According to market research firm IC Insights, a total of 83 semiconductor manufacturing facilities were shut down around the world between 2009 and 2014, due to the collapse of the Japanese semiconductor industry and American and European companies’ preference for consignment production. Fully 34 out of the 83 were fabs owned by Japanese companies.
After 2010, the semiconductor division of Oki Electric Industry and Sanyo Semiconductor were driven out of business, and Elpida was acquired by Micron Technology in July 2013. At present, Japan has no DRAM manufacturers. In the NAND flash segment, Toshiba shut down five fabs during the past four years.
The Sendai earthquake in 2011 compounded the matter. The Japanese semiconductor market, which had reached 7.75 trillion yen (US$63.0 billion) in size in 2007, shrunk to 4.08 trillion yen (US$33.2 billion) in 2010, and 3.59 trillion yen (US$29.2 billion) in 2011, as both Japanese and non-Japanese semiconductor companies relocated their facilities to Korea after the outbreak of the earthquake. In North America and Europe, 25 and 17 factories were shut down in the five-year period, respectively. Meanwhile, the number stood at two in Korea and five in Taiwan during the same period. It is very exceptional that the number was limited to two in Korea, which is home to the two largest memory chip suppliers in the world. Samsung Electronics’ Giheung Line 5, one of the two, is currently in operation as an LED production line.
It is from 2009 to 2010 that the largest number of such plants were closed down. Specifically, the number amounted to 49 during the two years, 10 in 2012, 12 in 2013, and six last year. Industry experts point out an increasing number of companies in the industry are opting for fabless or fablite due to the rising costs of facility investment and maintenance.