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INDUSTRY NEWS

WSTS upgrades forecast

Worldwide semiconductor revenues should increase more than previously expected, according to the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) spring forecast. Forecasters also see a "considerably smoother" cycle than previous industry cycles, maintaining their outlook for a "soft landing" for the downturn portion of the cycle. The revised numbers predict 6.3% growth in 2005 (compared with the fall forecast of 1.2%) and 5.2% in 2006 (compared with 3% in the earlier scenario). This would put global revenues at more than $238.2 billion by next year. The forecast shows the chip-hungry Asia-Pacific region continuing as both the fastest-growing and largest revenue area, posting an 11.8% uptick in 2005 to just shy of $100 billion, and soaring to nearly $120 billion by 2007.

WSTS believes that logic ICs will maintain their status as the leading product category, followed closely by micro and memory ICs. The logic segment is expected to climb past $62 billion in 2006 and $69 billion in 2007. The sensors category, although the smallest of the main product groups at less than $5 billion, is expected to show the healthiest growth rate in the coming years, hitting 17% and 19.8% in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

In a separate report, the Semiconductor Industry Association says that overall chip factory utilization declined in 1Q05 compared with 4Q04, dropping from 86 to 85%. However, leading-edge capacity (fabs running <160-nm geometries) grew slightly from 93 to 94% during the same period. Integrated device manufacturers' usage was stable at 87%, while foundry capacities plunged from 78% in 4Q04 to 72% in 1Q05, according to the SIA.

Foresight group retools

One of the first nanotechnology organizations has tweaked its name and updated its mission focus. Renaming itself the Foresight Nanotech Institute, the former Foresight Institute has moved beyond its original educational purview toward one more attuned to the implementation phase. The nonprofit group has come up with six critical challenges that it believes the nanotechnology community must address: meeting global energy needs with clean solutions; providing abundant clean water globally; increasing the health and longevity of human life; maximizing the productivity of agriculture; making powerful information technology available everywhere; and enabling the development of space.

Scott Mize, Foresight's president, sees the challenges as "the key organizing principles for us. We will dedicate our organization to catalyzing and promoting the solutions to these challenges." Addressing the group's transition, he says it "will concentrate more on near- and medium-term applications" in the challenge areas "and what can be done today to put us on the pathway to realizing the full potential of nanotechnology."  As part of this new focus, Mize wants to create "alliances with broader and more-diverse groups of stakeholders."

Foresight plans to expand its current activities of publishing informative Web content, newsletters, books, and public policy papers, as well as organizing educational and networking events as part of its efforts to promote understanding of the benefits and risks of nanotechnology. For more information, go to the organization's revamped Web site at www.foresight.org.

NIST site goes 3-D

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology has added three-dimensional surface analysis capacity to its surface metrology algorithm testing systems (SMATS) Web site. Previously limited to two-dimensional features, the site enables manufacturers to check the accuracy of measurement software used to verify the 3-D surface smoothness of semiconductor, micromechanical, and optical products. NIST has also added a circular-fit measurement feature to the 2-D portion of the site, which permits users to check for errors in software packages of instruments they use to measure cylindrical and spherical components. NIST's virtual surface calibration Web site is available at www.ats.nist.gov/VSC/jsp.

ASMC calls for papers

The IEEE/SEMI Advanced Semiconductor and Manufacturing Conference and Workshop is seeking papers for its 2006 event. The 17th annual ASMC, which takes place May 22–24 in Boston, will provide a forum for the latest information in the practical application of advanced chipmaking strategies and methodologies used to achieve manufacturing excellence, as well as offer networking opportunities for professionals from across the semiconductor spectrum. The organizers are looking for original, noncommercial works dealing with such topics as advanced metrology, processes, and materials; advanced equipment and process control; cost reduction and equipment reliability and productivity; defect inspection and yield enhancement; factory automation and dynamics; lithography advances and challenges; design for manufacturability; and MEMS technology.

Interested authors from all areas of semiconductor manufacturing should provide a one-page abstract of no more than 1000 words, together with an additional page of supporting data and figures, by September 22. After initial peer review, acceptance notifications will be sent by November 17; preliminary manuscripts will be due by January 6, 2006, for additional review. For more author instructions, templates, and general information, go to www.semi.org/asmc.


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