US DRAM company Micron Technology held its first ever European summit in
London, UK, on July 10.
Steve Appleton - chairman, CEO and president - pointed with pride to
Micron's US patent record in 2001, coming second only to IBM. In effect,
this makes Micron the No.1 in semiconductor patents, he argued, since many
of IBM's patents are not IC related. [The US Patent and Trademark Office
puts Micron (1643) at No.4 internationally, after IBM (3411), NEC (1953) and
Canon (1877). So, Micron is the No.2 company from the UNITED STATES. The
No.1 ranking for a semiconductor company still stands. Bulletin 415, January
STMicroelectronics has started volume deliveries of its ST19XT34 secure
microcontroller that can receive Universal Serial Bus (USB) certification
for use in smartcards and tokens.
The device integrates both USB and standard ISO 7816 interfaces. The USB
interface includes full clock recovery, eliminating the need for external
components such as clock crystals and pull-up resistors. The USB interface
can communicate at speeds greater than the traditional smartcard ISO 7816
ChipMOS Technologies (Bermuda) claims development of a new high-speed wafer
test technology for probe testing 32 in parallel DDR (double data rate)
DRAMs at 200MHz clock rates and 400Mbit/sec data rates. The development
project was financially supported by the Taiwanese government. The
technology was developed using Teradyne's Probe-One Memory Test System,
TEL's P12XL Prober, and FormFactor's BladeRunner technology area array probe
cards. ChipMOS now has a pilot line for 200mm and 300mm wafers in place.
The transaction should be
finalised within the next 60 days, subject to completion of certain
conditions. Upon completion of the transaction Amkor intends to repay all of
a $97m term loan under its secured bank credit agreement. A $100m revolver
agreement will remain in place. Dongbu has also agreed to buy 12m newly
issued shares of ASI. With these transactions, Amkor's ownership interest in
Anam Semiconductor will be reduced to approximately 22%.
Alcatel Optronics has sold its Netherlands operation in a Management Buy Out
(MBO). The non-telecom MEMS and planar design software operation was the
result of two start-ups bought by Kymata prior to its being acquired in its
turn by Alcatel Optronics. The new entity, called C2V, is independently
owned and financially supported by Greenfield Capital Partners, a Dutch
private equity firm. A C2V team will be dedicated to Alcatel Optronics for a
one and a half year period on a planar design R&D programme.
Gartner Dataquest is looking forward to growth in the wafer fab equipment
market with 5.3% growth year-on-year expected in Q3 with revenues reaching
$5.2bn. The whole year, however, will show a decline of 20% from $23.7bn in
2001 to $18.9bn this year. Semiconductor capital spending for 2002 is
expected to be $35.3bn, down 20.9% on 2001's $44.6bn. The foundry sector
will account for much of the increased spending this year. Lack of demand
and overcapacity are still slowing the market with spending focused on new
technology. Next year, capital spending is expected to reach $47.3bn, 34%
up. Equipment buying will be worth $26.9bn, up 42.1%.
Taiwan's two leading foundries report their June sales report. TSMC's sales
were TWD15.615bn, up 83.4% on June 2001. UMC also substantially improved on
2001 with TWD6.711bn in revenues, up 58.4%. Half year sales were up 21.5% at
TSMC (TWD79.972bn) and down 20.4% at UMC (TWD30.739bn).
Air Products and Chemicals Electronics Division's Schumacher unit is to
serve as global master distributor of three new liquid chemical vapour
deposition (CVD) precursors from Dow Corning (Z4MS, ZTOMCATS and Z2DM). The
new products are multifunctional silicon source liquids specifically
designed for thin film dielectric deposition processes for passivation, etch
stop, hard mask and copper diffusion barrier films. The new alliance builds
on an agreement between the companies under which Air Products serves as the
worldwide master distributor of Dow Corning's Z3MS CVD precursor
(trimethylsilane), which is used instead of silane or tetraethyl
orthosilicate-based CVD materials.
