IHS predicts double 12-inch wafer production by 2015 -

Industry watchers at analyst house IHS believe that semiconductor manufacturing on 12-inch wafers will enjoy double the production lines from 2010 up to 2015.

Chip makers will be using the 12-inch, or 300mm models for older products. Foundries and IDMs in 2015 should be producing roughly 8,753 million square inches of silicon on 12 inches. That's up 4,799.4 million in 2010 - or a compound annual growth rate of 12.8 percent for the chippy Five Year Plan.

The prediction is that manufacturers are realising it's more cost effective to use 12 inch wafers than they initially thought.

Over the last two years, foundries and IDMs both agree 12 inch wafers are a good fit for older technologies, and because of that, IHS believes the growth will be high.

IHS warns that the way to take advantage is by carefully managing high volume 12 inch wafer manufaturing. There is a chance that manufacturers will move onto 18 inch as well, because logically, says IHS, it's the best way to approach cost reductions to keep with Moore's Law.

However, the analysts warn that there are some points worth thinking about - IHS claims it's unknown if semiconductor manufacturers, tool suppliers and silicon suppliers will be able to turn a profit from 18 inch wafers.

According to IHS, the signs point to 'no', but some of the bigger companies will probably go ahead with it anyway.