Plastic ICs make fab spending more elastic
Who needs a $1 billion fab? Certainly not startup FlexICs Corp.
This week, FlexICs announced it will soon begin shipping samples of the world's first semiconductors fabricated on six-inch plastic substrates (see Sept. 26 story). It is now ready to begin producing plastic integrated circuits in its fab using 2-micron process technology after announcing the opening of a pilot production facility during the summer.
The company's fab cost a grand total of $1-to-2 million, according to chairman and CEO Magnus Ryde of the Milpitas startup. It is currently using refurbished equipment, including contact aligners from Karl Suss GmbH, excimer laser systems from Lambda Physik AG, and other tools to develop plastic ICs. --M.L.
Intel's new fabless ASIC plan
doesn't worry LSI's Corrigan
This week, Intel Corp. raised eyebrows by jumping into the ASIC market. The company plans to approach the market with a fabless model--a move that potentially threatens the traditional ASIC houses, like Agere, IBM Microelectronics, LSI Logic, and others, according to industry observers.
Several ASIC houses, including LSI Logic Corp., are keeping a close eye on Intel's announcement. But top officials at LSI Logic maintain that it's still unclear in terms of how the Santa Clara, Calif. chip giant will approach this market.
"We'll have to wait and see," responded Wilfred Corrigan, chairman and chief executive officer of LSI Logic in Milpitas, Calif. "We're still unclear what Intel is really going to do," remarked Corrigan when asked by <> if he was worried. --M.L.
Applied still checking out test suppliers
Semiconductor equipment giant Applied Materials Inc. is still reportedly evaluating a plan to step into the automatic test equipment (ATE) business. As reported at this summer's Semicon West trade show in San Jose, Applied has been checking out the businesses of several ATE makers.
But don't look for Applied to make any acquisition soon, especially given the current business conditions in the troubled test systems business, said one ATE veteran.
In fact, there are reports that some troubled ATE houses have not garnered a "real" order for equipment for about six months now. Many ATE companies are living on their service business--such as repairs, replacement parts, and training--making this a bad business opportunity for Applied, observed the ATE veteran. --M.L.