A bleak beginning to the Semicon West show in California was provided
courtesy of Intel's Q2 results. The company is to cut expenses by $2.1bn in
Q3 with 4000 people set to lose their jobs. Further, capital spending for
the year is to be reduced from $5.5bn to $5.1-5.2bn, The 2002 R&D budget
will be $100m less at $4.0bn from $4.1bn. Q3 revenues are expected to be
International SEMATECH (ISMT) and the State University of New York (SUNY)
University at Albany-SUNY (UAlbany) plan a joint five-year $320m programme
on next generation lithography. The letter of intent calls for negotiations
to start immediately on the formation of a strategic alliance - to be known
as International SEMATECH North (ISMTN) - to conduct R&D on advanced
lithography infrastructure for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) processes. The
programme would be managed by International SEMATECH and housed in UAlbany's
300mm wafer facility. A final agreement on the strategic alliance is hoped
for by the end of Q3 this year.
Philips Electronics is to sell its x-ray analytical business to UK-based
Spectris for a total amount of EUR150m. Completion of the transaction is
subject to customary consultation procedures with trade unions and works
councils and clearance by the competition authorities. The takeover is
expected to take place later this year. The business will be renamed
PANalytical as part of Spectris' Process Technology sector.
IBM has agreed to work with the packaging and assembly companies on its
latest Surface Laminar Circuit (SLC) flip chip substrate and packaging
development. Three companies apart from IBM are taking part - Amkor, ASAT
and ASE. These companies will be enabled to provide flip chip design and
assembly services. IBM will support their efforts with substrate design
along with electrical, mechanical and thermal modelling.
Wafer cleaning tool company SEZ Group has received an order worth CHF4.8m
for multiple spin-processors from a European 300mm consortium. The 304s will
be used for backside film removal and decontamination including bevel clean.
The tool orders are the first for SEZ from this fab. Delivery is scheduled
for the current business year.
Rambus has licensed its RaSer serial link technology to Intel for use in
Ethernet network applications. The Rambus RaSer 1-3.125Gbits/sec technology
includes hard macro physical layer interface cells that can be integrated in
ASIC or ASSP controller chips.
VLSI Research puts the global equipment market book-to-bill ratio at 1.24 in
June. Billings were at $2.56bn and bookings were at $3.17bn. May's
book-to-bill figure was 1.16 and the company is expecting 1.38 in July. For
IC sales, the market researchers have three-month average bookings at
$11.2bn and billings at $9.5bn for a ratio of 1.18. The July estimate is
1.50 ($14.5bn/$9.7bn). Front-end capacity utilisation is given as 83.0% in
May and 87.7%, with projections for 88.7% in July.
Infineon Technologies reports revenues of EUR1.4bn for the quarter ended
June 30, 2002. This represents a 10% increase on the previous year. Net
losses were EUR76m, an improvement on 2001's EUR371m. The company is
European silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafer producer Soitec is in the process
of accepting the complete tool set needed to produce 300mm wafers at its
Bernin II facility in France. The toolset includes ion-implantation,
bonding, chemical-mechanical planarization (CMP) and metrology tools. Twelve
production lines with a capacity of 1.2mn wafer starts per year are planned
for installation at the new facility. These will be used for the production
of 300mm and 200mm SOI wafers. Production in this new, state-of-the-art
facility is expected to commence before the end of the year, with the first
line due for qualification in November.
KVH Industries has signed an agreement with ABB's High Voltage business to
cooperate in the development of a new fibreoptic current sensor. The
agreement follows a series of joint research projects during which the
companies explored the feasibility of using fibreoptics to measure current
in high-voltage power lines. The new fibreoptic sensors have been designed
for more accurate energy metering and wider bandwidth and improved safety
over conventional technologies.
DuPont has signed a definitive agreement to acquire ChemFirst for $408mn.
ChemFirst supplies electronic chemicals and materials to the semiconductor
industry. The company has 480 employees and primary manufacturing facilities
in Mississippi, Texas, Ohio, California, Scotland and Japan.
The semiconductor fabrication materials businesses include EKC Technologies
and ChemFirst Electronic Materials. ChemFirst's electronic materials
business segments will become a part of DuPont Electronic Technologies in
the DuPont Electronic & Communication Technologies sector.
EV Group (EVG) has completed installation and qualification of its automated
EVG 850 SOI production wafer bonding system at Analog Devices' SOI
(silicon-on-insulator) fab in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Analog Devices is
expanding its SOI wafer production capacity to meet demand for thick film
SOI wafers. Applications of the substrates include MEMS and power devices.