Expert's Panel

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    How does the evolving foundry business impact the SEM cycles? Are there any changes occurring in this area?

  1. Let me offer three things. First by 2012 foundries will be 40-48% of the world-wide equipment and materials consumed. Second is the type of equipment and materials they have. Traditionally, we have been accustomed to selling to a particular company that runs a particular set of processes. Now a foundry comes along and says on this line, this week, we are going to make memory devices and next week we will make logic devices. So they are going to ask you for very flexible equipment; and they are going to want materials such as photoresist that doesn’t just work well with one type of device, but works well with four or five types of devices. The third effect is this—and it is very good for all of us—it allows for more applications of semiconductor devices. A salesperson for Motorola says we make these types of devices and I have to go look for applications that fit. With foundries you can start a fables semiconductor company without worrying about the future applications. You can start with one and gravitate to others freely because you don’t have to worry about building a $3-billion fab. The impact of the cycle is to dampen it somewhat because companies can be very creative in going out and selling new applications.
  2. Another reason it will dampen the up and down cycles for equipment is that we won’t be as tied to the building of a new fab to make a sale. The large fabs may start with only 40% of the potential being utilized and add more capacity with new equipment more regularly.
  3. However, be aware that you will have fewer customers buying less equipment than the many customers used to buy.
  4. On the test side you may have more opportunities than you used to have. With the IDMs they made a purchase and then you and everyone else was shut out for three years. With foundries, their customers are dictating what the test equipment will be for their products, which means needs are more frequently changing.