The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Falling CapEx forecast; GF’s FD-SOI ecosystem; GF’s RF chief; Sony’s semi spin-off.


Is the sky falling in the IC equipment market? Not yet, but watch out below. Semi capital spending is expected to reach $60.37 billion in 2015, down 1% from 2014, according to Pacific Crest Securities. “Although we trimmed 2016 capex three weeks ago, we are trimming some more. We now see semiconductor capex down 4% in 2016. However, we do not see capex falling off a cliff in 2016 (i.e., down 15% to 20%), and we believe certain drivers remain as positive tailwinds (10nm pilot lines, 20nm DRAM conversions, 3D XPoint, 3D NAND), albeit with risk as broader demand uncertainties dry up capex budgets,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities, in a research note.

There’s good and bad news for fab tool vendors. “We are lowering our Samsung 2016 CapEx estimate to $12.0 billion, or down 11% y/y, from our previous estimate of $12.8 billion, or down 5% y/y. We are lowering our TSMC 2016 CapEx estimate to $9.2 billion, or down 8% y/y, down from our previous estimate of $10.5 billion, or up 4% y/y,” Twigg said in the same report. “We are raising our Intel 2016 CapEx estimate to $8.3 billion, or up 8% y/y, up from our previous estimate of $7.9 billion, or up 3% y/y.”

CEA-Leti has joined GlobalFoundries’ ecosystem as an ASIC provider, specifically to support GlobalFoundries’ 22FDX technology platform. Launched this summer, the 22FDX platform is the industry’s first 22nm FD-SOI technology developed to meet the ultra-low-power requirements of next-generation connected devices.

GlobalFoundries has appointed semiconductor veteran Bami Bastani as senior vice president of its Radio Frequency (RF) Business Unit.

GlobalFoundries plans to develop its 10nm process technology in-house, according to a report from DIGITIMES.

Samsung Electronics announced that it has received the 2015 Excellence in Service and Responsiveness award from Cisco.

SEMI announced that FlexTech Alliance has become the first SEMI Strategic (Association) Partner, a form of inter-industry cooperation. In this partnership, FlexTech will continue to pursue its mission of fostering the growth of the emerging flexible, hybrid and printed electronics industry.


Sony announced a plan to spin out its semiconductor business into a new entity called Sony Semiconductor Solutions. The three main businesses within this segment are semiconductors, batteries and storage media. “The semiconductor business is highlighted by image sensors, a historically successful and profitable business for Sony,” said Brian O’Rourke, an analyst at IHS. “Today, it dominates the CMOS image sensor business, with Q2 2015 revenues of slightly over $1 billion, good for over 42% of the worldwide market, nearly three times the revenue of its closest competitor, Samsung Electronics.”

Then, why spin off the unit? “The answer may be in simplifying a corporate structure so that Sony can react more rapidly,” O’Rourke said. “If Sony has had a weakness in the image sensor market, it has been exploiting new markets and getting new sensors to market quickly. A recent example is the release of CMOS sensors with 1.0-micron pixels, the next step in CMOS phone sensor design. Both OmniVision and Samsung have already announced 1.0-micron models, while Sony has not. Also, Sony has been slow to new, emerging applications such as automotive cameras. It has just entered the automotive space in 2015, while competitors such as ON Semiconductor (through its acquisition of Aptina) have dominated the market for years.”


RF chipmaker Skyworks Solutions will acquire PMC for $10.50 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $2 billion. This acquisition propels Skyworks into some new IC markets, such as storage systems, optical switches and network infrastructure solutions.

SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering announced that Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TEL) has extended its research and development agreement through 2020, with $262.5 million in new investments at SUNY Poly’s NanoTech megaplex in Albany.

Bruker announced the signing of an agreement to acquire the shares of Jordan Valley Semiconductors Ltd. Jordan Valley’s in-line X-ray metrology products complement Bruker’s position in analytical X-ray technologies.

Bruno Guilmart has stepped down as president, chief executive and a director of Kulicke & Soffa Industries. Guilmart plans to retire, but will serve as an advisor to the board. The board has named Jonathan Chou, K&S’ senior vice president and chief financial officer, to fill the role of interim CEO. The company has formed a committee to conduct a search for a permanent successor.

Revenue from the sale of energy-saving semiconductors for large and small transportation equipment, including rail systems, shipping, electric forklifts, mobility scooters and golf carts, grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 2% to reach $486 million in 2014. The market is expected to reach $525 million in 2019, according to IHS.

Worldwide semiconductor revenue is forecast to total $337.8 billion in 2015, a decline of 0.8% from 2014, according to Gartner. This is first decline in revenue since 2012 when the market declined 2.6%. This forecast is down from the previous quarter’s forecast of 2.2% growth. Gartner predicts a more positive outlook for 2016 and is forecasting semiconductor revenue will increase 1.9% to $344.1 billion. However, Gartner forecasts an oversupply in DRAM in 2016.