World News


Fabless up, memory down in 2008

The top-ranked chip suppliers stayed essentially the same at year’s end, but within the top 20 companies there were some significant changes, as tracked by IC Insights.

Sales of at least $3.6B were required to make the top 20 suppliers list in 2008, but only nine of the companies managed to grow sales in 2008 (vs. six with double-digit declines). As a result, collectively they managed a 3% decline from last year’s top-20 list.

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Top-growth Broadcom (+20% Y-Y) jumped six positions to the 17th largest chipmaker in the world, while Qualcomm surged five spots to the No. 8 position. Heading the other direction were, not surprisingly, memory firms: Hynix (-33%) dropped four spots to 10th place (and has annual sales runrate of <$4.0B), while insolvency-filing Qimonda (down 11 spots to No. 29) and Elpida are both out of the top 20 list altogether.


Spending on worldwide fabs for frontend manufacturing will hit a 15-year low point in 2009, according to SEMI. And Gartner (-24%), IDC (-22%), and In-Stat (-20%) all see an increasingly lousy year ahead for chip sales.

CEA-Leti and Brewer Science are extending their work with 3D chip stacking into a lab pact targeting 3D integration and MEMS coatings.

SEMATECH and Asahi Glass aim to speed commercialization of EUV mask blanks.

Synopsys, Powerchip, and Nikon are collaborating on 42nm flash memory optimization.

Selete is using Mentor Graphics’ Calibre platform for simulation and compensation of EUV flare for memory and logic ICs.


IBM, Applied Materials, and the U. of Albany are jointly developing process modeling for 22nm finFETs.

Tela Innovations has acquired Blaze DFM, adding power optimization to its own layout optimization capabilities.

IBM and PDF Solutions are developing a sofTware/design IP platform focused on chip scaling by “design co-optimization.”

Brion has added specs for Cymer lasers to its computational lithography modeling.

Wacker Chemie AG plans build $1B polysilicon plant in Bradley County, TN.

IBM will fab Ramtron’s 0.18µm FRAMs at its Burlington, VT site.

Axcelis is selling its 50% stake in a Japanese JV to partner Sumitomo Heavy Industries, and will use some of the cash to pay off defaulted notes.


Tokyo Electron will sell Oerlikon’s PV tools in Japan and elsewhere in Asia.

Formosa Epitaxy reportedly is eyeing a new LED plant in China’s eastern Shandong province.

Mitsubishi Electric is touting a record 18.9% conversion efficiency rate for a 150??150mm multi-crystalline silicon PV cell, thanks to a new rear-surface reflection structure.

Shin-Etsu Chemical has developed an ultrathick photoresist for thick plating applications such as copper pillar bump processing in semiconductor packaging.

South Korean scientists claim to have discovered electrical properties in a “multiferroic material” that may lead to better memory devices and solar power cells.

ASE and AMPI plan to offer semiconductor manufacturing turnkey services for MOSFET, power IC, and discrete customers.


Talks with potential investors was unresolved approaching a March deadline, so Qimonda began ramping down production at its Dresden site to “stand-by mode” to preserve its Buried Wordline technology until/if needed.

Suss MicroTec and iX-factory are combining efforts to work on microfluidics and optical MEMS, based on Suss’ new mask/bond aligners and wafer bonders.