The Week In Review: Aug. 19

Applied’s CEO shuffle; dip pen litho woes; analog consolidation; 3D NAND; GF says safety first; DRAM matures.

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By Mark LaPedus
Applied Materials named Gary Dickerson, who has been serving as president of the company, as CEO. Mike Splinter, who held the reins since 2003, was elevated to executive chairman of the board. Dickerson served as the CEO of Varian, which Applied acquired in 2011, as well as the president and COO of KLA-Tencor.

Applied Materials also announced its Q3 results. The company reported net income of $168 million for the quarter on $1.98 billion in net sales. Sequentially that is up slightly from Q2, but down year over year. Set against the backdrop of a slump in manufacturing equipment around the globe, which has been driven by weaknesses in Europe and Asia, this is relatively good news. “We are seeing stronger investment by our memory customers, and our display business booked its highest orders in over two years,” said Splinter in a statement.

With little or no fanfare, NanoInk has filed for bankruptcy. Founded in 2001, the company pioneered so-called Dip Pen Nanolithography (DPN), a direct-write, tip-based lithography based on atomic force microscope (AFM) technology. “NanoInk did file for bankruptcy earlier this year. The company was abruptly shut down in February, and the bankruptcy was announced several weeks later. I believe it is in Chapter 13,” according to a spokesman for the company.

The consolidation in analog continues. Maxim announced a definitive agreement to acquire Volterra Semiconductor. Volterra is a supplier of power management solutions. The transaction value is approximately $605 million equity value or $450 million net of Volterra’s cash position of approximately $155 million.

At the Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, Calif., Gill Lee, a senior director and principal member of the technical staff at Applied Materials, was on a panel, entitled “Flash Below 20nm: What is Coming and When?” Lee and others talked about 3D NAND and other subjects. “3D NAND presents some significant changes to the traditional semiconductor manufacturing model,” Lee said in a blog.

Samsung announced that it has begun mass producing the industry’s first 3D Vertical NAND (V-NAND) flash memory device. Samsung will make the 3D NAND device in a fab in Korea. It also likely will ramp up the device in a new 300mm fab in Xi’an, China, said Greg Wong, an analyst with Forward Insights. The new China fab will shortly move into production. “It’s mainly about market access to the China supply chain,” Wong said. “Costs won’t necessarily be much lower since capital and material costs dominate wafer costs. Operational efficiency and yields also factor into the cost equation.”

Ajit Manocha, president and CEO of GlobalFoundries, recently was the 2013 recipient of the “SEMI Outstanding EHS Achievement Award.” At an event, he spoke about key concerns and issues in semiconductor manufacturing, including energy and water conservation, emissions reduction, zero-incident safety culture, and a conflict-free supply chain policy.

Cadence Design Systems announced that Freescale used the latest release of Encounter Digital Implementation (EDI) System to tapeout its next generation QorIQ T4240 system on chip (SoC) running at 1.8 GHz.

Micron Technology is cutting 5% of its workforce following its acquisition of Elpida, according to the Associated Press and other news outlets. That equates to about 1,500 jobs.

Cisco is also cutting jobs. “The big news from Cisco is likely to be the perceived down-tick in global macro conditions, which is prompting management to execute a 5% workforce reduction,” according to Doug Freedman, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets.

FLIR Systems has acquired a significant portion of the assets of Tessera’s Micro-Optics business based in Charlotte, N.C. Total consideration paid by FLIR was approximately $15 million.

Forty-three years after Intel introduced the first DRAM device in 1970, the DRAM market has finally matured. A good sign that the DRAM market has reached maturity is that capital expenditures in 2013 are forecast to be $4.0 billion, only slightly more than the $3.9 billion spent during the great recession year of 2009, according to IC Insights.

Worldwide mobile phone sales to end users totaled 435 million units in the second quarter of 2013, an increase of 3.6% from the same period last year, according to Gartner.

Quarterly solar photovoltaic (PV) module shipments for the 20 leading PV manufacturers exceeded 5.8 gigawatts (GW) during the second quarter of 2013 (Q2’13). This record-high module shipment volume represents 21% growth from the Q2’12 level of 4.8 GW, according to findings from NPD Solarbuzz.