PARIS Despite a widening net loss, year-over-year, in the first half of fiscal year 2009-2010, French SOI specialist Soitec SA said it has detected signs of renewed optimism in SOI markets for 2010 and beyond.
For the first half of financial year 2009-2010, Soitec published consolidated sales of 94.2 million euros ($142 million), down 21.7 percent year-on-year. The operating loss amounted to 15.8 million euros ($23.8 million), versus 9.4 million euros ($14.1 million) in the first half of the previous financial year. And, the net loss reached 19.4 million euros ($29.2 million), compared to a loss of 8.0 million euros ($12 million) in the same period of 2008-2009.
At a press conference last week in Paris, André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé, president and CEO of Soitec SA (Bernin, France), acknowledged that "the loss is higher than in the first half of 2008-2009" but, he specified, "revenues are different."
Auberton-Hervé continued: "We have recorded a net financial charge but behind there is only good management as we have secured our investments. Our cash has been invested in treasury bonds thus remains available and protected. We have generated 306 million euros of free cash flow. The debt has been reduced on a sequential basis, from 35.3 million euros ($53.2 million) to 19.4 million euros ($29.2 million)."
Soitec's CEO noted that a particularity of the semiconductor industry is its ability to quickly overcome a crisis. He further commented: "The crisis is behind us. Forecasts have constantly improved throughout the year, and there is a sense of renewed optimism for the year 2010 with growth areas that reach again comfortable levels. The SOI technology is at the heart of this rebound. We have taken the right decisions to enable a rebound."
Auberton-Hervé noted that Soitec's R&D efforts remained unchanged as it was out of question to slow them down during and exiting the crisis. An effort was also made in overall expenses.
Taking a broader look at the industry, Auberton-Hervé said he has witnessed positive momentum in SOI markets. He declared: "Despite the crisis, all players have proven that the SOI offer is valid. The SOI consortium now counts more than 30 members, and this figure proves the interest of the SOI technology."
The recent ARM announcement is essential as it demonstrates the interest of a SOI platform for SoC applications, Soitec's CEO continued.
This reference takes us back to October, when ARM indeed reported on a silicon-on-insulator (SOI) 45-nm test chip that demonstrates potential power savings of up to 40 percent over traditional bulk process for manufacturing chips at the same geometry.
ARM and Soitec collaborated to produce the test chip to demonstrate the power savings in a real silicon implementation.
The test chip was based on an ARM 1176 processor and enables a direct comparison between SOI and bulk microprocessor implementations. The results confirm SOI technology is a viable alternative to traditional bulk process technology when designing low-power processors for high-performance consumer devices and mobile applications, ARM said.