By Mark LaPedus
The auction of ProMOS‘ 300mm fab ended in failure this week. There were no bidders for the Taiwan DRAM fab, as the price was considered too steep, according to reports. The bidding for the fab will re-open next month. At one time, GlobalFoundries, TSMC and UMC were interested in the fabrication facility. Now, Taiwan foundry vendor Vanguard is the leading contender for the facility.
GlobalFoundries is embarking on a long-term strategic initiative, called “Vision 2015,”which will include the expansion of its Singapore-based 300mm fab for advanced mixed-signal processes. However, the company reduced the site workforce by approximately 300 employees, or about 4% percent of its Singapore employee base, due to the softening of the current macro-economic environment.
The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) has elected GlobalFoundries CEO Ajit Manocha as its 2013 chairman and John Kelly III, IBM senior vice president and director of IBM Research, as its 2013 vice chairman.
Applied Materials plans to combine two business units, Energy and Environmental Solutions (EES) and Display, under one leader. Ali Salehpour, a former senior vice president at KLA-Tencor, will join Applied as group vice president and general manager of the EES and Display groups. As part of the changes, Mark Pinto, executive vice president and general manager of EES, and Tom Edman, group vice president and general manager of Display, announced their intention to leave Applied.
For the quarter, Mentor Graphics reported revenue of $268.8 million, non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.32, and GAAP earnings per share of $0.27. “Revenue and earnings were records for Q3. Mentor and the electronic design automation industry continue to benefit from the semiconductor industry’s transition to the next generations of technology,” said Walden Rhines, chairman and CEO of Mentor Graphics.
The Collaborative Alliance for Semiconductor Test (CAST), a SEMI special interest group, has elected new leadership. Elected by CAST was Chris Portelli Hale, manufacturing test director at STMicroelectronics, as CAST chair, and Octavio Martínez, senior director of engineering at Qualcomm, as vice chair.
Tokyo Electron Limited (TEL) has cancelled its joint solar venture contract with Sharp and dissolved the joint venture Tokyo Electron PV Ltd. set up by both companies. In February 2008, TEL and Sharp embarked on the development of plasma CVD systems for use in thin-film silicon solar photovoltaic cells. At present, Sharp appears to be in financial trouble. Meanwhile, TEL has also been on an acquisition spree. In March, TEL announced the acquisition of Oerlikon Solar. In May, TEL reached a definitive agreement to acquire NEXX Systems. In October, TEL acquired FSI International. In November, TEL reached a definitive agreement to acquire Magnetic Solutions Ltd. MSL is engaged in the development, manufacture, and sale of magnetic annealing systems.
David Lam, founder of Lam Research in 1980, and currently chairman of both Multibeam and the David Lam Group, has been selected for induction into the distinguished Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame. Other eminent technologists selected for induction include: Aart de Geus, chairman and co-CEO of Synopsys; Martin Hellman, professor emeritus of electrical engineering at Stanford University; and David Hodges, professor emeritus of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.
Here’s the current climate for VLSI Research’s so-called “Weather Report,” which gives a pulse on the IC industry: “The clouds are clearing, revealing a tall mountain to climb. Order activity jumped higher for the first time in nearly six months, led by foundries and logic IDMs. The uptick is seasonal and it’s coming off very low levels as chipmakers remain very cautious about prospects in 2013 due to macro and fiscal uncertainties. Moreover, order activity is down nearly 9 points from last year’s levels, which suggests that the seasonal increase in Q1 will be more subdued from last year. We expect Q1 sales to increase 10% sequentially.”
Despite soft macroeconomic conditions, the market for mobile communications equipment will grow by a robust 13 percent this year, propelled by climbing shipments of mobile handsets and tablets, according to iSuppli.
Samsung and Apple are forecast to dominate the smartphone market this year. In total, these two companies are expected to ship an estimated 353 million smartphones and hold a combined 47% share of the total smartphone market in 2012, according to IC Insights. Smartphone suppliers under pressure include Nokia, RIM, and HTC, each of which is expected to register steep double-digit year-over-year declines in smartphone unit sales this year.
Who’s winning the tablet wars? The answer: Apple, Amazon and Google. The loser? Microsoft. Apple is expected to ship 67.7 million iPads in 2012 and 83.5 million in 2013, according to FBR. The iPad mini is off to a slow start. And Samsung is trailing the pack with the Galaxy Tab. Samsung will ship 6 million Tabs in 2012 and 7.4 million in 2013, according to FBR. Craig Berger, an analyst with FBR, said: “We think Apple will manufacture at least 7.5 million iPad minis in 2012, and 18.5 million units in 2013. We now believe Amazon will manufacture about 10 million units (of the Kindle Fire HD) in 2012 and 15 million in 2013. We think the Google Nexus could move more than 6 million units in 2012 and about 10 million units in 2013. Contrary to what we see for the Kindle Fire and Google Nexus, we believe the first month’s sales of the MS Surface RT tablet have underwhelmed expectations. We estimate production of all Surface tablets, including the x86 models available in 1Q ’13, to be about 3 million units in 4Q ’12, with sales perhaps trending around 3-5 million units in all of 2013.”