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Semiconductor sales forecast to hit $676b in 2022

Pandemic supply chain and war in Ukraine has potential to disrupt recovery, warns Gartner

The value of semiconductors sold worldwide in 2022 is projected to reach $676 billion, although further revisions by Gartner are a distinct possibility, such is the increased market volatility.

Forecasting chip demand during a pandemic is something of a dark art and the conflict in Ukraine hasn't made things any easier, with two major suppliers of neon used to fabricate chips based in the war-torn country.

Suppliers Incas and Cryoin (based in Mariupol and Odessa respectively) are estimated to produce up to 54 percent of the world's neon and both shut up shop in early March following Russia's invasion. The inert gas is used in the lithography stage.

Alan Priestly, research vice president at Gartner, told The Reg that he expects the market to expand 13.6 percent to $676 billion, representing roughly half the growth that the global semiconductor sector logged in 2021. This latest estimate is already $37 billion higher than the prior quarter's forecast.

In a statement, he said: "The semiconductor average selling price hike from the chip shortage continues to be a key driver for growth in the semiconductor market in 2022, but overall semiconductor supply constraints are expected to gradually ease through 2022 and prices will stabilize with improving inventory situation."

Priestly qualified this by saying: "With the current ongoing situation in Europe… it is difficult to predict how it [chip supply] will pan out; there are potential disruptions."

Financial analyst Susquehanna said mid-April that semiconductor lead times stretched to 26.6 weeks in March, and Broadcom was at around 30 weeks. ASML said recently that an industrial conglomerate had resorted to buying old washing machines only to extract the semiconductors.

Gartner reckons automotive applications will face component supply constraints until next year – felt most tightly in terms of microcontrollers, power management integrated circuits, and voltage regulators.

"Although unit production of automotive vehicles will grow below expectation at 12.5 percent in 2022, semiconductor device ASPs are expected to remain high due to continued tight supply driving the automotive semiconductor market to double-digit growth (19 percent) in 2022," said Priestley.

He added: "Automotive HPC, EV/HEV and advanced driver assistance systems will lead the growth in automotive electronics sectors through the forecast period."

Slowing growth for PCs may ease the pressure on chip supplies, the analyst said.

Memory is forecast to comprise the largest portion of the semiconductor industry at 31.4 percent of total sales in 2022. DRAM and NAND are expected to remain in undersupply in Q2, with NAND entering oversupply in Q4 and DRAM doing the same in the second half of next year.

It never gets boring in the components industry. ®

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