by Michael A. Fury, Techcet Group
July 14, 2011 - I am so embarrassed! I had told several of my friends that the week would be in the mid-60s with no rain, so don’t bother to pack an umbrella. As a resident of San Francisco, I understand that the morning wetness on the ground and all over your glasses is just ground fog, the stuff that keeps the coastal redwoods healthy. My visiting friends just think I’m a lousy amateur meteorologist.
Outlooks for breakfast
About 60 of us braved the early morning soup to attend the PennWell breakfast and market outlook. Pete Singer, editor-in-chief of Solid State Technology and several other electronics publications, presented his snapshot of technology status and trends. Perspective matters; Pete stated that the 22nm technology is "pretty much developed," and attention is now turned to 16nm — I wonder how many of the 28nm and 32nm fab process engineers would agree. Over 35 companies are signed up to the ISMI 450mm program, still not enough for a complete pilot line but enough to be a serious trend. Likewise, 3D through-silicon via (TSV) is now a current technology instead of a speculative future technology, although new alternatives continue to emerge.
Tom Hausken, research director at Strategies Unlimited, provided the 50,000-foot level view of the semiconductor market in a macroeconomic context. Overall, we’re back on track for a 5.7% CAGR that is contiguous with the pre-recession trend. One example he cite was Cymer, which is pure-play in lasers for semiconductor lithography. During the recession, they dropped down to single-digit quarterly shipments, then resumed their volumes very rapidly thereafter. (For years, I have used the following mathematics to characterize the cyclicality of the semiconductor manufacturing supplier community. The materials business behaves like the integral of installed capacity. The equipment business behaves like the first derivative of new capacity. Think about it; it’s not a bad model. Personally, I’ve found it to be a great guide for career decisions.) Aixtron and Veeco have taken the lead positions in supplying equipment for LED manufacturing, demonstrating once again that the pack leaders at one node or technology aren’t necessarily the leaders in the next node or technology. The rapid growth of LED manufacturing volumes has provided some cost reduction benefits to the GaN and SiC power device markets.
The NCCAVS CMPUG meeting attracted the usual suspects, with a lot of folks preferring to stand in the aisle rather than step into the arena. Having the talks on the show floor is a good enough marketing concept to be attractive, but the interference of the great hall buzz is still a distraction I would prefer to do without. CMPUG presentations will be available in a week or two on