By Mark LaPedus
For years, the DRAM industry has been engulfed in a downturn. Sadly, vendors have grown accustom to overcapacity, falling ASPs and losses. Now, the tide is turning, at least based on the data from Micron Technology. Micron posted a loss this week, but the company provided some surprising and welcomed news about DRAMs. “Despite a weak PC environment and more DRAM capacity from the revised Inotera agreement, Micron is allocating DRAM to some channel and OEM customers. DRAM capacity continues to go offline or transition to NAND, and Micron envisions no new capacity coming online in either 2013 or 2014. This suggests to us that the recent ASP dynamic is here to stay,” said Hans Mosesmann, an analyst with Raymond James. Another chip analyst, Jagadish Iyer of Piper Jaffray, said: “Micron articulated that DRAM capacity likely remains constrained for the next two years as near-term allocation prevails.”
What about NAND flash? “We expect industry supply to be far more rational than years past. Expect NAND ASP trends to strengthen through 2Q ‘13 with handset ramps pending,” said Doug Freedman, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets. Added Monika Garg, an analyst with Pacific Crest: “During our meetings with semiconductor capital equipment companies last month, all companies highlighted that they have not yet received any NAND capacity orders. These comments lend conviction that we should see strong NAND supply-demand balance in 2013.”
Richard Hill, the former chairman and CEO of Novellus, is back in the news. Hill, an outspoken executive who left Novellus after it was acquired by Lam, is leading a committee of independent directors for troubled Tessera. The committee is refocusing Tessera’s DigitalOptics unit. This follows a move by an investment firm to oust Tessera’s CEO and the board. This week, the board began a search for a new chief executive to replace Robert A. Young, who was ousted. And Hill is the new chairman.
The Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency has approved about $387 million in sales tax exemptions for GlobalFoundries, according to the Saratogian. The tax breaks are for an R&D center and a proposed fab in New York.
In a blog, an investment site discusses its price estimates for Applied Materials. It also gives a fair and balanced analysis of the company.
RF Micro Devices will phase out manufacturing in its Newton Aycliffe, U.K.-based GaAs pHEMT facility and transition most GaAs manufacturing to its GaAs HBT manufacturing facility in Greensboro, N.C. RFMD will also partner with leading GaAs foundries for additional capacity. The U.K.-based GaAs pHEMT facility had been RFMD’s primary source for cellular switches. However, RFMD has transitioned to higher-performance, lower-cost silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology for the cellular switch.
North American-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted a book-to-bill ratio of 1.10 in February, according to SEMI. This compares to a ratio of 1.11 in January.
SEMI has released the 4th edition of the International Technology Roadmap for PV (ITRPV), the global collaborative process that informs PV cell, module and system manufacturers, equipment and materials suppliers, and other industry stakeholders on key technology trends in the solar field.
Mentor Graphics and Mercedes-Benz Trucks announced the application of the Mentor Capital software suite to the development of Daimler’s flagship heavy truck, the new Actros.
TEL’s Q3 orders were up 27%, above the firm’s original guidance of “slightly up,” according to Chips and Dips, a blog site.
Golden Gate Capital, a venture capital firm, recently sold its e-beam company, Vistec, to two different companies. In one transaction, Raith recently acquired Vistec’s Gaussian e-beam unit, called Vistec Lithography. Vistec Lithography continues to specialize in conventional direct-write applications in the aerospace and military arena. In a separate move, the Heidenhain Group recently acquired Vistec’s variable shaped beam (VSB) e-beam unit. That operation, Vistec Electron Beam, sells a single-beam e-beam tool based on VSB technology.
Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 smartphone is causing a buzz. In a blog DisplaySearch answered a pressing question: How Did Samsung achieve full HD in the AMOLED display?
Spansion and XMC, a Chinese foundry, announced an expanded partnership to develop and manufacture Spansion’s 32nm NOR flash memory. The agreement expands XMC’s current 300mm manufacturing of Spansion’s 65nm and 45nm flash memory technology.
VLSI Research is raising its 2013 fab tool growth forecast to minus 4.6%. Previously, the 2013 forecast was minus 5.3%. “Memory suppliers are beginning to loosen their purse strings. The orders are technology buys. Capacity expansions are not in the radar. Foundry is cooling due to the pull back by Apple along with some inventory buildups,” according to the firm.
Global PC shipments were expected to decline by 7.7% in the first quarter, according to IDC. However, IDC’s February monthly data suggest that the market could see a drop touching double-digits in the first quarter, according to the firm.
A predicted surge of smaller, lower-priced devices in the tablet market has led IDC to increase its 2013 forecast for the worldwide tablet market to 190.9 million, up from its previous forecast of 172.4 million units.
Samsung catapulted to the top of the optoelectronics supplier ranking in 2012 from 12th place in 2011 after it gained full ownership of Samsung LED, a 50-50 joint venture in light-emitting diodes that was created in 2009 between Samsung Electronics and affiliate Samsung Electro-Mechanics, according to IC Insights.