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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

CapEx outlook; metrology merger; 128-layer 3D NAND.

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Market research
What’s the CapEx outlook for 2020? Semiconductor capital spending is down in 2019, but the industry faces another slump in 2020, according to IC Insights. The firm sees a 15% decline in CapEx for 2019 with a 5% drop expected in 2020.

New 300mm fab construction in Korea is still going strong despite the memory downturn, according to SEMI. “Korea’s fab construction spending in 2019 and 2020 is expected to account for 27% of the total market, the highest proportion of all regions,” said Sungho Yoon, senior research manager at SEMI. “Samsung’s new fabs such as Pyeongtaek P2 Fab and the Hwaseong EUV Line and Xian Line 2 under construction in Korea and China are driving this investment. SK Hynix celebrated the completion of Wuxi C2F in China on April 18 and is now building a new Icheon M16 Fab in Korea.”

Nikon jumped from the world’s third to the top supplier of display equipment in terms of revenues in the first quarter, according to DSCC. This was due to its lithography tools, which are the most expensive tools in TFT backplane fabs, according to the firm.

Yole Développement has released its rankings for the largest OSATs in terms of sales in 2018. ASE was first, followed by Amkor and JCET.

Fab tools and materials
Rudolph Technologies has signed a deal to acquire Nanometrics, a move that creates a large player in the metrology and inspection market. Rudolph Chief Executive Michael Plisinski will serve as CEO of the combined company. The combined company will be headquartered in Wilmington, Mass.

The deal was anticipated by many. “Combined, the company should be around the 14th largest semiconductor equipment company by revenue, and it will benefit from expanded engineering and R&D resources,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst with KeyBanc, in a research note.

There is little or no product overlap between the two companies. “The merger should create a significantly more competitive combined entity, providing advantages of scale,” Twigg said. “NANO’s focus on wafer fab process and RTEC’s position in bare wafer manufacturing and advanced packaging allows the combined company to reach more customers on the front-end and back-end, while reducing potential over-exposure to any one market such as memory (RTEC has no >10% customers). The deal is expected to roughly double each company’s respective SAM, to ~$3B combined, which spans across five end markets and 150 customers.”

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Analog Devices (ADI) presented 18 awards to its suppliers, such as fab equipment, foundry and packaging houses, for outstanding performance and contributions. Who are the winners?

SEMI has announced an R&D project with Cornell University. Under an agreement with SEMI, Cornell University will optimize and accelerate two critical process steps – lithography and plasma etch. Supported through SEMI’s R&D program with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, the project aims to help accelerate the adoption of data-driven AI methodologies to streamline microelectronics operations.

BASF plans to reduce a total of around 6,000 positions worldwide until the end of 2021. As a result, the company expects savings of €300 million.

Chipmakers
Amid the ongoing memory downturn, 3D NAND suppliers continue to race each other to the next technology generations with several challenges and a possible shakeout ahead. SK Hynix claims it has developed and started mass production of the world’s first 128-layer 3D NAND device, beating Intel, Micron, Samsung and Toshiba to the punch. Hynix’ 128-layer 1-Tb NAND chip has more than 360 billion NAND cells, each of which stores 3 bits per one chip. SK Hynix is also developing a next-generation 176-layer 3D NAND device.

CNEX Labs, a developer of solid state drive (SSD) controllers, announced that a federal jury has found that Huawei misappropriated CNEX’s trade secrets.

Bunsei Kure has resigned as president and chief executive of Renesas. Hidetoshi Shibata has been named the new president and CEO, effective July 1. In 2013, Shibata joined Renesas as executive vice president, member of the board and chief financial officer. “We evaluated Mr. Shibata highly for his experience in leading structural reforms, which will enable him to leverage the lessons learned to take effective measures quickly in order to break away from the current unfavorable business performance and stock price stagnation,” according to a statement from Renesas.



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