The global semiconductors market was valued at US$ 330 billion in 2016 is projected to surpass US$ 395 billion by 2024 with a CAGR of 2%. Significant growth opportunities offered by industrial and automotive segments, tremendous growth potential in BRIC nations and increasing focus on technological advancements in U.S. and China are expected to favor growth of the semiconductors market. In addition to industrial and automotive segments, the semiconductor market can be broadly classified into data processing, communications, and consumer electronics. On the basis of components, the industry can be further segmented into memories, MPUs & MCUs, logic, analogue ICs, discrete semiconductors, optical semiconductors, and sensors and actuators.

The semiconductors market is characterized by advancements and adoption of innovative business models in several industrial processes to improve speed, optimize size and provide enhanced functionality of certain applications. Major applications of semiconductors include designing, packaging technologies, assembly and testing.

Packaging Technologies Overview

Since 1965, the semiconductor packaging technology has expanded into several types of semiconductor packaging methodologies. The industry has witnessed several transformative technologies from dual In-line packaging in 1970, to the current 3D packaging technology. Features of 2.5D and 3D technologies include 30-40% more compactness, 2x to 3x faster speeds, increased scalability, and design flexibility at minimal costs.

Intel, Samsung, and TSMC increasing their 10nm finFET production ahead of the projected increase in demand. TSMC plans to produce 7nm finFET. Industry players such as TSMC, GlobalFoundries, Intel, and Samsung are investing in R&D activities for introducing technologies beyond 5nm in downsizing the chip sizes. The scalable and processing efficiencies offered by these products is expected to facilitate their demand. However, with growing miniaturization, cost associated with SoC designing is expected to witness considerable surge. Our analysis shows that the SoC designing at 5nm will cost over US$ 500 million which in turn, is projected to result in a shift in consumer preference towards alternative packaging technologies such as 7nm, 10nm, and 28nm.

Fabless manufacturing

Fabless manufacturing defines the business model that involves designing and sale of semiconductor chips and hardware devices, while outsourcing fabrication of the components. Labor intensive assembly tasks of the chips were mostly outsourced since the 1960s. Texas Instruments, Analog Devices, and Intel were among the few early adopters of outsourcing fabrication operations, and to overcome challenges that included weak infrastructure, growing production demand, and long supply lines. Fabless business models have helped market players gain an average annual EBITDA of around 15%. Outsourcing of fabricating operations has helped in achieving exceptional product qualities through specialist process operations. For instance, semiconductor fabrication operations are outsourced to foundries. TSMC, UMC, GlobalFoundries, Samsung, SMIC, Powerchip, TowerJazz, Vanguard International, and Fujitsu Semiconductor accounted for around 90% of the total semiconductor foundry market share in 2014.

Semiconductor processing technology is rapidly shifting to larger wafer fabrication that involves higher capital expenditure and operational costs for testing and assembling. Thus, industry participants are expected to remain inclined towards fabless manufacturing and focus on their fundamental capabilities, and outsource third party expertise for packaging, testing, and assembling of semiconductor devices.

Application Industries

Brazil, Russia, India, and China are projected to be key markets for semiconductors. In the last few years, the average number of semiconductors used per vehicles has increased owing to usage in safety systems, drivetrain technologies, telematics, ADAS, and hybrid and electric cars. Freescale Semiconductor, Infineon, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments, Renesas and Cypress are among the major players in the automotive semiconductor business domain.

Trends such as connected cars and autonomous driving or driverless cars have garnered interests of the automotive brands such as Volvo, BMW, Daimler, and GM. This is expected to generate huge investments in the semiconductor industry owing to the utilization of semiconductors in all the components including actuators, sensors to communication and infotainment devices. Moreover, growing energy demand, increasing inclination towards harnessing renewable sources, proliferation of high speed rail transportation, rampant penetration of electronic devices and smart grids will generate huge industrial application demands for semiconductors. According to our analysis, the focus on enhancing capacities of data storage has increased in the past few years owing to the requirements to tackle network congestions, privacy, power reliability, and enable secure access from any place across the globe. Moreover, data processing and communication market will also drive strong sales owing to increased usage of phablets, laptops and desktops across the globe.

Regional Landscape

China has emerged as the single largest manufacturer and consumer of semiconductor electronics over the last decade, and is expected to continue its dominance over the forecast period. According to Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), annual sales in China increased by 14% in 2016. U.S. semiconductor market is expected to remain the designing and skill intensive process development hub for the industry. Advent of V2V communication and cloud mobility solutions in the region are expected to provide considerable growth prospects over the next few years.

Industry Landscape

Key players operating in the semiconductor industry are Intel, Samsung, TSMC, Broadcom, Qualcomm, SK Hynix, Micron, TI, Toshiba, and NXP. The industry has witnessed consistent disintegration in order to maintain constant focus on specialized businesses skills. However, there have been some instances of reintegration of these specialized business skills by major technology players. For instance, in October 2016, Qualcomm Inc. announced its acquisition of NXP Semiconductors for over US$ 47 billion. The strategy was to diversify Qualcomm business through the acquisition.

R&D activities in the semiconductor industry over the past few years are expected to continue over next few years. However, increasing capital investments to cope with the miniaturization are likely to present a significant challenge for players operating in the industry.

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