SAN FRANCISCO — After what is expected to be a second straight record sales year in 2018, the semiconductor equipment market is projected to decline by 4% next year before recovering to grow by more than 20% in 2020, according to the SEMI trade group.

In its year end forecast, released Wednesday (Dec. 12) at the Semicon Japan tradeshow, SEMI estimated that fab tool sales will grow 9.7% this year to reach a record $62.1 billion. The forecast is consistent with other forecasts released earlier this year, despite slowing sales growth in recent months.

But the forecast calls for tool sales to decline to $56.6 billion next year before rebounding to grow 20.7% in 2020, reaching a new record high of $71.9 billion.

SEMI projects that the market for wafer processing equipment — the largest category of semiconductor production equipment — will grow 10.2% this year to reach $50.2 billion. The chip test equipment market is expected to grow by 15.6% this year to reach $5.4 billion, while the assembly and packaging equipment market is forecast to grow 1.9% to reach $4 billion, SEMI said.

Semiconductor equipment market in billions of U.S. dollars. (Source: SEMI)
Semiconductor equipment market in billions of U.S. dollars. (Source: SEMI)

South Korea — paced by continued record spending by Samsung Electronics — is expected to remain the largest regional market for fab tools for a second straight year in 2018. China is expected to leapfrog Taiwan in 2018 to become the second largest market for chip equipment, growing at a rate of 55.7%, SEMI said.

For 2019, SEMI projects that South Korea, China and Taiwan will  remain the top three markets for chip equipment.