In brief: Europe wants to double its semiconductor manufacturing capacity by 2030, and this week marks a small step in that direction. While companies like Intel are staging large multi-billion dollar projects in the region, Goodram's European manufacturing partner is making progress on a smaller, but just as ambitious expansion project for its DRAM factory in Poland.
Global semiconductor sales increased over 25 percent in 2021, crossing the $500 billion mark for the first time in history. This was fueled by strong demand for everything powered by chips, coupled with higher material costs that led to higher average selling prices for electronics. Memory was the best-performing category, with DRAM vendors in particular seeing the highest annual revenue growth.
This happened despite the ongoing shortages and supply chain woes that have affected the entire consumer tech industry as well as adjacent sectors like the auto industry. Foundries haven't been able to keep up with demand, and new factories won't be ready to churn out wafers until they can get a steady supply of silicon and the expensive lithography machines designed by ASML for advanced process nodes. And the cherry on top is that chipmakers still can't find enough skilled workers --- yet another problem that doesn't have an easy fix.
The good news is that companies are investing heavily in a more resilient supply chain that spans multiple regions, including Europe. This week, we learned that expansion on the only computer memory factory in the region is well under way.
Construction began nine months ago after Will Elektronic SA --- the manufacturer behind Goodram's DRAM and NAND products --- obtained the private investment necessary for the project. The goal is to expand the existing campus by 1,140 sqm in the warehousing and logistics area and by 1,200 sqm in the production section. The pure cost before factoring in the equipment that will be installed in the new production hall is estimated at $5 million. If all goes well, the manufacturer expects to complete the expansion by the end of 2022.
In the meantime, other companies like Intel are looking to invest up to €80 billion ($94.7 billion) into building new chip plants and support facilities in Germany, France, and Italy, amid a global race to expand capacity and reduce reliance on Asia for semiconductors.