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August 2008

ComicCon 2008: Content is King, and Gamers Still Love Their Big Boxes

Frequent readers of the Semico Spin know that I am a fan of ComicCon and attend it in San Diego, CA during my family vacation.  This is the fifth year in a row if I remember correctly which we attended.  As I say every year, there were more geeks than you can shake a light saber at.

 For those unfamiliar with ComicCon , it is the largest convention for comic books in the world.  However, it covers a great deal more.  Science fiction and fantasy TV and movies are heavily represented.  These are usually tied in with comics and animation.  There is also a strong tie in with video games.  For the first time in its history ComicCon was sold out for all four days with attendance of 125,000 each day.  It is the largest convention through out the year for the city of San Diego.

ComicCon 2008

Semico: DRAM and NAND Flash: Doing the Memory Tango

Why is it critical to look at DRAM and NAND memories together?  As the target application for memory technologies continues to shift away from desktop personal computing, the value propositions of memory technologies have also changed.  In this report, we examine the strategic issues of the total memory market where manufacturing and technology decisions decide the profitability and health of participants and end use implementers.

Semicon West 2008

Several Semico analysts attended Semicon West this year.  Although the forecast for 2008 capital expenditures is for less spending, there was still a lot to get excited about at the show this year. 

We talked to a few companies with innovative improvements to image sensor technology.  Sarnoff has developed a back illumination technology that utilizes SOI wafers.  Tessera continues to find ways to improve optics with their wafer level camera technology that allows for high performance imaging combined with innovative packaging to produce an ultra thin camera module.  Digital camera technology will continue to grow in cell phone and standalone camera applications but it will also increase in numbers for industrial, automotive and medical applications as well.  These improvements from Sarnoff and Tessera will enhance and broaden image sensor applications.    

Novellus is expecting to win big as the memory manufacturers go into high production with their mega-fabs which can process 140,000 to 160,000 wafers per month compared to the 40,000 or 50,000 wafers per month that an average logic fab is capable of processing.  Even at 1 or 2 copper layers, that’s a lot of material and processing steps which translates into more equipment.  I have to keep reminding myself that these are also 300mm wafers!  If unit demand continues to grow at 10% CAGR, wafer demand could double!  Who says we don’t need 450mm wafers?

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