STAMFORD, CT – Worldwide semiconductor wafer-level manufacturing equipment revenue totaled $33.6 billion in 2015, down 1% from 2014, says Gartner. The top 10 vendors accounted for 77% of the market, down from 78% in 2014.

"Slowing demand for key electronics end markets, combined with looming oversupply in memory, prompted semiconductor manufacturers to adopt conservative capital spending plans in 2015, which impacted spending on WFE," said Bob Johnson, research vice president at Gartner. "Strength in memory spending was not sufficient to overcome caution in logic markets, as major producers focused on logic process upgrades instead of adding new capacity."

Applied Materials retained the No. 1 position in the WFE market with 1.3% growth. The industry's investments in 3D device manufacturing, fin field-effect transistor (FinFET) and 3D NAND were the main drivers for the company's growth in 2015, says Gartner.
Lam Research experienced the strongest growth of the top 10 vendors in 2015, moving into the No. 2 position. The move of the industry to 3D device manufacturing pushed the company to 24.7% growth. Lam continues to be the dominant conductor etch manufacturer, but competition in the etch and deposition segment is expected to be fierce moving forward, according to the research firm.

"Capital spending in 2015 was selective, with logic manufacturers focused on upgrades and the latest technology buys, while memory added new capacity in response to increased demand and favorable pricing," said Johnson. "However, there was another factor at work: Both the yen and euro declined significantly against the dollar in 2015. In a market that was essentially flat over the previous year, the changes in these exchange rates had a noticeable effect, especially in the lithography segment, where all tools are priced in either euros or yen."

In dollar terms, lithography dropped 13%, the largest decline of any of the major segments. Two segments were especially strong: The ion implant segment grew 24%, and the material removal and clean segment grew 6%. Process control overall declined 2.5%, with the optical patterned wafer inspection segment dropping 15% as manufacturers held back on purchases of new inspection tools.

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