Week In Review: Manufacturing, Design, Test

PCs disrupt family time; defending finFETs; bad week for Intel; fab tool forecasts; ATE rebounds.

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A new study from Crucial.com reveals that on some days, 64% of U.S. parents spend more time with their computers than with family or close friends.

TSMC posted mixed results in the fourth quarter of 2013. It also announced flat CapEx targets for 2014. TSMC also addressed Intel’s recent comments about TSMC’s finFET plans. Morris Chang, chairman of TSMC, said Intel’s comments are misleading.

Bad week for Intel. On Wednesday, Intel delayed the opening of a new fab in Arizona. The Fab 42 facility was supposed to move into production in late 2013, according to Reuters. Then, on Thursday, it posted lackluster results. Then, on Friday, Intel cut 5% of its headcount.

The worldwide smartphone market continues to slow. Analysts John Vinh and Kevin Chen from Pacific Crest Securities said: “We expect the second inventory correction in a row for the Samsung supply chain. With Samsung continuing to struggle to meet its targets in high-end smartphones, we believe component suppliers had yet another inventory correction in Q4. Additionally, our sell-through checks indicate aggressive holiday promotions resulted in only marginal improvements in channel inventory, which we believe remains too high. Q4 is likely as good as it gets for the Apple supply chain, as smartphone saturation is still the issue. While our carrier checks have indicated slightly better sell-through of the iPhone in Q4, we anticipate a meaningful correction in Q1 of ~30%+ q/q for component suppliers. Additionally, we believe the China Mobile ramp could actually exacerbate the correction in Q1.”

The fab tool market is ready to rebound, but the industry is also at a critical juncture.

Analysts painted a mixed picture about the market at the SEMI Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS).

The market for semiconductor packaging materials, including thermal interface materials, is expected to maintain its $20 billion value through 2017, despite shifts away from the use of precious metals such as gold in wire bonding, according to a new study by SEMI and TechSearch International.

SEMI announced that two teamsfrom the University of Florida and Xilinx are recipients of the 2013 SEMI Award for North America. The development team at Xilinx was recognized for their commercialization of the silicon interposer and the University of Florida team was recognized for developing a cornerstone of the modern era of computational modeling of CMOS fabrication process with the Florida Object-Oriented Process Simulator, FLOOPS.

Weston Twigg, an analyst with Pacific Crest, has upgraded his outlook for Teradyne. “Abysmal demand for semiconductor, wireless and HDD test equipment in 2013 should begin to improve in 2014, potentially supporting upward estimate revisions. We believe semiconductor test utilization is beginning to improve, and that Apple’s processor ramp at TSMC could drive additional test demand. Just as importantly, wireless test demand should improve as Apple and others expand 802.11ac adoption and as Teradyne wins more cellular test business. With Seagate’s acquisition of HDD test competitor Xyratex, Teradyne should also benefit from expanded 3.5″ test sales to Western Digital. We currently model 17% growth in Teradyne’s semiconductor test business, 61% growth in HDD test and 33% growth in wireless test, and we see more likelihood for upward rather than downward revisions throughout the year.”

Advantest announced that Denso has selected its T2000 Integrated Power Device Test Solution (IPS) for automotive device evaluation and production testing. Denso will use the IPS to evaluate and manufacture control, power-train and sensor devices for automobiles.

CyberOptics has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the assets of Laser Design Inc. (LDI), a 3D metrology company headquartered in Minneapolis.

Tessera Technologies is restructuring its DigitalOptics (DOC) business to cease its remaining manufacturing operations and refocus efforts on monetizing DOC technologies, including solutions for imaging and MEMS technologies.

SuVolta announced that it has secured $10.6 million in funding. New investor Fujitsu Semiconductor participated in the round along with existing investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), August Capital, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Northgate Capital and DAG Ventures.

Exar announced that it has acquired Stretch, a provider of software configurable processors supporting the video surveillance market.

Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC) has launched a new initiative on Trustworthy and Secure Semiconductors and Systems (T3S). The goal of T3S is to develop strategies and tools for the design and manufacture of chips and systems that are reliable, trustworthy and secure.