The Week In Review: Manufacturing

CapEx forecast; 3D NAND delays; mask hot spots; paper RAMs.

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Worldwide semiconductor capital equipment spending is projected to total $37.5 billion in 2014, an increase of 12.2% from 2013 spending of $33.5 billion, according to Gartner. Capital spending will increase 5.5% in 2014 as the industry begins to recover from the recent economic downturn.

The 3D NAND market will take longer to develop. Samsung has shipped a 3D NAND device. Micron and SK Hynix have pushed out its respective 3D NAND chip schedules. “Specific to 3D NAND the timing of second generation device ramps appears now more likely to extend into early 2015 for some. As a result we now estimate that the cumulative amount of 3D NAND shipped capacity exiting 2014 to be at the bottom end of our prior range of 80,000 to 100,000 wafer starts per month. This shift has not impacted our outlook for 2014 NAND supply bid growth which remains essentially in the lower 40% range,” said Martin Anstice, president and chief executive of Lam, during a conference call on the Seeking Alpha Web site.

In a video, Mark Sheppard of Advantest talks about the company’s new CD-SEM. He also talks about mask hot spots and other issues.

Advantest posted its results. Memory testers saw strong demand, while logic test gear was somewhat slow. 2014 is expected to be a strong year for ATE.

North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted a book-to-bill ratio of 1.06 in March, compared to 1.01 in February, according to SEMI. A book-to-bill of 1.06 means that $106 worth of orders were received for every $100 of product billed for the month.

Here’s an advance look at some of the papers to be presented at the 2014 Symposia on VLSI Technology & Circuits, which will be held in Hawaii on June 9-12, 2014 (Technology Symposium) and June 10-13, 2014 (Circuits Symposium). One of the presentations involves paper RAMs.

Doug Freedman, an analyst with RBC, sheds some light on Altera’s 14nm FPGA foundry deal with Intel. “Production on Intel’s 14nm finFET appears for tape-out in late-2014 with revenue ramp in 2015, which is slated to double the high-end FPGA performance with its Stratix 10. Regarding its broader generation 10 portfolio, Altera will utilize 14nm finFET for high-end, 20nm (TSMC) Arria 10 for mid-range, and 55nm (TSMC) MAX 10 for CPLD/low-end. While we think Altera is well positioned for share gains given the Intel relationship, we believe it’s too early for the market to reward Altera,” Freedman said.

Fujitsu, Panasonic and the Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) have signed a memorandum of understanding in which DBJ will make an investment and provide a line of credit for a new fabless company specializing in system LSI design and development which Fujitsu and Panasonic will jointly establish.

Kulicke & Soffa Industries is in the news and for the wrong reasons. Lemelson Capital Management, a private investment manager, announced that it has taken a significant equity position in K&S. Lemelson Capital’s acquisition reflects the firm’s view that shares of the company remain dramatically undervalued. Lemelson Capital also announced that it is urging K&S to initiate a share repurchase plan and has delivered the following letter to the company’s management team, board of directors and other stakeholders.

Epistar and Intermolecular have signed a multi-year extension of their existing collaborative development program and royalty-bearing IP licensing agreement to increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of Epistar’s LED devices.

Driven by favorable government policies, funding and world-leading academic research, China has become the global leader in graphene and carbon nanotube (CNT) publication and patenting activity. Commercially, it has attained parity with international counterparts in CNT production, though its graphene suppliers lag global competition, according to Lux Research.

Since 2006, LCD TV has accounted for the largest share of flat panel display (FPD) revenues; however, in 2014, mobile displays will take the lead, according to NPD DisplaySearch. FPD revenues from mobile PCs and mobile phones will have a 42% share of total global FPD revenues in 2014, for the first time surpassing LCD TV with a 37% share.

New solar photovoltaic (PV) demand added during Q1 2014 exceeded 9 GW, which was 35% more than the previous first-quarter record, set last year. In fact, every quarter in 2014 is forecast to reach new highs, with trailing 12-month demand at the end of Q1 2015 forecast to exceed 50 GW for the first time, according to NPD Solarbuzz.