SEMI: Wafer shipments, sales slide in ‘08


Worldwide silicon wafer area shipments and revenues fell in 2008 for the first time since 2001 as everything fell apart in the final months of the year, according to date from SEMI’s Silicon Manufacturers Group (SMG). Area shipments had been on track for mild ˜3%-4% growth through the first three quarters of the year, but a -34% plunge in 4Q (the first Q-Q decline since early 2005) pushed yearly shipments down to about -6% annual growth.

Wafer revenues slumped in 2008 as well, down 5.8% to $11.4B following two straight years of >20% growth.

Not surprisingly, the narrowly timed slump points to larger macroeconomic influences.  “The semiconductor market was not immune to the economic turmoil caused by the global financial crisis,“ said Nobuo Katsuoka, chairman of SEMI SMG and Shin-Etsu Handotai’s director of SOI process engineering department, in a statement.


For the full year 2008, global chip sales were off by -2.8% to $248.6B, the first Y-Y drop since 2001, according to the SIA. November results had tracked yearly growth to essentially flat vs. the SIA’s original estimates of 2.2% growth, but sales fell off a cliff in December (-16% M-M, -22% Y-Y).

Applied Materials, Oerlikon, and Ulvac all enjoyed record business in 2008 for PV cell manufacturing equipment sales, thanks to the “rise of the turnkey thin-film line“ as the key trend for the year, according to VLSI Research. Bunched together behind Applied ($455M) were Roth & Rau, Centrotherm, Oerlikon, and Ulvac, all separated by only $35M; Manz Automation, Schmid Gruppe, von Ardenne, RENA, and 3S round out the top 10.

Semiconductor Research Corp. and IMEC will jointly create “environmentally friendly“ processes and materials for advanced semiconductor manufacturing.

Global DRAM revenue is seen falling by a wider-than-expected 15% this year as memory chip makers were hit by heavy losses in the last quarter and cut supplies radically, research firm iSuppli said.


Intel has offered more specifics on its capex plans: ˜$7B over two years to ramp 32nm manufacturing capabilities at its sites in Arizona, New Mexico, and Oregon.

The US Army has committed to sponsor an additional five years of research and development at Arizona State U’s Flexible Display Center.

Spansion president/CEO Bertrand Cambou has resigned, days after the company indicated it is open to a sale/merger.


Consolidation is in the air in Japan: Toshiba is delaying some fab construction, while paying SanDisk ˜$900M to take over more of their flash JV; Toshiba and NEC reportedly are discussing merging their chip units; Renesas is shuttering older 5-in and 6-in. lines to upgrade to 8-in.; and Fuji Electric will close two chip production bases.

Suntech has acquired a $8.1M minority stake in Chinese polysilicon supplier partner Asia Silicon.

China’s Hua Hong NEC and Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. are regrouping their top executive teams ahead of a planned integration.

Sanyo is planning a new ??10B (US $110M) 200MW solar cell plant in Osaka in 2010, at the site of the company’s existing Nishikinohama facility.

As a consortium of banks figures out details of lending new money (US ˜$87M) to ProMOS, Taiwan’s government is mulling plans for much broader restructuring and consolidation of its domestic DRAM industry.


NXP has drawn down another $200M in revolving credit facility, less than three months after receiving a $400M infusion.

New Suss Microtec CEO Frank Averdung has taken his position several months earlier than planned.

Qimonda has filed for insolvency in Germany and in the US; without new investors it faces shutdown and liquidation.

The European Commission has approved €457M in funding for nanotech research work under the “Nano2012“ program, formed last year by STMicroelectronics, CEA-Leti, and IBM for work at Crolles and Grenoble.

ASMI and key shareholder Hermes have come to a mutual understanding: investors won’t seek to oust CEO Chuck del Prado, while the company will redouble efforts to strengthen the board and fill vacancies.