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Soft demand, inventories cause forecast rethink

Among the first semiconductor industry watchers to shift direction and lower their optimistic forecasts, iSuppli is trimming its 2010 chip sales forecast (to 32% from 35%), citing "a significant slowdown" in consumer demand for some electronic devices, including market bellwether PCs, even as inventories build throughout the supply chain. iSuppli SVP Dale Ford sees a slight decline (-0.3%) in semiconductor revenue growth in 4Q10, and 7.8% for 2H10 vs. 1H10, down from the 10.7% in 1H10 vs. 2H09.

But that doesn't mean the market has peaked and is heading down, Ford noted. Visibility is poor and uncertainty high due to unstable economic conditions and market reports, which has led to handwringing about a possible "double-dip" scenario for electronics and the overall economy. Instead, Ford sees a "soft landing in 2011" and not "the kind of dramatic downturn seen in 2009." He currently projects 5.1% growth in 2011 (vs. 7% in the previous forecast), with quarterly data points returning to more normal seasonal patterns: decline in 1Q, improvements in 2Q and a peak in 3Q. 


The Israeli government has approved an eight-year, up to 678M shekel ($187M) grant to Intel (vs. the $400M for which the chipmaker had lobbied) to help upgrade its Fab 28 in Kiryat Gat to 22nm process technologies.

Tessera is suing Sony and Renesas claiming lapsed licensing of its packaging technology, and logged a complaint in US District Court against UTAC for breach of contract.

Four new members have joined the eBeam Initiative: Abeam Technologies, EQUIcon Software, Synopsys, and TOOL Corp.


With great sadness yet fondness we say goodbye to Selma Uslaner, one of SST's first editors back to our inception in 1958, who passed away in late September. Her contributions to SST, the industry—and a generation of women in electronics—are legendary.

ATREG has spun out of real estate firm Colliers to offer transaction advisory services for "cleanroom technology manufacturing" in semiconductors, solar, and data centers.

Edwards Vacuum has broken ground at its new $1.5M, 55,000+ ft2 headquarters in upstate NY.

ISMI is offering a Web-based calculator to track equipment performance (e.g. MTBF, MTTR, MTOL) for SEMI E10-conformant reporting.

Honeywell Electronic Materials is expanding production capacity for 300mm sputtering targets and raw materials.

Danaher is acquiring Keithley Instruments in a cash deal valued at ~$300M.

Cree has opened a new 150mm LED wafer production facility in Research Triangle Park, NC.


Elpida Memory reportedly is considering investing in some Taiwanese DRAM makers, in order to close its gap with rival Samsung.

TSMC has received the Taiwan government's green light to upgrade its Shanghai fab to 0.13µm process technologies.

ChipMOS has settled a breach-of-contract dispute with Spansion for $68M, half the $135M it had sought.

STATS ChipPAC has opened a 300mm embedded wafer-level packaging BGA (eWLB) fab in Singapore.

A "major logic foundry in Asia" has placed a multisystem order for Ultratech's LSA100A laser spike annealing tools for its 40nm ramp.

Researchers at S. Korea's Sungkyunkwan U. have developed a low-temperature (40°C vs. 120°C) method for making graphene.


Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov of the U. of Manchester have won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work in graphene.

CEA-Leti and SPP Process Technology Systems have agreed to develop and optimize etch and deposition technologies for high aspect ratio 300mm through-silicon via (TSV) 3D IC processes.

IQE is planning a share sale to raise £20.8M in order to fund its acquisition of Sb substrate supplier Galaxy, expand manufacturing capacity, and repay debt.

The European Commission has granted €21M in loans and grants to Mapper Lithography to fund its e-beam litho efforts.

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