The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Is IBM-GF chip sale dead? Plus, NY’s SiC consortium; TSMC stumbles; cool stuff at Semicon.


IBM’s move to sell its chip business to GlobalFoundries may have stalled or is dead, according to the Albany Times Union and other news outlets.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state will partner with over 100 private companies, led by GE, to launch the New York Power Electronics Manufacturing Consortium. GE will be a lead partner in a fab, housed at the CNSE Nano Tech complex, which will develop and produce 6-inch silicon carbide (SiC) wafers. IBM and GlobalFoundries are also part of the group, according to reports.

TSMC posted mixed results for the quarter. In a conference call, TSMC Chairman Morris Chang acknowledged the company would lose share in the finFET market to an undisclosed competitor in 2015. That competitor turns out be the combination of Samsung and GlobalFoundries. Chang said that TSMC decided to focus on its 20nm ramp in 2014, which delayed its progress with its 16nm-based finFETs. Some observers, however, believe that TSMC is struggling to get its finFET to yield. In a research note, Michael McConnell, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securties, said: “(TSMC’s) 16nm finFET volume production is on track to begin in 4Q15. However, TSMC expects its market share at the 16/14 nm FinFET node to be lower than Samsung/GlobalFoundries in 2015, primarily due to a later time to market. We believe TSMC could lose initial orders for 16/14nm finFET from Qualcomm and Apple to Samsung/GlobalFoundries. That said, TSMC expects to regain leading share on 16/14nm in 2016 given order visibility.”

In a blog from Lam Research, here are some of the cool things the company saw at this year’s Semicon West show.

Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TEL) achieved another milestone, unveiling the name of the combined company—Eteris [pronounced: eh-TAIR-iss].

ASML posted mixed results in the quarter. “ASML cut its full-year guidance meaningfully as the foundry FinFET ramp remains in flux (around five tools slipped out of 2014) and as three customers postponed EUV tool deliveries for upgrades. ASML is also seeing very little 3D NAND activity. Q2 results beat consensus, and Q3 guidance was in line,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities, in a research note. For EUV, “ASML highlighted its achievement of 200 wafers per day at a customer site, double the throughput the company achieved in the prior quarter. The company’s target of 500 wafers per day for later this year was reiterated, and the company is targeting 1,500 wafers per day in 2016.”

Intel posted mixed results in the quarter, although the company is still losing money in the mobile space. Intel’s initial 14nm devices, code-named Broadwell, remains delayed. “The bigger issues for shares, in our opinion, are the implications of the 14nm Broadwell delay–pegged at 6 months per management, and we suspect mainstream models are delayed further based on PC OEM availability in 1H15,” said Hans Mosesmann, an analyst with Raymond James, in a research note.

Taiwan specialty foundry vendor Vanguard International Semiconductor Corp. acquired a 200mm fab from Nanya Technology. The fab is now called VIS Fab3.

Korean foundry vendor Dongbu HiTek announced the immediate availability of a low voltage BCDMOS process (BD130LV) at the 0.13-micron node that is ideally suited for implementing the main power management IC (PMIC) for smartphones and tablet computers.

The global tablet applications processor market registered a 30% year-over-year growth to reach $912 million in Q1 2014, according to Strategy Analytics.

Based on Strategy Analytics estimates, Qualcomm, Apple, MediaTek, Samsung andSpreadtrum grabbed the top-five smartphone applications processor spots in Q1 2014.

Should Qualcomm worry about the pending competition in the cell-phone chipset business? “In my opinion, Qualcomm should worry not at all in 2014 but they should worry a little in 2015. This is the year of announcements by all the LTE modem pretenders that ‘will give Qualcomm a run for their money.’ Reporter’s words, not mine. In reality, none of those 4G competitors will be shipping big volumes this year, and next year will be slow buildups by chip houses other than MediaTek, who could do real damage to Qualcomm next year in China. MediaTek leads the 3G market in China and is well positioned to transition some of its 3G customers to 4G next year. Qualcomm knows that and has announced pending cost reductions for the low-end 4G market,” said Will Strauss, president and principal analyst of Forward Concepts. “We have seen real multimode LTE cellular modem shipments from companies like Huawei, Marvell, Nvidia and Samsung, while Intel is shipping in Samsung tablets. Real multimode FDD LTE modems are expected soon from MediaTek, Spreadtrum and ZTE. With Apple (employing Qualcomm) and Samsung cellphones capturing the bulk of the U.S. market, there’s little room for new competitors there.”

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