In the News


Taiwan Set to Lead the Pack in Electronics

Taipei, Taiwan — Taiwan is on target to become the world's largest market for both wafer processing and semiconductor test equipment, according to information presented at a SEMICON Taiwan 2004 market briefing. The assembly and packaging sector is the only one Taiwan is not expected to lead.

In 2005, the value of wafer processing equipment shipped to Taiwan is forecasted to reach $5.82 billion, compared to $5.71 billion for Japan, which currently is the largest market for this equipment sector.

Taiwan has the largest market for test equipment this year, with shipments of $1.41 billion, growing to $1.83 billion in 2005. Southeast Asia remains the leader for assembly and packaging purchasing, largely because of the concentration of IC assembly operations there. This year, the assembling and packaging market in Taiwan is expected to be worth $720 million, compared to $900 million for Southeast Asia.

Global spending on semiconductor capital equipment from January to July was roughly $22 billion this year, SEMI says. The largest single category was lithography, which accounted for $2.7 billion of the total spending through July, followed by etching equipment at $2.2 billion.

While worldwide growth in equipment and materials will be strong in 2004, SEMI expects future book-to-bill ratios to decline as bookings moderate. A moderation in bookings trends may be healthy for the industry, notes SEMI, because it will allow device makers to absorb newly installed capacity.

IBM Unveils Next-gen, Lead-free Packaging Technique

EAST FISHKILL, N.Y. — IBM and SUSS MicroTec AG are working together to commercialize IBM's next-generation, lead-free semiconductor packaging technology, known as C4NP. As part of a new technology and licensing deal, SUSS MicroTec will develop a complete line of 300-mm and 200-mm equipment to enable commercialization of IBM's Controlled Collapse Chip Connection New Process (C4NP), which is a flip chip technology offering the combined advantages of lead-free, high reliability, fine pitch, lower material cost, as well as the flexibility to use virtually all types of solder compositions. IBM will continue advanced research and process optimization of C4NP and offer on-site process training to customers who purchase commercial systems from SUSS.

Pioneered by IBM researchers and engineers, C4NP represents a breakthrough in wafer solder bump technology. C4NP allows the creation of pre-patterned solder balls to be completed while a wafer is still in the front-end of a manufacturing facility, potentially reducing cycle time. The solder bumps can be inspected in advance and deposited onto the wafer in one simple step using technology similar to wafer-level bonding. The technology uses the simplicity of solder paste (stencil/screen), but instead uses pure molten alloy to produce the fine pitch capability of electroplating. Parallel processing allows increased efficiency and advanced quality control for wafer bumping.

C4NP is not dependent on wafer size, allowing 200- and 300-mm wafers to be processed with similar efficiency.

SEMI Sales Decline Slightly

SAN JOSE, CALIF. — North American-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted $1.52 in orders in August 2004 and a book-to-bill ratio of 1.00, according to SEMI.

"Semiconductor equipment bookings and billings for North American-based suppliers have declined slightly from peak levels in the past few months, yet remain at high levels — each above $1.5 billion," says Lubab L. Sheet, SEMI's research development director. "A number of recent company announcements suggest these levels may continue to soften in the coming months. However, we believe the industry is on track to exceed our overall worldwide forecast projection of $36 billion this year."

SEMI President and CEO Stan Meyers announced during SEMICON Taiwan that the semiconductor industry is strong and continuing to grow. "The growth is stable at high levels, which demonstrates caution from the industry in terms of investment and spending. It is exactly this caution that will sustain growth into next year and moderate the current cycle,".Meyers explained.

The 3-month average of worldwide bookings in August 2004 was $1.52 billion, which is 5% below the revised July 2004 level of $1.59 billion and 107% above the $731.8 million in orders posted in August 2003.

The 3-month average of worldwide billings in August 2004 was $1.51 billion, which is 1% below the revised July 2004 level of $1.53 billion and 90% above the August 2003 billings level of $792.3 million.