The Week In Review: Manufacturing

IBM-GF deal; Blue Buffett; Lam’s bullish outlook; EUV sources.

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After months of on-again, off-again negotiations, IBM agreed to hand over its Microelectronics unit to GlobalFoundries for $1.5 billion—meaning IBM will actually pay GlobalFoundries that amount to get rid of what has become an albatross for Big Blue.

Analyst Jim McGregor said it is only a matter of time before GlobalFoundries shuts down IBM’s fabs, according to the Albany Business Review.

Warren Buffett reportedly lost $2 billion over two days, due in part to plummeting shares of Coca-Cola and IBM, according to reports. Buffett lost $1.3 billion when IBM stocks took a hit. This was after Big Blue paid $1.5 billion to GlobalFoundries to take its chip unit. Berkshire Hathaway owns more than 70 million shares of IBM. Still, Forbes estimates Buffett’s net worth is around $64 billion.

Lam Research announced its financial results for the quarter ended Sept. 28, 2014. Revenue for the September 2014 quarter was $1.152 billion, and net income was $141.1 million, or $0.80 per diluted share on a GAAP basis.

In a conference call, Martin Anstice, president and chief executive of Lam, predicted that the wafer fab equipment (WFE) market would grow from 5% to 10% in 2015.

In a report on Lam, Weston Twigg, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities, said: “We are very comfortable with Lam’s market-share opportunities and execution, but we have moderate concerns about SAM expansion in 2015. Two important drivers for SAM expansion are the foundry finFET and 3D NAND ramps. Foundry finFET may ramp slower than expected if yield issues persist; 3D NAND capacity plans are largely on hold, in our view, and even Lam admitted that volume capacity is likely more of a 2016 event. DRAM equipment demand should remain very strong in 2015 and lends revenue support. Overall, we project industry demand to grow 4% in 2015, compared to Lam’s expectation of 5% to 10%.”

Ultratech posted its results for the quarter. In a statement, Arthur Zafiropoulo, chairman and chief executive of the company, said: “As a predominantly logic-focused company, we work with customers that manufacture microprocessor devices that primarily serve the mobile market. During the third quarter we saw unexpected push-outs in the laser annealing area related to the industry’s difficulties with achieving acceptable yields in finFET devices, which led in part to our lower than expected financial results.”

North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted a book-to-bill ratio of 0.94 in September, compared to 1.04 in August, according to SEMI.

Gigaphoton has succeeded in achieving a 3-hour continuous operation of its prototype LPP EUV light source at 50% duty cycle and a 42-Watt output, equivalent to usage in a high-volume-manufacturing environment.

Adlyte, a developer of high-brightness extreme light sources for advanced semiconductor inspection and metrology applications, has reached a performance benchmark for its EUV light source for high-volume manufacturing. Adlyte has demonstrated that its EUV light source has maintained a clean operation after intermediate focus while running for hundreds of hours replicating multiple parameters for a production environment—including power, brightness and uptime—established by mask inspection vendors.

Amtech will acquire all the outstanding stock of BTU in an all-stock transaction.

Self-driving and autonomous vehicles, in particular, are much closer to reality than most people and businesses realize, according to Gartner. Over the next six years, self-aware vehicles will emerge first that are increasingly also able to autonomously sense, interpret, decide, act and communicate with other automobiles, infrastructures, businesses, people and organizations.