SAN JOSE, Calif. - As reported, Applied Materials Inc. has rolled out a high-throughput, ''smart'' etch system.
Competing with systems from Lam Research and others, the Centris AdvantEdge Mesa Etch tool from Applied is said to be nearly twice as fast as other etchers in conductor applications, thereby lowering the per-wafer cost by up to 30 percent.
Here's what analysts said about the tool:
C.J. Muse, an analyst with Barclays Capital, said: ''AMAT continues to release new products regularly, emphasizing the company's renewed focus on its silicon business (and we applaud them for this). This said, we remain unconvinced that the company is a share grower (only gradual progress in organic growth in WFE - share of 19 percent in 2009 better than 2007/2008 timeframe, but only back to where it was in 2003 and below 22 percent reached in 2004.
AMAT (introduced the) Centris and Silvia etch platforms. The introduced products are intended to be useful in SADP/LELE etch (for now) and in TSV silicon etch (in 2012). In terms of market share, we estimate that the Centris may have helped performance at Toshiba, Samsung, and Micron. That said, we view the products as more evolutionary than revolutionary, and aimed at recapturing share lost in silicon etch when deep trench architecture converted to stack in DRAM. We also note that etch remains a highly competitive segment (not just Lam and TEL but also Hitachi, AMEC and Mattson (non-critical etch)), suggesting share gain potential is likely limited.''
Edwin Mok, an analyst with Needham & Co. LLC, said: ''AMAT announced a new platform for Conductor etch, which appears to be gaining some momentum. With 15 new silicon products announced over the last 15 month, we view AMAT's renewed focus on the silicon business as a positive for the story.
AMAT confirmed that it has already shipped >200 Mesa etch chambers (mostly on the older platform). With the new Centris platform, AMAT is looking to extend the momentum of its Mesa product. AMAT has already placed the Centris at five customers, including two new customers (one memory and one foundry) and a NAND customer that has started production (we believe it's MU). Clearly, AMAT is winning some business in conductor etch, but the key for AMAT to win further share in etch is in dialectic, where AMAT continues to trail behind etch leaders Lam and TEL.''