The Korean semiconductor equipment market is expected to rank second in size this year, as leading players such as Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix are making an aggressive investment in the industry, while the global market is continuing to grow mainly in the fields of system-on-chip (SoC) and foundry manufacturing.
According to Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI), the Korean market is likely to grow 19 percent year-on-year to reach US$8.13 billion this year and become second only to Taiwan, which is expected to record US$9.5 billion. Last year, the runner-up was the United States.
At present, it is Korea and Japan that are home to the world’s fastest-growing semiconductor equipment markets. Japan is forecast to achieve a year-on-year growth of 27 percent, along with a market size of US$5.29 billion this year. It is particularly competitive in manufacturing equipment and materials, and the Japanese government and Japanese companies are increasing their investments in advanced memory and sensor technology.
The Korean semiconductor equipment sector is looking forward to its first boom in 10 years. The DRAM market is shifting toward DDR4 with the Intel Skylake, and new investment opportunities are emerging in the form of 3D NAND flash stacks, triple-level cells, microfabrication at the 10 nm scale, and development of the Internet of Things (IoT). Under the circumstances, the overall semiconductor demand is estimated to increase by US$12.5 billion or so this year.