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Editor's Blog

The blog is written by Semiconductor Fabtech's Editor-in-Chief, Mark Osborne. Mark is also the Senior News Editor for Photovoltaics International and the PV-Tech website. He has launched multiple technology titles in print and online covering manufacturing in the automotive, shipping, semiconductor and solar sectors in a publishing career spanning three decades. Mark started blogging in 2005, the first technology editor to do so and has worked online since 1996. A veteran manufacturing technology journalist and editor, Mark as been responsible for a series of innovative formats for delivering technical content to an engineering-based audience.

Is MEMC mad to want to raise silicon wafer prices?

23 October 2009
The recovering semiconductor market has prompted MEMC to raise the issue of increasing silicon wafer prices in the new year. As the industry downturn pushed the wafer producer into lowering prices as overall fab utilization rates plummeted and older 200mm fabs started to close for good, business went into the red. MEMC has just reported an operating loss during the third quarter of US$66.7 million. Read more >>

Foundry fun and games begin

10 September 2009 | Comments (2)
It’s always interesting to observe foundries waffle-on about the cost of fabrication, the growth in fab-lite/fabless business strategies and therefore the obvious need for foundries to continue to grow and prosper as more of the industry turns to foundries over time. What we haven’t seen them explain in any detail or with any interest is that there is overcapacity at the foundries and wafer ASPs have been in decline for several years. Also we have seen the slowing of node migrations as the cost of design and masks prevents all but a small top 20 elite of companies to push down Moore’s Law as intended. Read more >>

TI thinking big for analog production

25 August 2009

Texas Instruments has bid US$172.5 million for the 300mm fab equipment up for sale at Qimonda’s Richmond, Virginia facility. Bankruptcy court documents don’t reveal much else, except that TI is a stalking horse bidder in this case, which I think means that TI and Qimonda doubt that higher bids will be received but if they do, Qimonda will have to pay (from where!) a break-up fee.

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Aviza couldn‚??t do a Tegal but Tegal could be doing an Aviza?

20 August 2009
TegalLast week Aviza Technology sold the majority of its assets to Sumitomo Precision Products for not a lot of up-front cash and mostly in promissory notes that will take 18-months before maturity. After Chapter 11 protection and automatic de-listing, Aviza failed to do what Tegal had done years ago and shift market emphasis that resulted in survival on the NASDAQ. Read more >>

Asyst taken apart, one robotic arm at a time

30 July 2009 | Comments (1)
Spartan, EFEMAlthough booth numbers were seriously down at SEMICON West this year, one company that was in attendance was surprisingly, Asyst Technologies. The company filed for Chapter 11 protection back in April and ever since I had picked up rumours concerning potential acquirers as well as more pessimistic tones of a complete collapse and fire sale, which would be happening in the not too distant future! Read more >>

Taiwan‚??s memory merry-go-round

23 July 2009 | Comments (2)
The consolidation in DRAM memory manufacturers is still looking a distant dream after many months and two quarters of this year already gone without any real developments. Taiwan government’s new quango, Taiwan Memory Co is being supported with a paltry NT$30 billion, just enough for office expenses while few memory players are wanting to actually play with TMC in the playground! Read more >>

What people said about SEMICON West but I was too afraid to ask!

20 July 2009
On the long-haul flight over to this year’s SEMICON West, I reminded myself not to be all doom and gloom and totally despondent on the expected tumbleweeds blowing through North and South Halls. Having been pre-warned by a number of equipment suppliers about the drastic reduction in the number of exhibitors and expected attendees, I would try and look at the positive aspects and see how it went! Read more >>

Update: Every blog has its erroneous day thanks to AMD

20 July 2009
It was a cold, dark day for AMD back in October 2007, when concerns over delays to its future 45nm ramp were raised in this blog and on other news sites. So desperate were AMD’s spin-doctors to keep the ‘myth’ of flawless execution in the public eye, that rather than contact myself over my findings, the spin-doctors thought it best to let another journalist/blogger over at CNET remind readers that I had actually made an ‘erroneous report.’ Read more >>

Reducing the cost and impact of innovation

02 July 2009
r. Dirk Ortloff, is Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Process Relations GmbH.Dr. Dirk Ortloff, is Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Process Relations GmbH. Here he discusses the advantages of investing in new technologies and methodologies during the economic downturn as a guest columnist. Read more >>

Where‚??s the fab capacity needed in 2010?

22 June 2009 | Comments (2)
TSMC Fab 14 expansion As a direct follower of the move to 300mm fabs, the lack of new build in 2008 and that expected in 2009 looks set to cause a serious capacity constraint over the next two years as the industry recovers from one of the worst downturns in its history. In his May, 2009 monthly report, Malcolm Penn at Future Horizons believes the capacity shortage at 300mm fabs will impact the industry as soon as 2010. He claims that only 40,000 200mm wafer starts/week equivalent, minus any capacity closures, will come on stream next year, based on the incredibly low capital spending levels. Read more >>