SAN JOSE, Calif. -- South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. could boost its capital spending amid the IC recovery.
In the process, Samsung is also procuring a slew of 193-nm scanners from ASML Holding NV of the Netherlands. In fact, the chip maker is hogging the supply chain for ASML systems.
That's good news for Samsung, but bad news for its memory rivals that use ASML's tools, such as Elpida, Hynix, IM Flash, Micron, Nanya and others. NAND rival Toshiba Corp. is said to use scanners from Nikon Corp.
But there are also implications for Chartered/GlobalFoundries, TSMC and UMC, which also rely on ASML tools.
''Samsung is locking up equipment loading slots (particularly for immersion), delaying equipment deliveries to other players. The broad implication here is that lead times for immersion tools will likely continue to extend, putting pressure on tier-two DRAM players,'' said C.J. Muse, an analyst with Barclays Capital, in a report.
''Clearly, a part of Samsung's plan is to get a first mover advantage by locking up loading slots -- particularly for immersion. All along we have modeled Samsung getting shipped 25 immersion tools in 2010, including 24 from ASML and 1 from Nikon. We understand more than
65 percent of these tools have been ordered with shipment delivery expected in 1H10,'' Muse said.
Samsung is procuring ASML's new 193-nm immersion tool, dubbed the NXT. ''Our view continues to be that Samsung has been aggressively locking up ASML NXT slots and that they will come back in 2Q10 and place more orders (particularly for the NXT),'' Muse said.
''The broad implication here is that lead times for immersion tools will likely continue to extend, putting pressure, in particular, on tier-two DRAM players. It
is here where we expect more meaningful immersion orders over the coming quarters (we understand Elpida and Hynix are placing orders in 1Q10) and that this should provide increased visibility to other front-end equipment companies for their shipments through the remainder of 2010,'' he said.
The losers in the litho world? ''Our checks suggest that a two- to three-month slip has slowly materialized for Nanya/Inotera and Rexchip's litho tool schedule,'' he said, referring to the Taiwan DRAM makers.
Taiwan's Inotera has a DRAM joint partnership with Micron Technology Inc. Taiwan's Rexchip is a DRAM venture between Japan's Elpida and Powerchip Semiconductor Corp.
''We think that Samsung is not oblivious to the fact
that given ASML has a finite capacity, its capacity to consume NXT litho tools for its build-out has very real consequences to the profitability of DRAM players which are not yet at 50-nm or sub-50-nm nodes,'' he said.
''In NAND, the picture is slighly complex, where IM Flash has captured the lead in the race to the 2X-nm node, with Samsung and Toshiba right behind and with Hynix in the rear, just managing to enter the 3X-nm
node,'' he said.
''However, Samsung and Micron both play in the DRAM as well as NAND market, and therefore a delay of Nanya/ Inotera conversion means that DRAM manufacture cannot be offloaded to Nanya/ Inotera and Micron's Manassas, Virginia and Lehi, Utah fabs' capacity
cannot be fully dedicated to NAND,'' he said. ''This also, in a sense delays additionally capacity being built in IMF-Singapore.''