SAN JOSE, USA: With the widespread adoption of LED technology in LCD backlight applications and growing interest in LEDs for general lighting purposes, LED manufacturers are poised to meet the soaring demand according to the newest update of the SEMI Opto/LED Fab Forecast. The industry has attracted a huge amount of capital pouring into the LED (light-emitting diode) supply chain from equipment and materials to LED epitaxy/chip fabrication and LED packaging capacity.
The SEMI Opto/LED Fab Forecast tracks over 250 Opto/LED fabs activities worldwide, with detailed information on fab construction and equipment spending, key milestone dates, capacity and ramp up schedule, and more. Last year, SEMI recorded explosive growth on equipment spending from LED fabs, jumping from $606 million in 2009 to $1.78 billion in 2010.
SEMI expects that LED equipment growth will continue this year to reach about $2.5 billion, a 40 percent increase year-over-year. If some projects do not ramp up as quickly as planned, then some spending will be pushed to 2012. Currently, SEMI forecasts the 2012 investment level as $2.3 billion worldwide.
Regional equipment spending shows an aggressive investment trend from China. Propped up by subsidy programs from local governments in China, new LED fab projects have blossomed in the past two years in China. China now accounts for almost 50 percent of overall equipment spending.
In regards to new LED fabs, SEMI recorded 19 new fabs that started operation in 2010, with another 27 new operation fabs expected in 2011. For 2012, SEMI forecasts 15 new fabs coming online next year.
On the capacity side, according to the SEMI Opto/LED Fab Forecast, worldwide LED fab capacity reached 4,350 thousand wafers per month (wpm, 2” wafer equivalent). SEMI expects strong demand from LCD backlight to continue to drive the capacity growth in 2011 with a 50 percent increase to reach 6,509 thousand wpm (2” equiv.).