Chipmaking: June 2006 Archives

With much thinner margins than the foundries who actually produce finished wafers full of chips, the companies who package parts have been carefully avoiding spending money on additional capacity. That is pointing to a shortage in supply of packages, claim some producers.

According to Silicon Strategies, the packaging subcontractors are gearing up for a strong second half. But, because of the current shortages, which stand in contrast to the falloff in demand for wafer processing, some companies have started to bring packaging work back inhouse.

Statistics abound in the world of chipmaking. Some of the most useful are those prepared by Semiconductor International Capacity Statistics (SICAS), a body set up by the biggest chipmakers to track how much of the world's production capacity is being used. With its copious graphs and tables, the SICAS quarterly report provides a window into the volatile world of silicon production.

The latest figures, for the first quarter of 2006, show that the current boom in the sector differs from previous upswings in some interesting ways. They tend to indicate that the market is not overheating and that the current growth spurt has some way to go. However, they also provide support for those who believe that the latest round of upgrades to the sales estimates for 2006 were misplaced.