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Top capex budgets expanding two-thirds in 2010

The biggest chipmaker spenders are taking an extra few crumbs from the capex pie plate in 2010, spending far more than the industry average—but in the end IC prices will still go up and shortages will happen before the year is through, according to IC Insights.

The top 10 capital spenders will account for 66% of total capex this year (up from 55% in 2005), with the top three (Samsung, Intel, and TSMC) making up more than half of that (38%). The top 10 also will increase their spending by a collective 66% this year vs. an anticipated 51% for the industry as a whole. (The top 10 minus Intel will see their capex spike 91%.)

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Top 10 semiconductor industry capital spenders, including share of joint-venture spending. *Includes Chartered in 2010. (Source: IC Insights, company reports)

Some commentary of individual company spending plans offered by the analyst outfit:

• Samsung: Returning to the top of the spender list (it slipped behind Intel in 2009), the company is still offering conservative estimates for its plans ($4.7B for memory), but don't be surprised if its total semiconductor capital outlays top $6B.

• Intel: With an 85% stranglehold on the MPU market, Intel knows how much capacity is really needed, and is in no rush to add significantly more or overspend. Both Intel and AMD will be focused on keeping MCU supplies tight to help firm up ASPs.

• TSMC: The rush of upstart GlobalFoundries might be behind the Taiwanese foundry giant's extensive capex boost in 2010: a 79% increase to $4.8B, its highest level since 2000.

• Toshiba: Despite continued strong demand for flash memory, Toshiba is sensitive to the overspend/overcapacity history of the memory market (a trend that caused the company's exit from DRAM). "Look for the company to be aggressive but not overly so," IC Insights predicts.



Within its annual awards to supply chain partners (26 this year), Intel revealed it is now sharing its lithography load between incumbent tool supplier Nikon and ASML.

Mentor Graphics and STMicroelectronics are expanding their three-year "DeCADE" collaboration to develop 32-20nm system-on-chip design technologies.

IMEC and Synopsys are collaborating on 3D stacked IC development.

Deal's off, apparently, between TSMC and Intel to make some of the chipmaker's Atom processors.

Elpida reportedly is purchasing Spansion's NAND flash memory operations.

Soitec is supplying SOI substrates to Chinese analog foundry CSMC for PDP driver ICs.

Samsung Electronics has licensed Kilopass' "XPM" embedded nonvolatile memory technology to add to its foundry business' advanced logic processes.

Tessera and UTAC have settled their litigation and updated a licensing deal.


Novellus Systems says it has created an advanced copper barrier-seed physical vapor deposition (PVD) process for through-silicon via (TSV) applications.

Tegal has sold off much of its technology portfolio to the OEM Group, choosing to forge ahead with DRIE and deposition technologies.

The Semiconductor Research Corp. and two Arizona universities have developed a sensor to cut water use in chipmaking.

DARPA is launching a technology program to develop advanced ultralow-power non-volatile logic ICs.

RF Micro Devices says it has made a solar PV cell on high-volume 6-in. GaAs line.

Materials firm Voltaix has pulled down $10M in equity funding, and plans to build a manufacturing facility in PA by 2011.

Novellus and IBM are joining forces to explore Cu TSV integration.

Cascade Microtech has expanded the Hz range of its flicker noise system.

Crossing Automation has upgraded its Spartan EFEM to 450wph throughput.

Intel PV spinoff SpectraWatt has closed a $41.4M funding round.

The EPA has recognized NEC's chip factory in Roseville, CA, for its waste-reduction program.

GlobalFoundries has asked NY State for $300M more in incentives; the state is offering $150M, according to local reports.

A group of Ohio U.-led researchers have created the world's smallest superconductor, a <1nm wide sheet of four pairs of molecules.


Toshiba's rejuvenated Fab 5 NAND flash memory project will start construction in July and be online by the spring of 2011, more than doubling total capacity to 500,000 wafers/month.

Showa Denko says it will spend ¥200M for a new JV in China to supply photoresist solvent to domestic manufacturers of semiconductors and LCD panels.

Alchimer has opened a new 300mm applications and development facility in Seoul.

Renesas has adopted Synopsys' Proteus OPC technology for 28nm development.

TSMC has broken ground for a LED R&D center and fab in Taiwan's Hsinchu Science Park; a ~$173M Phase 1 slates equipment move-in by 4Q10 and a production ramp in 1Q11.

Two FPD manufacturers in China have ordered >$13M worth of Edwards' pumps.

SVTC and Advantec are partnering for test wafers and services in Asia.

Under an extended partnership, Yushin Precision Equipment will make and sell 3M's equipment for temporary bonding of ultrathin wafers used in 3D packaging.

A brief power outage at Samsung Electronics on March 24 appears to have caused "minimal" internal impact on memory production.

Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment has closed a $46M Series D funding round.


Nemotek Technology has ordered more wafer bonding and UV nanoimprint lithography systems from EV Group, as part of a capacity ramp of wafer-level camera production.

X-Fab says it is the first pure-play foundry to offer a single-block embedded NVRAM process feature to combine benefits of SRAM and nonvolatile memory.

Danish metrology tool firm Capres A/S says its first automated 300mm microRSP-A300 tool is being installed at an unidentified Asian foundry.

French workers have approved the proposed acquisition of Atmel's Rousset fab by LFoundry; Atmel will continue to source from the site in a three-year per-wafer contract.

Bruker Energy & Supercon Technologies (BEST) has acquired the assets of x-ray/EUV lithography components supplier AIXUV GmbH.

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