SAN FRANCISCO -- Fab tool executives are upbeat about 2010.
Still, during a panel at Semicon West, executives raised some concerns about the industry. Here are at least five worries:
1. R&D dollars.
Fab tool vendors must continue to invest and move down the technology curve, but R&D dollars remain finite. There is not enough (R&D) money to go around, said Randhir Thakur, executive vice president and general manager of Silicon Systems at Applied Materials Inc.
- Next downturn.
Business is hot now, but the recent downturn is still fresh in the minds of vendors. And the industry never seems to learn past lessons. The equipment industry has the ability to over-supply, said Stephen G. Newberry, president and CEO of Lam Research.
- General economy.
There is still some concern about the state of the U.S. economy and Europe, said Keith Barnes, chairman and CEO of Verigy.
- Venture capital.
There is a troubling lack of venture capital for new startups, Barnes said.
- Engineering talent.
In the future, there is still a concern about engineers entering the fab tool market, said Rick Wallace, CEO of KLA-Tencor.