearable devices,” adds Navin.
Increasing vehicle automation
The automation and electrification of automobiles have increased the demand for semiconductor wafers. A number of types of semiconductor ICs are used in automotive products like airbag control, GPS, ABS, car navigation and display, power doors and windows, infotainment, automated driving, and collision detection technology. The increase in car production is likely to boost the automotive product market during the forecast period. This will create the demand for semiconductor devices, which will indirectly trigger the demand for inspection systems during the forecast period.