Week In Review: Manufacturing And Design

Wearable computing; TowerJazz buys fabs; TSMC’s plans; Applied-TEL talk; not enough parking.

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Wearable computing is one of the hottest topics being discussed today. Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner, said digital health and fitness will be among the hottest segments in the arena.

Don’t look now, but ASML Holding has delayed its 450mm tool programs. “As for 450, ASML has paused the development of 450mm lithography systems, both EUV and 193, until customer demand and the timing related to such demand is clear. Once clear, we’re of course ready to accelerate development and continue with the sufficient progress already made so that systems will be available when the industry requires them,” according to a spokesman for ASML.

TowerJazz has announced with Panasonic the signing of a definitive agreement to create a joint venture. Within the scope of the venture, Panasonic will transfer three fabs to TowerJazz.

TSMC is seeing a slowdown in the mobile space, but it also has no plans to back away from its aggressive CapEx targets, according to Pacific Crest Securities. Here’s what the firm says about TSMC: “Consistent with our findings at downstream component suppliers, supply-chain conversations indicate that the ongoing inventory correction at Taiwan Semiconductor’s mobile customers is expected to extend into Q1, with 28nm utilization rates expected to remain depressed at 60%, despite annual fab maintenance next quarter. Despite weak wafer demand forecasts for Q1, we still believe 300mm equipment installations are planned to grow approximately 20% year over year at TSMC in 2014, with the foundry expecting to have Phase 5 of Fab 14 fully equipped by the end of 2Q14. Given this trajectory of planned equipment installations, we expect TSMC’s capital spending plan for 2014 to be $11 billion or greater versus a range of $9.5 to $10 billion this year.”

In a recent filing, Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TEL) provided a transcript of a recent roundtable about their planned merger.

On Dec. 12, Applied Materials received a request for additional information from the U.S. Department of Justice with respect to the previously announced proposed transaction between Applied and TEL, according to a filing.

Soitec and CEA-Leti have renewed their longstanding partnership for the next five years. This new contract aims to support Soitec’s strategy for the electronics, solar energy and lighting markets. It will focus on engineered substrates and materials.

To accommodate employees and construction contractors at its new fab site in New York, GlobalFoundries needs 1,000 extra parking spaces, according to the Albany Business Review. The planning board for the town of Malta is set to approve the gravel lot.

SEMI urged Congress to support efforts to revitalize America’s manufacturing sector. SEMI vice president of Global Advocacy Jonathan Davis provided testimony before the Subcommittee on Research and Technology of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted $1.24 billion in orders worldwide in November 2013 and a book-to-bill ratio of 1.11, according to SEMI.

It’s the end of an era. Avago will acquire LSI for $11.15 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $6.6 billion. LSI, formerly LSI Logic, was a pioneer in the ASIC and other businesses.

Mindspeed Technologies has signed a definitive agreement to sell the assets of its wireless infrastructure business unit to Intel.

Integrated Device Technology announced the appointment of Greg Waters as president, CEO and board member, effective Jan. 6, 2014. Jeff McCreary, who served as interim CEO since August 2013, will remain a member of the IDT board of directors.

Computer servers have been the workhorses of the Internet and data networks for two decades. Price erosion and the weak global economy have lowered server sales volumes in the past two years, but this computer market is expected to see a modest rebound in 2014 with worldwide revenues rising about 3% to $54.6 billion, followed by stronger growth in 2015 and 2016, according to IC Insights.