Towards record capacity of 30 million wafers per month in 2024

Written by Guillaume
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An increase in wafer production of 6.4% is expected for the year as a whole.

If all these projects come to fruition as planned, semiconductor factories will be sprouting up all over the tech world, with a total of 42 new projects scheduled for 2024. This impressive figure takes on an even more interesting dimension when we compare the commissioning figures for 2022 and 2023. Last year, only 11 new plants were commissioned, while in 2022, 29 additional structures were planned.

These 42 new plants are still only an estimate, since the buildings are not actually in service, but the forecast comes from SEMI, quoted by the TechPowerUp website. The organization has just published its quarterly World Fab Forecast report. According to SEMI, the main new openings will take place in China, where the government is investing massively to boost the sector's growth. The plan is to launch 18 new factories in 2024, for a year-on-year increase in production capacity of around 12%. No other region of the world can match China's appetite, even though Taiwan is expected to increase its production capacity by around 4.2%, and South Korea by an even greater 5.4%, although only one new plant will be built, compared with six in Taiwan.

Artist's view of a TSMC factory © TSMC

South Korea seems to be focusing more on expanding and updating existing lines. This approach also differs from that of Japan, where growth is likely to be just 2%, despite the opening of four fabs. The fifth production region, the United States, is expected to outperform all others - with the exception of China - at 6%, with six new plants. Last but not least, Europe is trying to get back into the game, with seven new fabs and a production increase of between 3.6% and 4% compared to 2023. In Europe, we're still a long way from the ambitions set out by management, who would like to see the region producing 20% of the world total by 2030. It's important to bear in mind, however, that the production start-up date of 2024 is the culmination of projects started between 2015 and 2020, as it takes a long time to set up such programs. Moreover, the European structures mentioned in recent months by Intel and TSMC will not come on stream until 2027, at best.

In the meantime, wafer production is already set to increase considerably, starting next year. The 42 new factories will be responsible for an estimated 6.4% growth to over 30 million wafers per month, following an already enormous 5.5% increase in 2023 to a verified production of 29.6 million wafers.