Memory sales are likely to drive a global rise in spend on semiconductor manufacturing capital equipment of 15 per cent to $38.5bn (£22.5bn) this year, says Gartner.
Bob Johnson, research vice president at Gartner, said total semiconductor manufacturing capital spend will grow by 7.1 per cent, however, as manufacturers pull back on new fab construction and concentrate on ramping up capacity instead.
"Momentum from strong fourth-quarter 2013 sales was carried forward through the first quarter, and is expected to bounce around a flat trend line through the remainder of 2014. In the longer term, growth continues through 2015, dips slightly in 2016 and increases through 2018."
Semiconductor revenue is tipped to rise 6.7 per cent to $334bn globally in 2014 from last year, according to Gartner's Q2 update figures.
Gartner has also found that the semiconductor manufacturing industry is starting to recover from the economic downturn. Key driver, logic sales, will expand less than capital spend related to memory through 2018 as mobile markets soften.
"Memory will provide most of the growth in capital spending through 2018, with NAND Flash being the primary impetus," Johnson said. "A favourable DRAM pricing environment is anticipated to produce strong revenue growth that will stimulate investments in new facilities. Propelled by the success of SSD, NAND Flash is increasing investment in additional capacity."
All this spending will be mostly down to "a handful" of firms, however: Intel, TSMC and Samsung comprise more than half of the total spend in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. The top five semiconductor manufacturers will account for 63 per cent of the 2014 market, according to Gartner.
Semiconductor manufacturing is cyclical: another increase in spend is expected next year, followed by a decline, and then a return to growth in 2017 and 2018.
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