from Dylan McGrath

The 2011 semiconductor market forecasts have been trickling in over the past couple of months. Generally speaking, analysts are predicting modest, single digit growth.

Still, there is a significant spread in the forecasts. The predictions for 2011 semiconductor market growth range from 2.3 percent on the low end to 10 percent on the high end. For reference, here are the most recent growth forecasts from several of the analysts we track on the 2011 chip market.

Mike Cowan +2.3%
VLSI +4.4%
WSTS +4.5%
Gartner. +4.6%
iSuppli +5.1%
SIA +6%
Carnegie +8%
Semico +8%
IDC +9%
Semiconductor Intelligence +9%
IC Insights +10%

To get a sense of where some high-ranking semiconductor industry executives stand on 2011, I put out a call for their thoughts on the market. Taking a page from sports book odds makers, I framed the question by asking if they thought 2011 market growth would be over or under Gartner’s forecast of 4.6 percent growth.

Though I cast a pretty wide net, I received relatively few responses. The reluctance of many executives to address this topic may be in reverence to the market analysts who are paid to predict such things. In a sense, they are acknowledging that it’s a tough job and they might as well leave it to the professionals. Of course, the reluctance might also have something to do with our litigation-happy industry; executives may be afraid to put a stake in the ground for fear of being sued by investors or others if their forecasts turn out to be off the market.

Nevertheless, some brave souls did step forward to offer their thoughts on the 2011 chip market. Here is a sampling of what they had to say:

“Atmel will take the over on 4.6 percent growth for the chip market in 2011,” said Steven Laub, Atmel’s president and CEO. “Strengthening in the advanced economies with continued rapid growth in emerging countries should provide growing demand for industrial and consumer electronics products. On the supply side, although semiconductor wafer capacity has grown substantially during 2010, supply remains tight, which bodes well for stable pricing throughout 2011.”

Despite the fact that some analyst—including Gartner—expect the memory chip market to contract in 2011, Mark Adams, vice president of worldwide sales at Micron Technology Inc., said he is optimistic about 2011 because “the market trends for memory are very positive.”

Adams said the explosion of digital content means all devices—not just PCs—need to be intelligent, meaning they must be able to process and communicate. The growing use of smartphones and the applications they run translate into more opportunities for DRAM and NAND flash memory, according to Adams. The growing use and sophistication of automotive electronics also bodes well for memory, he added.

“While the economy has been tough to gauge, if we see some stability, we are encouraged that new application areas will generate IC growth greater than the projection by Gartner,” Adams said.

source eetimes