One of the white elephants of modern semiconductor equipment design would have to be ASM’s Levitor RTP technology. After years of development and no customers, (one I can recall, though that could have been an eval-only deal), ASM pulled the plug on the development of the tool last year as it struggled to restructure its front-end fab equipment operations. ASM had hoped to off-load the unique but unwanted technology but that had proved too difficult, especially since the collapse in capital equipment sales and lack of access to capital.
However, ASM has given the 20 odd employees who were running the Levitor business unit €4 million for working capital needs and spun off the product into a new company (not yet named), in which ASM will only have a minority share.
Someone must think there is a market for this tool as the current ASM RTP business unit management have bought themselves some time to find new markets for the technology. Hopefully that is outside the semiconductor industry, but I won’t hold my breath on that one.
Apparently, the new company plans to develop ‘new RTP-related products,’ without saying anything else!
Could some one please remind me the last time a white elephant had offspring that went on to greater glory?