The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Samsung’s 3D NAND cards; Lam-KLA update; Apple falls in China; falling IC forecasts.

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Chipmakers
Samsung Electronics has unveiled its newest memory card globally–the EVO Plus 256GB microSD card. Based on Samsung’s 3D NAND technology, the EVO Plus 256-GB offers the highest capacity for a microSD card in its class. Consumers can now record up to 12 hours of 4K UHD video or 33 hours of Full HD video on their mobile device or action camera without needing to change or replace the memory card. The card is based on Samsung’s advanced V-NAND technology, offering high read and write speeds of up to 95MB/s and 90MB/s, respectively.

AMD announced that its board has appointed Board member John Caldwell as chairman. Caldwell succeeds Bruce Claflin as chairman. Meanwhile, Skyworks Solutions has appointed Liam K. Griffin as chief executive. Griffin was also elected to the board, effective May 11. David J. Aldrich, Skyworks’ chief executive since 2000, will assume the newly established role of executive chairman and, in that position, will continue to serve as the chairman of Skyworks.

Fab tools
What’s new with Lam Research’s proposed move to acquire KLA-Tencor? “Lam and KLAC announced that they each received a second request from U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the pending merger of the two companies. The companies are working with the DOJ staff on the terms of resolving the DOJ concerns. We note that the deal has obtained regulatory approval from Germany, Ireland, Israel and Taiwan. The companies are working to gain approvals from the U.S., China, Japan and South Korea. Management now expects the deal to close in the third calendar quarter, a slight push out from previous expectation of ‘mid of the year’ (but in line with our expectation of September-quarter close),” said Amit Daryanani, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, in a report

FlexTech, a SEMI Strategic Association Partner, has announced the formal completion of three flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) R&D projects under its U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) technology investment agreement. The completed projects are with ENrG for a flexible ceramic substrate; nScrypt and NovaCentrix for a next-generation three-dimensional (3D) printing tool for creating complex and functional objects; and PARC, a Xerox company, for a flexible sensor platform.

M&A
POET Technologies, a developer of opto-electronics fabrication processes, has announced the completion of its acquisition of DenseLight Semiconductors, a Singapore-based provider of photonic sensing and optical light source products.

Market Research
According to Strategy Analytics, China smartphone shipments declined 5% annually to hit 105 million units in Q1 2016. Huawei maintained first position and captured 16% smartphone marketshare in China, followed by fast-growing OPPO in second place. Apple fell to fifth place. Linda Sui, an analyst at Strategy Analytics, said: “Apple posted a soft quarter in China, slipping to fifth position with 11% smartphone marketshare. Mixed demand for the iPhone 6s and stronger competition from OPPO and others were among the key factors for its lackluster performance.”

Worldwide semiconductor revenue will fall for a second consecutive year to $324 billion, down 2.3% from the previous year, according to International Data Corporation (IDC). The firm also forecasts that semiconductor revenues will log a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.9% from 2015-2020, reaching $364 billion in 2020.

Worldwide semiconductor capital spending is projected to decline 2% in 2016, to $62.8 billion, according to Gartner. This is up from the estimated 4.7% decline in Gartner’s previous quarterly forecast. “While the first quarter 2016 forecast has improved from a projected decline of 4.7% in the previous quarter’s forecast, the 2% decline in the market for 2016 is still bleak,” said David Christensen, senior research analyst at Gartner. “Excess inventory and weak demand for PCs, tablets, and mobile products continue to plague the semiconductor industry, resulting in a slow growth rate that began in late 2015 and is continuing into 2016.”

SEMI reports that the worldwide semiconductor photomask market was $3.3 billion in 2015 and is forecasted to reach $3.4 billion in 2017. After increasing 3% in 2014, the photomask market increased 1% in 2015. The mask market is expected to grow 2% and 3% in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Key drivers in this market continue to be advanced technology feature sizes (less than 45nm) and increased manufacturing in Asia-Pacific. Taiwan remains the largest photomask regional market for the fifth year in a row and is expected to be the largest market for the duration of the forecast.