The Week In Review: Aug. 12

CapEx sky is falling; RF SOI pushed out?; LED overcapacity; EHS regs; memory models.

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By Mark LaPedus
Is the sky falling on semi capital spending? “We have seen several 2014 industry demand estimates in the 20%+ range, based on the ramps of FinFET and 3D NAND,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities. “We expect Samsung to ramp spending in Q4, but we believe foundry and logic spending will remain soft for several quarters. As a result, we are developing a more bearish view on mid-term equipment demand than most, with semiconductor CapEx expected to be up just 5% in 2014.”

Peregrine, RFMD, Skyworks and others are aggressively ramping up RF silicon-on-insulator (SOI) processes for the cellular market. And not long ago, Qualcomm rolled out an RF front-end device, with a power amp based on SOI. In a report, however, Doug Freedman, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, said: “Our checks with multiple sources with semiconductor supply chain including wafer and RF IC suppliers suggest that RF SOI wafer orders are being pushed out from Q3/Q4 (of 2013) to Q1/Q2 of 2014. Who do we suspect is the culprit? We believe that Qualcomm’s RF360 roadmap has been pushed out, as the company may have difficulty meeting its targeted time line of [getting] to market in the 2H13. The company stated on its last conference call that its first product in the RF360 family is currently sampling at a major tier-1 OEM.”

The LED industry is working through its overcapacity problems and will renew capital spending and capacity increases in 2014. According to SEMI, 2014 LED wafer fab equipment spending will rise 17% to nearly $1.2 billion in 2014, following a 30% decline this year and 45% decline in 2011.

SEMI members should be aware of three new EHS regulations. Taiwan has proposed new rules to govern how chemicals substances will be managed in the country. South Korea recently enacted new legislation to manage chemicals substances in the country. And the European Commission issued a draft proposal for a new regulation called “Market Surveillance Regulation.”

Applied Materials hosted U.S. Congressman Mike Honda and members of the newly formed Silicon Valley STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Advisory Board to discuss advancing STEM programs throughout schools across the U.S.

Cadence Design Systems announced the availability of new verification IP (VIP) models for the latest memory standards—LPDDR4, Wide I/O 2, eMMC 5.0, HMC and DDR4 LRDIMM.

TriQuint Semiconductor acquired CAP Wireless and its patented Spatium RF power combining technology that replaces traveling wave tube amplifiers (TWTAs) in communications and defense systems.

Fabless ASIC house eASIC announced a strategic investment by Seagate Technology. In addition to the equity investment, eASIC and Seagate also are exploring opportunities to jointly develop custom silicon solutions for Seagate’s portfolio of solid state drives (SSDs).

Apple’s migration of the production of key semiconductors from Samsung to pure-play foundries will single-handedly boost the growth of the chip contract manufacturing market this year.

As expected, worldwide tablet shipment growth slowed in the second quarter of 2013, according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation.