Only 27% of Industry Wafer Capacity Dedicated to New-Generation Process Geometries

Majority of Chips Made Using Outdated Process Technologies

by Anton Shilov
04/08/2013 | 11:55 PM

Only a little more than one quarter of installed wafer capacity worldwide is dedicated to producing IC devices using process geometries (or feature sizes) smaller than 40nm, according to data in IC Insights’ global wafer capacity 2013.  The report also shows that a surprising amount of capacity remains dedicated to mature processes with “large” features sizes.


Installed capacity is divided into six categories based on the minimum geometry of the processes used in wafer fabrication.  The six categories range from <40nm; ≥40 - <60nm; ≥60nm - <80nm; ≥80nm - <0.2µ; ≥0.2µ - <0.4µ; ≥0.4µ.  At the end of 2012, about 27% of global wafer capacity was for devices having geometries smaller than 40nm.  Such devices include high-density DRAM, which are typically built using 30nm- to 20nm-class process technologies; high-density flash memory devices that are based on 20nm- to 10nm-class processes; and high-performance microprocessors and advanced ASIC/ASSP/FPGA devices based on 32/28nm or 22nm technologies.

About 22% of global capacity is dedicated to the ≥80nm - <0.2µ segment, which includes the 90nm, 0.13µ, and 0.18µ process generations.  This “mature” process is widely used by pure-play foundries including TSMC, UMC, GlobalFoundries, SMIC, and TowerJazz and to manufacture a broad range of products for their diverse customer bases.

The least common technologies, at least in terms of the share of total installed capacity, are between the geometries of 80nm and 60nm (essentially the 65nm generation) and between 0.4 micron and 0.2 micron (essentially the 0.25µ and 0.35µ generations).  However, it is worth noting that the >0.4µ category maintains a fairly large share of total capacity, even though it has been longer than a decade-and-a-half since 0.5µ process technology was considered leading-edge. The main reason is that huge quantities of commodity type devices such as standard analog and general-purpose logic are manufactured with well-established process technologies having larger then 0.4µ feature sizes. In addition, high-voltage IC products require large-geometry process technologies.

It is not surprising that Samsung, Intel, Toshiba/SanDisk, SK Hynix, and Micron top the list with the greatest amount of leading-edge capacity.  The biggest capacity holders in the large-feature process category (>0.2µ) consist of several analog and mixed-signal chip suppliers.