The Week In Review: Manufacturing

$1B CapEx club; SSD wars; ARM laptops; flexible electronics.

popularity

Market research
IC Insights has released its capital spending forecast by company. In total, there are 15 companies that are forecast to have semiconductor capital expenditures of $1.0 billion or more in 2017, up from 11 in 2016, according to IC Insights.

Four companies—Intel, Samsung, GlobalFoundries, and SK Hynix—are expected to represent the bulk of the increase in spending, according to IC Insights. Samsung is forecast to spend $3.2 billion more in capital outlays this year than in 2016, Intel $2.375 billion more, GlobalFoundries $865 million more, and SK Hynix an additional $812 million.

TSMC, SMIC and UMC are also on the list. Other companies expected to be added to the ranking this year include Infineon, Nanya, Renesas and STMicroelectronics.

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The NAND flash market remained in an undersupply mode in the first quarter of 2017, according to DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce. “Despite seasonality, the average contract price of NAND flash chips in the channel market actually surged by 20% to 25% in the first quarter compared with last year’s fourth quarter,” according to the firm.

Global shipments of enterprise-grade SSDs grew about 3% to 4% in the first quarter of 2017, according to DRAMeXchange. Intel is still the leader in enterprise-based SSDs, followed by Samsung and Western Digital. “Intel, while being the leader enterprise storage solutions, has been feeling the pressure from Samsung. Before the first quarter of 2017, Intel had fallen behind in its development of 3D-NAND SSDs,” according to the firm. “To attract customers, Intel not only lowered prices but also emphasized that its SSDs complement its server processors. After persevering into the first quarter of this year, Intel was able to ship its 3D-NAND products in greater volumes. The company’s global market share in enterprise-grade SSD segment therefore returned to above 40% for the first quarter.”

Chipmakers
Perhaps Toshiba won’t sell its prized NAND flash unit after all. “Toshiba has apparently reversed its decision to spin its memory JV assets into a new subsidiary that was done in early April 2017 to facilitate a sale and is rolling the JV back into Toshiba,” according to Amit Daryanani, an analyst with RBC. The analyst cited the Financial Times as its source.

At Computex, Qualcomm has announced that Asus, HP and Lenovo will develop mobile PCs based on its Snapdragon 835 chip and Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system. The ARM-based 10nm chip is built on a foundry basis by Samsung.

Cypress Semiconductor’s proxy war with its former chief executive, T.J. Rodgers, continues. Cypress has sent a letter to stockholders urging them to vote for the company’s director nominees. Cypress also filed supplemental proxy materials in response to certain “misleading allegations” made by Rodgers. Meanwhile, Rodgers is pushing for new board members, among other changes.

Manufacturing
FlexTech and the Canadian Printable Electronics Industry Association have signed a memorandum of understanding to support each other’s programs and drive the continued development and adoption of printable, flexible hybrid, and wearable electronics. FlexTech is a SEMI Strategic Association Partner.

NextFlex has released Project Call 3.0 (PC 3.0)—the latest call for proposals to fund projects that seek to further the development and adoption of flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) technology. For PC 3.0, the total project value is expected to exceed $14 million. PC 3.0 has two key goals: a) develop FHE system components that subsequent projects can use to quickly develop project concepts and FHE demonstrators; and b) develop and share methods to address key gaps in the manufacturing process. In addition, data collected from these efforts will aid in creating the process design kit essential for FHE system design and modeling.