Semicon West Wrap, NY / GE Investment, IBM / GlobalFoundries talk

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Tim discusses semiconductor industry news on TWCN’s Capital Tonight (Log in required)

Our intrepid Zone 5 team returned from a busy Semicon West week to be inundated with a major new technology investment in our own backyard, wild and rampant speculation on IBM and GlobalFoundries and even a brief TV appearance by your truly.

Semicon West Wrap

Much like the industry it features, this show has seen some consolidation. I’ve been attending since 2006, and the intensity and energy – though refocused – remains. And of course, there is always one constant at Semicon West – Zone 5 will host a killer reception (6 years running now!) with the best wine list of the week. We were thrilled to have our friends at Marcy NanoCenter co-hosting the event with us. As you can see below, a good turnout for this invitation-only event.

Attendees at Zone 5's 6th Annual Uncork Semicon Event

Zone 5’s 6th Annual Uncork Semicon Event

On the show floor, it was really cool to see multiple booths featuring 450 mm wafers. Of course, the transition to 450 was one of the ongoing debates of the week….is it a question or “if” or “when?” Have advances in EUV pressed pause on the transition? Where will the money come from to make the transition? It is wild times!

Of course, the big story of the week was the announcement of the new name of the Tokyo Electron (TEL) and Applied Materials (AMAT) merger – Eteris. Apparently, this new name is meant to be evocative of “eternal innovation for society.”  As a brand marketer, I have to give the joint team at TEL and AMAT credit. Far too often, the brands of the semiconductor are developed with much less thought. You know, like by jamming a few guys’ names together and hoping for the best. I’m not sure I’m totally on board with the name yet, but I give credit where due – it’s thoughtful, pragmatic and not too hard for a dummy like me to spell. Let’s see where it goes!

Major announcement in New York

I had barely finished doing laundry from the trip to San Francisco when a media advisory crossed the wire sharing that NYS Governor Cuomo would be making a major economic development announcement in Niskayuna. To those unfamiliar with the Albany, NY region, an announcement in Niskayuna can only mean one major technology leader: GE. Niskayuna is home to GE’s Global Research Center (GRC) and several thousand of the brightest minds in modern science and technology.

Tuesday’s announcement was another in a seemingly never-end string of R&D investments by New York State – this one, a 5 year, $500 million commitment to create the New York Power Electronics Manufacturing Consortium (NY-PEMC) to develop and produce low cost, high performance 6” silicon carbide wafers in partnership with the State University’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. For GE’s part, they’ll have access to new, leading edge facilities at the college to develop these wafers, which could have great promise in high power devices and may have a major synergy with the power electronics business acquired by GE just a few years ago, Converteam.

IBM/GlobalFoundries

Throughout Semicon West and this week, the continuing drumbeat on the IBM/GlobalFoundries deal (or battle, depending on your position) gained volume. It has been rumored for months that IBM was looking to unload its chip making business, including assets in East Fishkill, NY and Burlington, VT. In recent weeks, the conventional wisdom in the press seemed to speculate about GF buying the business, then having to decide what to do with the facilities and thousands of workers in a state of flux at those facilities. One of the major questions, of course, would be the future of the trusted foundry certifications of the business if purchased by GF.

That back and forth appeared to reach a crescendo over the weekend, when full page ads appeared in papers in the East Fishkill and Burlington area papers for jobs at GlobalFoundries in Malta, NY. What does this mean for the deal? Really tough to say….and my crystal ball has taken the summer off!

So that’s a wrap to wild week – one that was supposed to be quiet following Semicon West! Keep an eye on the SemiZone for continuing insights we gained at West and keep following us on Twitter for regular updates.