Wafer capacities tell their own tales

As chipmakers struggle to go beyond 22nm and 28nm, it seems older processes are dying faster than Gangnam Style. A recent report by IC Insights shows that more than a quarter of installed wafer capacity is dedicated to sub-40nm process geometries. 

At the end of 2012 sub-40nm plants were capable of churning out more than 3.9 million wafers a month, accounting for 27.3 percent of total worldwide production. At the same time 40nm to 60nm processes account for 18.8 percent, while 80nm to 60nm has a 7.6 percent share. 

Mature processes, used for high-voltage ICs in the 80nm to 400nm range, still make up about 35 percent of total wafer production. 

Intel is already at 22nm, while other foundries are still at 28nm, although TSMC and Globalfoundries are rather upbeat when it comes to their 20nm transition. Although the market for PC CPUs and big GPUs is shrinking, strong demand for mobiles is boosting demand for high performance SoCs and high density DRAM.