Week In Review: Manufacturing, Design, Test

Chip CEO allegedly assaults reality star; Canon buys imprint firm; Applied’s results; Gary Dickerson is upbeat.

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Prosecutors have charged the CEO of chipmaker Entropic Communications with assaulting a model who appeared on the reality television show “Beverly Hills Nannies,” according to the L.A. Times.

Molecular Imprints Inc. (MII) has signed an agreement to sell its semiconductor imprint lithography equipment business to Canon. The agreement also allows for the creation of a new company that will keep its original “Molecular Imprints” name. It will devise imprint tools for nanoscale patterning in consumer electronics and biomedical applications.

Cisco reported a charge of $655 million related to a failure from memory products from a single supplier from 2005 to 2010. “Based on our discussion with the company, we believe that this is likely Micron. Cisco’s quality problems stem from Micron’s legacy 95nm DRAM built between ’05 to ’10. While we do not expect Micron to incur material charges, the quality issues encountered by a vendor of Cisco’s size underscores the importance of garnering high-quality bits in the memory marketplace. Micron is increasingly committed to improving quality across its roadmap,” said Doug Freedman, an analyst with RBC, in a research note.

In its results, Applied Materials generated orders of $2.29 billion, up 9% from the prior quarter led by demand for Silicon Systems Group products. Net sales were $2.19 billion, up 10% sequentially.

On a conference call, Applied discussed several things. On the Seeking Alpha Web site, Gary Dickerson, president and CEO of Applied, was upbeat and said: “Turning to our market outlook, we believe 2013 wafer fab equipment spending ended the year towards the midpoint of our range of $27 billion to $30 billion. We expect investment levels to be stronger in 2014, up 10% to 20% driven by higher spending in foundry and memory. The foundries remained the biggest component of wafer fab equipment.”

Applied Materials believes that total NAND spending will be about $7 billion in 2014, with incremental spending in advanced planar NAND and initial investment in 3D. “We believe this NAND spending number is slightly below current sell-side expectations, where we see most CapEx dollars supporting node migrations,” said RBC’s Freedman. “Again, we see signs that 3D ramp is pushed-out. We maintain our view that initial bits will service only a small portion of the market. (We) see steep learning curves associated with the ramp of 3D given the many technical challenges (multi-stack patterning, metrology, defect monitoring, cell optimization, etc.).”

Worldwide silicon wafer revenues declined by 13% in 2013 compared to 2012, according to SEMI. Worldwide silicon wafer area shipments increased 0.4% in 2013 when compared to 2012 area shipments.

Shares of TowerJazz rose on a report that it will set up a fab in India.

Microchip has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Supertex for about $394 million.

M/A-COM Technology Solutions, a supplier of high-performance analog, RF, microwave and millimeter wave products, has acquired Nitronex, a developer in the design and manufacture of gallium nitride (GaN) based RF solutions.

SunEdison will indefinitely close its shuttered polysilicon manufacturing facility in Merano, Italy. The indefinite closure will affect approximately 200 employees. The associated electronic grade TCS (trichlorosilane) operation, which employs approximately 35 people, will be closed over the next 12 months. SunEdison will also commence a plan to consolidate its semiconductor crystal operations. The consolidation will include the transitioning of small diameter crystal activities in its St. Peters, Missouri facility to its other crystal facilities in Korea, Taiwan and Italy. The crystal manufacturing consolidation will affect approximately 100 employees in St. Peters and will be implemented over the next 12 months.