Arizona gets Intel fab nod
Intel has decided to site its sixth 300-mm fab on its Chandler, AZ, campus. The factory, known as Fab 32, will be the company's first high-volume plant for the 45-nm process technology node. Construction on the $3 billion project has already begun, with production scheduled to start in the second half of 2007. The 1-million-sq-ft structure will include 184,000 sq ft of cleanroom space. The company says that Fab 32 will create up to 1000 new jobs, adding to the 9000 already employed by Intel in Arizona. Published reports have credited a recent tax-relief measure enacted by the Arizona legislature as a key part of the financial incentives that led to Intel's decision to build another fab near Phoenix.
M&A activity rolls along
Several deals in the semiconductor and microelectronics equipment, materials, and subsystems space have continued the trend toward industry consolidation. Brooks Automation and Helix Technology have agreed to a stock swap, in which the automation supplier will buy the vacuum component company for more than $450 million. Brooks shareholders will own 61% of the combined company, with Helix shareholders controlling the remaining 39%. Brooks president and CEO Ed Grady will continue in those positions in the combined company, which will be known as Brooks Automation. The deal is expected to close in 4Q2005.
The public courting of August Technologies took a turn in late June with the announcement by the inspection and defect analysis tool supplier that it had agreed to merge with Rudolph Technologies in a cash and stock deal. The definitive agreement was unanimously approved by the boards of both companies and is expected to close in 4Q2005. The move leaves August's original suitor, Nanometrics, at the altar, with the other hopeful involved, KLA-Tencor, seemingly out of the running. The resulting company will be known as Rudolph Technologies and will maintain two centers of excellence—one for inspection at the August facilities in Bloomington, MN, and the other for metrology at the corporate headquarters in Flanders, NJ.
In other acquisition moves, Santa Clara, CA-based photonics tool manufacturer Coherent bought excimer and solid-state laser specialist TuiLaser of Munich, Germany, for about $22.5 million in cash. In a move to bolster its Fisher Regulators business unit, Emerson Process Management purchased pressure-control component supplier Tescom for an undisclosed sum. Illinois Tool Works acquired Rippey and will add the CMP consumables supplier to its contamination control suite of companies that includes Texwipe, ALMA, and Chemtronics.
Companies expand in Asia
A number of companies have recently started building or opened new centers or expanded existing ones in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region. Rohm and Haas broke ground in late June on its China R&D Center in Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park in the Pudong area of Shanghai. The site, which will comprise a four-story research facility and a four-story administration building, will open in mid-2006 and will be the company's research and technical service headquarters for China and the rest of the region.
Two suppliers are bolstering their Korean infrastructure. Toppan Photomasks will add new cleanroom space at its Ichon facility. The company will install an advanced E-beam pattern generator and associated support tools for volume production of 90-nm masks and 65-nm prototype development. In its Jincheon plant, Honeywell Electronic Materials is scheduled to bring up its new 300-mm PVD sputtering target production line this year. The Korean facility will add capacity to that produced by the company's existing 300-mm target factory in Spokane, WA.
In Japan, Micronic Laser Systems and Greene, Tweed are launching new centers. The Swedish laser pattern generator toolmaker has opened its Asia Technical and Applications Center in Tokyo. The 1000-m2 facility, which features a suite of the company's products as well as metrology and process equipment, provides a range of testing, customer training, and other support programs. Greene, Tweed plans to open its engineering center in Kumamoto in October. The 10,800-sq-ft plant—equipped with design, analysis, custom engineering, and testing capabilities—will serve the Asia-Pacific region, with emphasis on Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.
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© 2007 Tom Cheyney
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