jump on China/Asia
China 2005 was the venue of choice for several OEMs to announce the start
of certified refurbished-tool programs. While Novellus Systems and KLA-Tencor
led the pack, Aviza Technology followed suit immediately after the show,
stating that it has initiated a new business unit to supply "cost-effective
solutions" for the 200-mm market.
toolmakers' decision to use the Shanghai trade show to inaugurate their
used-tool businesses was not accidental. "The technology node gap is broadening,"
commented Tom St. Dennis, Novellus's executive vp of sales, worldwide
service, and marketing. In China, device geometries tend to span the 1.0-
to 0.13-Ám range, "but the sweet spot is 0.35 Ám." Approximately 49% of
Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing's devices, for example, are fabricated
at the 0.18-Ám level or below, St. Dennis remarked, while 51% are at the
0.25-Ám level or above. "The trend is clear that there will be lower-tech
200-mm fabs with long lifetimes and a loyal customer base. Technologies
exceed the needs of many customers. So growth is being satisfied by more
of the old stuff."
addition to its China customers, Novellus's customers in South Korea and
Japan are interested in purchasing refurbished tools, said St. Dennis.
The company will initially offer refurbished PECVD, CVD tungsten, and
HDP-CVD tools but plans to add CMP and photoresist strip equipment in
applications, including consumer ones, use larger, reliable device nodes—hence
the need for older-model tools. And despite the proliferation of 300-mm
fabs in the last several years, the number of 200-mm fabs has increased
by 48% since 1997, according to Gartner Dataquest. Most of that 200-mm
activity has taken place in Asia, fueling the market for reliable used
noted St. Dennis, "used to refurbish tools on an ad hoc basis, but not
systematically." The purpose of the refurbished-systems business unit
is to provide customers with a more stable supply chain. "The use of refurbished
tools and 200-mm fabs is greater in China than anywhere else in the world.
Seventy percent of our revenue is outside the U.S. and Europe—i.e.,
in Asia. That trend will only continue."
company has a strategic need "to source materials out of Asia, becoming
more of a global company, and to do more in China," where it employs about
100 people in sales and service capacities. An indication of Novellus's
China strategy was its donation in 2004 of a copper-tool product line
to Shanghai's Fudan University. At the same time, its infrastructure in
other parts of Asia is growing as well. In Hanoi, the company contracts
out the manufacture of flow systems for its tools.
general, the used-tool business is
big—in China, Taiwan, Japan," remarked
Tomoyasu Cho, director of KLA-Tencor's Asia sales and the K-T Certified
division. In contrast to used-equipment brokers that do not offer service
and support, K-T is marketing its refurbishing unit as one-stop shopping.
tools get transferred to K-T Certified," Cho notes. "To do the used-tool
business, you need parts, service"—not simply sales. "KLA-Tencor
will provide full support. Fully refurbished and tested KLA-Tencor equipment
meets or exceeds original product specs." In addition, the company supplies
the latest software versions "so that with old tools customers get software
upgrades."The company also makes hardware improvements and typically
offers warranties on its used equipment.
used inspection and metrology equipment will range in age, depending
on the life cycle of the customer. Cho sees a big market in China and
Japan. A top-tier Japanese company "is building a fab now and stocking
it with used tools. This company is spending lots of money on future
technologies, but it has to make money today."
brokers are taking note of the big toolmakers' announcements, but they
are not necessarily concerned. "I believe it is a wise move for the
OEMs to offer and support the used-equipment needs of the customers,"
noted Bill Wintgens, COO of Techlink, which has provided front-end equipment
to fabs, R&D facilities, and universities since 1987. "This can
benefit the OEMs now, with spares, service support revenue, and potentially
satisfied customers for new tools in the future."
that over the past five years the used-equipment market has expanded
by 40–50% over previous years, Wintgens remarked that most brokers
only sell equipment but do not offer service and support. "Techlink
is among a
number of refurbished-equipment companies that offer warranted refurbished
equipment, including service and support, in China."
the presence of big players such as Novellus and KLA-Tencor, "the
competition will definitely increase in the used-tool-sales market,"
Wintgens believes. However, unless the OEMs keep their pricing in check,
that should not have a great effect on companies such as Techlink. "I
feel it would also benefit the OEMs to cooperate more with the refurbish
companies instead of no cooperation, no parts sales, or support,"
he said. Joint efforts could produce [good] future results for new-equipment
sales with less investment for the OEMs."—BM
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