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Analyst: January IC sales "shocking"

One month isn't a "trend," but the surprising strength of preliminary data for January IC sales may cause a full rethinking of full-year predictions.

January IC sales were $21.4B, down just -4.5% from December—the smallest sequential January decline in more than two decades, says IC Insights, vs. a 1990-2010 average of -17% (and -20% from 1999-2010). Extrapolating with the 1999-2010 average growth rates for February (3%) and March (28%) points to 1Q11 IC sales of $71.6B, a 14% jump from 4Q10 (and a 27-year high), vs. a -1.2% average since 1984. Even a worst-case scenario using the historically poorest growth rates for February (-7%) and March (-19%) would result in 3% growth in 1Q11.

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Historical monthly IC market changes. *5-week accounting month. (Source: WSTS, IC Insights)

Add improvements in US unemployment (falling to 8.9%), factory orders (a 4-year high in January), and global PMI, and "the IC market is set for another year of solid growth" around 10%, predicts the analyst firm. The wild card: if oil prices surge above $100/barrel, that would put more pressure on US consumers and businesses, eventually trickling down to lower sales of products with semiconductor content.


Wafer capacity rose about twice as fast as output in 4Q10, according to SICAS data.

FEI and CEA-Leti have forged an agreement to characterize ≤22nm IC materials.

Cascade Microtech and imec will develop test methods and methodologies for emerging 3D TSV structures.

CEA-Leti and Edwards have demonstrated a controller system for subfabs that automatically idles process-support equipment.


Intel plans to invest more than $5B in a new Fab 42 14nm fab in Arizona.

Hans Stork, former top technical exec at AMAT and TI, is now CTO at On Semi.

Entegris and IBM will develop and test new filtration techniques for advanced semiconductor manufacturing.

DCG Systems has received $17M in IARPA contracts for 11nm IC fault isolation/logic analysis.


Samsung is showing a wide I/O 1GB DRAM utilizing 3D TSVs, targeting mobile devices.

ChipMOS Taiwan has sold idle noncore assets for $11M to unnamed third parties.

Toshiba has sold ¥53B in fab tools from its Nagasaki chip operation to Sony Semiconductor Kyushu.

ELTA Systems and Singapore's Institute of Microelectronics are pursuing a TSV substrate technology for multi-chip module (MCM) packaging.

Japan's Elpida is taking over Powerchip's commodity DRAM unit. Elpida, meanwhile, plans to set up a testing facility in South Korea for mobile DRAMs.

Researchers in Singapore have fabricated a graphene FET with ferroelectric gating.

Samsung has developed a mobile DRAM with 8× faster transfer speeds (12.8GB/sec).

STATS ChipPAC has launched fcCuBE, a flip-chip package combining Cu column bumps with bond-on-lead interconnection.


IMEC has installed ASML's NXE:3100 preproduction EUV scanner, which offers "considerably higher source power" and a factor-of-20 throughput increase.

A project involving CEA-Leti, SET, ST, ALES, and CNRS-CEMES aims to demo chip-to-wafer direct-metallic-bonding technology.

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