03:48 AM

Chips News Roundup: Memory Is A Mess; Chip Startups Are Squeezed

[Matt Grimshaw offers a weekly roundup of news affecting the largest US tech industry.]

By Matt Grimshaw, Editorial Director, Future-Fab International

Change seems to be the only constant left in this age of double caffeinated, taurine infused hyper-communication. Icons seem to be a thing of a bygone era, now the world is populated by sharks; to stop swimming is to die. The Chip industry in particular is facing several key infliction points in parallel.

We’re entering an age of exponential change, in everything we know and take for granted, and the chip industry is no different. In fact it’s the chip business that is the catalyst for most of the changes; well what do you think runs your gadgets, laptops, TV’s and the like?

Well you haven’t seen anything yet – if some of the Star Trek Tech that I see coming from Universities is anything to go by prepared to not only accept change, but have that change happen to your physical being – for an idea of that which I speak take a look at this presentation by Juan Enriquez speaking at TED.

The News This Week…

Tons of analysis in another quiet week of non-news as the chip industry takes a big deep breath before the double whammy of Semicon West and the Design Automation Conference both in July and both in San Francisco.

Lets kick off with a bold statement by the head of a new memory company called Unity Semiconductor who claims that the Memory business model is broken, a statement that is quite possibly valid but as his company is hoping to fill the void I’m sure the rational for the argument could be argued over until the cows came home, although I’ve no idea where the cows went in the first place. Highlighting many of the points made by that story news of Qimonda’s break up is rather disturbing to someone like me who has countless friends at the beleaguered DRAM Company.

Memory is not the only segment that’s taking a beating; start ups in the semiconductor sector also face a torrid time with VC money being hard to come by in this economy allied to the fact that the cost of entry is getting up there with that of a satellite launch or a Vente latte at Stabucks.

One highlight of news this week is a very well thought out article from Mark LaPedus asking is Intel a fab tool broker or breaker? Well worth a read… and good to see that journalism isn’t dead yet.

After that mainly analyst’s doing their thing…starting with Gartner who first say that a sustainable recovery is coming in 2010 although it will be a slow recovery in the electronics sector, however that’s not as tough as the lithography sector is this year…

Many analysts are piping up about last week’s news of Morris Chang re-taking the reins of TSMC while Future Horizons claim April’s growth was the best since 1996 which no matter what the figures say is hard pill to swallow psychologically speaking considering the waves of ugly news that we’ve been wading through recently.

Finishing on an upbeat note there’s a good article from Emma Lo Russo on the positives to take from recessions – a view I partake of myself although I should warn readers to watch out for the halitosis comment in the first paragraph, indeed don’t be drinking coffee when you read as I was unless you want to spend 10 minutes cleaning up your laptop after snorting coffee out of your nose laughing…

Geek of the Week…

This weeks GotW goes to a rather non-geeky type of person. Bertrand Piccard the Swiss adventurer (first man to fly solo around the world in a balloon) has plans to fly solo around the world in a Solar Powered plane… My CEO met him a few years ago at Semicon Europa and tells me he is easily a contender for the real ‘Most Interesting Man in the World’. I doff my imaginary cap to you sir, for if I were a cap wearer, you certainly deserve a doffing.

Matt Grimshaw is the Editorial Director of the Semiconductor Technical Journal; Future Fab International (www.future-fab.com) and writes a weekly blog post for FFI’s social network site Future Fab Connect (www.futurefabconnect.com) that offers a tongue in cheek review of the weeks news and his wanderings in search of Editorial in the Semiconductor industry.