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A mountain to climb

The European Union's Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton has said that the bloc is aiming to increase its production of chips to 20% of global supply, from the current 10%, over the next ten years.

Breton made the comments to Italy's industry minister after a meeting and follows on from a commitment made by the bloc to allocate significant funds to Europe's semiconductor manufacturing capability.

However, what ever the level of funding it'll be a tall order to meet those ambitions and Europe will be challenging the likes of Taiwan and South Korea who, between them, account for over 40 per cent of the world's current wafer capacity.

Those findings are according to IC Insights’ Global Wafer Capacity report which shows that Taiwan surpassed South Korea in 2015 to become the largest capacity holder after having passed Japan back in 2011.

According to the report, Taiwan is set to remain the largest region for wafer capacity through to 2025 and is expected to add nearly 1.4 million wafers (200mm-equivalent) in monthly fab capacity between 2020 and 2025.

At the end of 2020, China held 15.3% of the world’s capacity, which was nearly the same as Japan and China is likely to surpass Japan in 2021 in terms of the amount of installed capacity.

Both North America and Europe are expected to increasingly rely on foundries in Taiwan and their shares in terms of capacity are expected to continue shrinking.

So it's going to take a massive effort on the part of Europe to boost production to meet Breton's lofty ambitions, let alone arrest the decline in its share of production. It'll be especially challenging when you consider the investment plans by the likes of TSMC and others.

Neil Tyler

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