Analyst: Litho, dielectric etch sole bright spots in 2007 tool market

October 12, 2006 – The overall market for semiconductor manufacturing equipment should be flat in 2007, as “enormous quantities” of chipmaking tools ordered in recent months is absorbed and new orders have slowed dramatically, according to analyst firm The Information Network.

The firm projects an even 0% growth in 2007, after 17.5% growth in 2006, but two segments are expected to see nearly double-digit growth: lithography and dielectric dry etch, according to president Robert Castellano. The overall litho market is projected to see 8% growth in 2007, down from 30.2% in 2006, with sales of 193nm immersion (wet) tools doubling to $1.2 billion. Meanwhile, growth in the dielectric etch sector (9% in 2007, vs. 22.1% in 2006) will be driven by memory chipmakers’ conversion to copper damascene processes and increasing use of copper interconnects.

“Already, NOR flash manufacturers have started the migration [to copper], and several NAND flash manufacturers will start using copper in 2007,” noted Castellano, in a statement, adding that following Micron Technology which has also converted to copper, most DRAM makers will start migrating in late 2007 or early 2008.

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