Gartner Says Worldwide Semiconductor Spending to Reach $309 billion in 2012

Worldwide semiconductor revenue is forecast to reach $309 billion in 2012, a 2.2 per cent increase from 2011, according to Gartner, Inc. This outlook is down from Gartner’s previous projection in the third quarter for 4.6 per cent growth in 2012.

“With continuing concern over the future of the eurozone affecting the global economy, the high degree of uncertainty impacting spending by both consumers and organisations looks set to continue, bringing with it significant implications for the semiconductor industry,” said Bryan Lewis, research vice president at Gartner. “The near-term forecast is being shaped not only by economic forces but by an inventory correction, manufacturing oversupply and natural disasters.”

PC production unit growth for 2012 is projected to increase 5 per cent, which is down from 10.1 per cent growth in the previous forecast. While the weak economic backdrop played its part in this reduction, Gartner said that the floods that hit Thailand this year resulted in a hard-disk drive (HDD) shortage that has slowed the PC market even further. Gartner estimates that the supply chain disruption that resulted from the tragedy in Thailand meant that the PC production will be limited by HDD availability over the next few quarters until the HDD industry can resume full production.

Gartner’s 4Q11 forecast does revise the mobile phone production unit growth up slightly for 2012 from 7 per cent to 7.5 per cent. The media tablet production forecast has been lowered from 110 million to 107 million in 2012, although this is still a 63 per cent increase from 2011. Gartner analysts said that as smartphones ramp up in volume, they will dominate 2012 semiconductor growth.

The DRAM market is on pace to decline 26 per cent in 2011, and the market will return to growth when global DRAM revenue is forecast to increase 3 per cent in 2012. NAND flash is the expected to be the fastest-growing device in 2012 with 16.6 per cent growth because of strong growth in mobile consumer devices.

“Our latest forecast analysis shows that dollar growth in smartphones, media tablets and solid-state drives in total will generate 77 per cent of semiconductor market growth through 2015 — clearly a very significant concentration of opportunity,” said Mr Lewis.