The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Samsung tops Intel in IC rankings, NAND shortages, China’s IC efforts.


Market research
For the first time since 1993, the semiconductor industry has a new number one supplier in terms of sales—Samsung. Samsung is forecast to top Intel as the #1 semiconductor supplier in 2017, according to IC Insights. “Samsung first charged into the top spot in 2Q17 and displaced Intel, which had held the number 1 ranking since 1993,” according to the firm. “In 1Q16, Intel’s sales were 40% greater than Samsung’s, but in just over a year’s time, that lead has been erased. Intel is now expected to trail Samsung in the full-year 2017 semiconductor sales ranking by $4.6 billion. Samsung’s big increase in sales this year has been primarily driven by an amazing rise in DRAM and NAND flash average selling prices.”

Fig. 1: Forecast of top 10 semiconductor suppliers for 2017. Source: IC Insights.


DRAM supply remains tight. So what about NAND? DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce, reports that NAND demand remains strong, thanks to smartphones and SSDs. “The gap between supply and demand is larger compared with the previous quarter. However, the contract price of all product lines increased no more than 0-6% in this third quarter after a long period of continuous price increases, and the current price is approaching the highest level that OEM factories can afford,” according to the firm.

In 2014, China rolled out its National IC Industry Development Outline, a project aimed to propel the nation’s IC industry. Going forward, the Chinese government will continue to support the nation’s IC industry, according to TrendForce. So in its IC industry, how much will China invest?

Fab tools
SEMI reports that the three-month average of worldwide billings of North American equipment manufacturers in October 2017 was $2.02 billion. The billings figure is 1.8% lower than the final September 2017 level of $2.05 billion, and is 23.7% higher than the October 2016 billings level of $1.63 billion. “Equipment billings dipped in October, the fourth consecutive monthly decline during this record spending year,” said Ajit Manocha, president and CEO of SEMI. “In spite of this seasonal weakness, we expect equipment spending to increase by 30% or more this year and are positive about growth in 2018.”

Applied Materials recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Recently, Applied posted its results. “Applied Materials posted F4Q results above consensus and guided F1Q significantly above consensus, as demand trends remain very strong for both semiconductor and display equipment,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst with KeyBanc Capital Markets, in a research note. “Execution and margin performance were also good. Demand was strong across all segments, with display demand off the rails, up 65% quarter/quarter; this should decline in F1Q and continue to be lumpy while showing strong growth through 2018. Semiconductor equipment sales were down 4% quarter/quarter, roughly in line with guidance; however, we project this segment to be up around 17% quarter/quarter in F1Q, led by Samsung’s aggressive build-out. Service revenue continues to grow at a steady clip, up 6% quarter/quarter, though it should be down seasonally in F1Q.”

In a blog, Lam Research takes a look at the role of semiconductors in the healthcare industry. “The market size for medical technology devices is nearly US$400 billion worldwide, with semiconductors driving many advancements – especially in mobile and connected devices,” according to the blog.

Aixtron has completed the sale of its ALD and CVD memory product lines to Eugene Technology, a U.S. subsidiary of Eugene Technology Co. Ltd., South Korea. Aixtron will receive $60 million for the assets and $11 million for open supplier orders.

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