Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Auto/IoT chips; Toshiba/NuFlare vs Hoya; tool upturn.


Fab tools and materials
In a blog, David Haynes, managing director of strategic marketing at Lam Research, talks about the IoT and automotive chip markets, which are fabricated at a wide range of technology nodes.

Hoya recently made an unsolicited $1.4 billion bid to acquire NuFlare, a supplier of e-beam mask writers and other equipment. Click here for more information. Hoya makes several products, including mask blanks for optical and EUV lithography. Meanwhile, Toshiba, which owns a controlling interest in NuFlare, this week said it isn’t budging, according to a report from Reuters. Toshiba doesn’t plan to sell its interest in NuFlare to Hoya.

As reported, ASML is gearing up for high-NA EUV. It won’t be cheap. “ASML has presold four high-NA systems to three customers (for 2021/2022 delivery) with options for eight more. The price of each machine is €270M, well above the cost of traditional EUV systems (3400C is ~ €130M and the 3400B is ~€100M). ASML has stated previously that it expects high volume production of the high-NA systems in 2024,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst at KeyBanc, in a report. In other words, a high-NA tool is nearly $300 million per system, compared to $144 million for today’s EUV system.

Yield management startup proteanTecs has announced the expansion of its advisory board. The new members, David (Dadi) Perlmutter and Amir Faintuch, join J.W. McPherson, whom the company announced earlier this year.

HC Holdings, a subsidiary of Showa Denko, has moved to acquire Hitachi Chemical.

Chipmakers and OEMs
Xperi and TiVo have entered into a definitive agreement to merge. Following the completion of the transaction, Xperi Chief Executive Jon Kirchner will serve as CEO of the new parent company. TiVo’s Chief Executive, David Shull , will continue as a strategic advisor to ensure a successful integration.

Intel has acquired Habana Labs, a developer of programmable deep learning accelerators for the data center for $2 billion.

Arbe, a provider of 4D imaging radar chipsets, has announced the closing of $32 million in Round B funding.

Market research
Projected 2019 global fab equipment spending has been revised upward to $56.6 billion, according to SEMI. SEMI now points to a 7% decline in fab equipment investments from 2018 to 2019, an improvement on the previously forecast drop of 18%.

North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted $2.12 billion in billings worldwide in November 2019, according to SEMI. The billings figure is 1.9% higher than the final October 2019 level of $2.08 billion, and is 9.1% higher than the November 2018 billings level of $1.94 billion. “Monthly billings of North American equipment manufacturers increased month-over-month for the second consecutive month,” said Ajit Manocha, president and CEO of SEMI. “This improvement in equipment billings meets industry expectations for a stronger close to 2019.”


After a downturn in 2019, the wafer fab equipment (WFE) market is ready to rebound. “We are raising our 2020 total WFE forecast to $50.5 billion or +6% year-over-year that is driven largely by improving NAND WFE spend, steady foundry and logic WFE off a strong 2019, and muted DRAM WFE spending,” said Krish Sankar, an analyst with Cowen and Co., in a research note. “The higher 2020 WFE level is also partially due to our upward revised estimate for 2019 WFE of $47.5 billion, -10% year-over-year, primarily from the strength in 2H19 foundry spending.”

Sankar projects that memory WFE will reach $20.5 billion, up 17% over 2019. The growth is driven by a 28% increase in NAND WFE and a 6% increase in DRAM WFE, according to Sankar.


Micron reported its quarterly results. “Overall numbers were close to estimates. Guidance for FQ2 (Dec-Feb) were lower revenue and earnings due to seasonality,” said Mark Webb, principal at MKW Ventures, in a research note. “Micron floated some interesting number on the future of memory industry. DRAM Bit growth will be 15% in 2020, vs 20% in 2019. NAND Bit growth will be 30% in 2020 vs 40% in 2019.”

The <20% and 30% growth for DRAM and NAND, respectively, will be the future CAGR, according to Webb. "These numbers are lower than historical but are becoming consistent from each supplier. Micron also states that DRAM bits per server will grow 20% per year," Webb said.

Check out upcoming industry events and conferences: Next year, DesignCon will take place January 28-30 in Santa Clara, CA, with a focus on board and high-speed communications design. Plus, DAC submissions for the Designer and IP Track are open through Jan. 22, 2020; the conference will be co-located with SEMICon West July 19-23, 2020 in San Francisco, CA.

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