Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Foundry rankings; fab tool rebound?; printed electronics.


Market research
In the second quarter of 2019, TrendForce said that the top-5 foundry rankings remained identical with that of last year. But sixth to tenth place showed some changes. Who is up or down in what is a tough business climate?

Global fab equipment spending will rebound in 2020, growing 20% to $58.4 billion after dropping 19% to $48.4 billion in 2019, according to SEMI. However, the 2020 investment increase is a downward revision from the 27% growth forecast earlier this year, according to SEMI. “Despite the healthy gains forecast for 2020, fab spending will still fall $2 billion short of 2018 investments,” according to SEMI.


The downturn in the memory market continues to haunt the industry. “Memory prices continue to decline amid oversupply and weak near-term demand, and the demand recovery remains unclear amid trade war tensions. Still, memory scaling is slowing naturally, a headwind for bit growth and a natural limiter to long-term supply, which in turn should drive healthier long-term supply-demand dynamics,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst with KeyBanc Capital Markets, in a research note. “Supply has also consolidated, more so in DRAM than NAND, which should further support balanced supply as demand recovers. Over the midterm, datacenter spending will likely ramp back up after current digestion, while memory loading in PCs, smartphones, and other devices should support a moderate demand recovery in 2H.

“For NAND, we now predict 30% bit growth in 2019, up moderately from our prior estimate of up 27%, due to aggressive node transitions and the general expectation for 2H price stabilization,” Twigg said. “For DRAM, we predict 9% bit growth in 2019, in line with our prior estimate, but below most industry forecasts, as we expect price pressure and the trade war to remain headwinds through 2H.”


Robot orders in North America declined slightly in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year, according to the latest statistics released by the Robotic Industries Association (RIA). North American companies ordered a total of 7,876 robots valued at $423 million during the three months, a decline of 3.5% in units and 3.2% in dollars compared to the first quarter of 2018. The decline was driven by a decrease in orders from automotive component suppliers (-16%), plastics and rubber (-16%), electronics (-17%), and metals (-17%).

Fab tools and materials
Brewer Science has expanded its printed electronics program with plans to incorporate new service capabilities. The new services are categorized into three categories–printing, electronics and software. “Printed electronics is the latest arena in which we are applying our innovation leadership to greatly impact where technology is going and how it can benefit people from all walks of life,” said Dan Brewer, executive director of emerging technology at Brewer Science.

In a blog, Sean SK Kang, a director in the Semiconductor Products Group at Applied Materials, talked about some of the major events that took place at the recent 11th International Memory Workshop (IMW).

KLA has announced the appointment of Jeneanne Hanley to its board. A career automotive industry executive, Hanley was most recently senior vice president and president at E-Systems within Lear.

Soitec posted its results and disclosed its investment plans. The company is expecting that capital expenditures will reach approximately 130 million Euros in fiscal 2020.

Chipmakers and OEMs
An activist investor took a $1.5 billion stake in Sony. The firm also wants Sony to spin off its semiconductor business, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Cree updated its financial guidance for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019.

Mythic, a fabless developer of AI chips, has secured $30 million in Series B-1 funding. This brings the total Series B funding to $70 million. The funding round was led by Valor Equity Partners, with additional new investors Future Ventures, Atreides, Micron Ventures and Lam Research. Existing investors also participated.

Intel has announced plans to acquire Barefoot Networks, a supplier of Ethernet-based fabric technology.

Raytheon and United Technologies have entered into an agreement to combine in an all-stock merger of equals. The transaction will create a larger company in the aerospace/defense sector.

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