The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Falling ATE forecast; Intel in Israel; Applied-TEL deal; GF in Vermont.

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Is the sky falling on the ATE market? The ATE market is expected to hit $2.8 billion in 2014, up from $2.28 billion in 2013, according to Pacific Crest Securities. “Overall, we are now modeling overall semiconductor test demand to decline by 2% in 2015, a significant change from our previous estimate of up 10%,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities, in a report. “Teradyne has recently indicated that the semiconductor test market may not be as strong in 2015. We believe Intel is pulling test purchases into 2014 from 2015, TSMC test demand will drop in 2015, and outsourced assembly and test companies are limiting new test purchases. Demand could possibly improve in RF, analog, microcontroller, or memory markets to offset weaker test demand in processor markets, but we are taking a conservative view and are lowering our estimates.”

The Ministries of Economy and Finance in Israel approved a $6 billion investment project and awarded a $300 million government grant to Intel to upgrade its fab in Kiryat Gat. As part of the program, Intel will employ another 1,000 workers in the Israeli wafer fab. An additional 2,500 employees will be indirectly employed as a result of the plant upgrading.

What’s happening with AppliedTEL merger? “Approval of the Applied Materials-Tokyo Electron merger could slip into next year, and there is a small chance that China may deny the deal, in our view,” Twigg said in a separate report. ”We are concerned that one year after announcing its planned merger with Tokyo Electron, Applied Materials still faces merger approval in six countries (United States, China, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan). We are particularly concerned regarding China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). Of more than 700 deals reviewed by MOFCOM, we believe this is only the fifth deal that went through the initial 180-day period without a decision. More worrisome is that three relatively recent tech mergers reviewed by MOFCOM, Seagate/Samsung, WD/Hitachi and MediaTek/MStar, included hold-separate orders, forcing the companies to operate independently for a number of years before reconsideration; this type of decision could reduce or eliminate planned cost-synergies for AMAT-TEL.”

GlobalFoundries is setting up a recruitment center in Vermont, near IBM’s fab in the state, according to reports from the VTDigger.org Web site. GlobalFoundries is looking to fill 400 jobs within its fab in New York.

On Oct. 10, Advantest will hold a memorial gathering in honor of Haruo Matsuno, representative director and former president of the company, who passed away on Aug. 23, 2014.

RF Micro Devices and TriQuint Semiconductor revealed that the holding company under which the companies will combine in a merger of equals will be named Qorvo Inc. The name Qorvo is pronounced kor-vo.

SV Probe has completed its integration of the probe card business and assets of Tokyo Cathode Laboratory.

SiTime, a MEMS analog semiconductor company, announced that it has closed $25 million in new financing.

Dow Chemical will commence construction of the world’s first, large-scale, cadmium-free quantum dot manufacturing operation at the company’s Cheonan, South Korea site. The new facility will enable the manufacture of millions of quantum dot televisions and other display applications.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC) announced nine research awards to 10 universities totaling nearly $4 million under a joint program focused on Secure, Trustworthy, Assured and Resilient Semiconductors and Systems (STARSS).

The global cellular baseband processor market grew 17% year-on-year to reach $5.2 billion in Q2 2014, according to Strategy Analytics. According to the research firm, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Spreadtrum, Marvell and Intel grabbed the top-five baseband revenue share spots in Q2 2014. Qualcomm continued its baseband market dominance with 68% revenue share, followed by MediaTek with 15% revenue share and Spreadtrum with 5% revenue share.

Events
TSMC’s Open Innovation Platform Ecosystem Forum will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 30, at the San Jose Convention Center.

SEMI’s Strategic Materials Conference will take place from Tuesday, Sept. 30 to Wednesday, Oct. 1, in Santa Clara, Calif.