Foundries flattened by downturn
While many silicon foundry providers hope the market will recover in the second half of 2001, fab utilization rates among these vendors continue to fall to new and record-low levels.
At last count, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC), the world's largest foundry, was reportedly down to about 40% in terms of overall fab utilization rates, according to sources in the industry.
Taiwan's United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), the second largest foundry, is reportedly running at about 35%, sources said. And Singapore's Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Pte. Ltd., the third largest provider, is down to 30%, after deciding to close one of its fabs for a week or two, said sources in the region.
One of the lowest fab utilization rates in the industry is reportedly hitting the Anam foundry fab of Amkor Technology Inc.. The company's Korean foundry factory is believed to be running at just 25% of its installed capacity. In April, U.S..-based Amkor said it remained committed to restructuring ownership in Anam and was exploring opportunities. M.L.
Test contractors clobbered too
While the silicon foundries are watching their fab utilizationrates nosedive, the independent IC-testing houses face an even worse situation. Some industry sources believe that the larger IC-testing houses based in Taiwan are running at between 30-to-40% their installed capacity, while the smaller players are down to a staggering 10%. --M.L.
Why does Intel own AMD stock?
Does Intel Corp. plan to buy its rival in the microprocessor business--Advanced Micro Devices Inc.? It's unlikely. But according to documents filed at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Intel surprisingly owns 80,858 shares of AMD's stock--for a total value of just over $2.3 million. Intel has a vast portfolio of stocks in its portfolio, but why the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip giant continues to hold AMD remains unclear. --M.L.
Agere sees end to pricing pressure
Prices for chips used in communications and networking applications are under pressure, but Agere Systems Inc. hasn't seen any outrageous requests from its troubled customers in these segments, according to CEO John T. Dickson.
During a conference call with analysts on Friday, Dickson said Agere has renegotiated many contracts for semiconductors and optoelectronics products at the request of customers looking for help in the downturn. Price cutting has slightly higher and, in some cases, much greater than the normal 20% annual reduction rates, he said. The lack of orders and falling prices have forced Agere close its aging wafer fab in Madrid, Spain, and lay off another 4,000 workers worldwide (see June 29 story).
In the past 90 days "we have completed most of those new contracts with customers, and they apply for a year going forward, at least.... Unless the end market continues to decline aggressively, I think we are through the pricing pressure," he told analysts on Friday. --J.R.L.
New boss at ASML MaskTools
Sources say Dinesh Bettadapur has been appointed the new president of ASM Lithography's photomask software operation--ASML MaskTools. He replaces Doug Marsh, who remains vice president of business integration with the Dutch-based lithography giant. --M.L.