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First pure-play foundry cracks top R&D spenders

TSMC increased its R&D budget by a hefty 44% in 2010 to join the industry's biggest R&D spenders, jumping from 19th place to 10th, according to IC Insights. This reflects not only the continued trend of abandoning the IDM fab business model to go fab-lite or fabless—LSI, TI, AMD, and Toshiba have pulled the plug on fab operations and handed off to foundry service providers—but also the growing prominence of pure-play foundries in IC design, process technology development, and manufacturing, the firm says. It's also noteworthy that foundries spend less of their revenues on R&D than IDMs and fabless IC suppliers (5%-10% of sales vs. 15%-20%). The firm projects TSMC will surge to $1.1B in R&D spending in 2011.

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Intel has pledged a ~$9B capex budget for 2011, far above most estimates and ~73% higher than 2010; that's compared with expectations of flat industrywide capex for the year. The company's capex/sales will rise to 19%, up from 12%-13% in the past few years.

DRAM revenue will drop nearly 12% in 2011 following 2010's 77% growth thanks to a huge drop in ASPs, says iSuppli.

Nissan Chemical has joined SEMATECH's resist center at the U. of Albany to collaborate on advanced adhesion enhancing materials in EUV lithography.

Ziptronix has filed a complaint in a US District court alleging that Omnivision Technologies, TSMC, and TSMC North America "willfully and deliberately infringed" on several patents pertaining to low-temperature oxide bonding.

Toppan Printing and IBM will continue their work on leading-edge ArF immersion lithography photomasks to the 14nm logic node, extending efforts at IBM's VT facility and Toppan's Asaka site in Japan.


Precise control of magnetic regions in IBM Research's new "racetrack" memory technology enables >100× more storage than current techniques and for it to be accessed at much greater speeds, the company says.

Advanced Energy Industries has formed two business groups to separately focus on Thin Films (power conversion and thermal instrumentation) and Renewables (PV Powered and Solaron solar inverters).

AMD's Dirk Meyer has unexpectedly stepped down, reportedly at least partially due to disagreement over the company's newer initiatives, e.g. targeting mobile devices and tablets.

Nova Measuring Instruments says a foundry customer has accepted its T500 metrology tool as process-tool-of-record for the 3Xnm node.


Quick analysts' take on Samsung's 2011 capex plans: down -14% but possibly flat in semiconductors; DRAM significantly lower; foundry capex noticeably higher; and apparently some 2011 spending was pulled into 2010.

Hynix says it will invest $3B in 2011 on facilities and equipment, about the same it spend in 2010. The company also is planning to start production of its 30nm 4GB DDR3 memory chip in 1Q11.

Sony aims to spend $1.2B to double output of image sensors, a plan that also includes buying Toshiba's Isayaha chip fab for an estimated 50B yen (~US$600M).

Nanometrics says a Japanese chipmaker has ordered its CD metrology tools to support capacity expansion.

Invelux Optoelectronics has ordered Jordan Valley's QC3 HRXRD tools for quality control of LED epi layers.


Arkados has sold its semiconductor business to STMicroelectronics for $11M, which includes a licensing deal.

Fraunhofer ISIT has added an SPTS APS etch system to its MEMS line.

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