SEMI to re-launch southwest show, cancels 2003 event in midst of market

Mark A. DeSorbo

SAN JOSE, Calif.—If you've penciled in Semicon Southwest this year, make other plans, but keep the early part of 2004 open.

That's the gist of a strategy outlined by Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI), which indicated in a recent letter to exhibitors that poor market conditions and industry feedback has forced the organization to postpone and rethink the show.

“We hope this causes no hardship on members [who] had included Semicon Southwest in their 2003 marketing plans,” says Victoria Hadfield, president of SEMI North America.

The plan, she adds, is to re-launch the show in early 2004, and stretch out the time between the mid-July Semicon West and the southwest show, which is usually held in October or November. Doing so, Hadfield says, will “eliminate one of the concerns many exhibitors have expressed about Semicon Southwest.”

At the last Semicon Southwest show, held in mid-November, SEMI reported that the chip industry was showing signs of recovery, but the rebound was hard to find from the show floor. [See “Mixed news circulates from Semicon Southwest,” December 2002, p. 4].

According to SEMI's post-exposition analysis, there were 300 companies exhibiting, more than 6,500 registered for the show, 4,610 attendees and 1,981 exhibiting personal. According to the report, total pre-registered attendees topped out at 2,402.

Most attendees, 20 percent, came from the process, equipment, manufacturing and design engineering sectors, while 17 percent came from sales, 11 percent came from research and development and another 11 percent came from corporate management. The job functions of the remaining 41 percent include analysis, facilities, manufacturing, marketing and purchasing.

SEMI announced that it is also working to strengthen “ancillary activities,” including technical and business programs.

“We did a lot of interviews with attendees,” says Michael Droeger, manager of communications. “[Attendees] still value a show in that region, but their feedback has forced us to look at how we craft our shows.”

SEMI's West and Japan shows, he explains, are somewhat large events that continue to draw diverse crowds from the semiconductor industry. Semicon Singapore, he adds, has rapidly evolved from a strictly back-end show to an event that now includes the front end of the process, and that, Droeger says, is due to large chipmakers, such as United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC; San Jose, Calif.), building facilities there.

Semicon Southwest, he says, has also evolved into an “enabling product” forum, where exhibitors target equipment manufacturers instead of the device community.

“That was not the purpose of the show,” Droeger adds. “So that's why we decided that we would pull back, take a break and re-launch it as a different kind of show with a more focused program content. It should serve a different purpose than Semicon West.”

According to the post-show analysis, wafer-processing equipment was the main interest among visitors. Materials, facilities and “other equipment” ranked high as well.

“We're in the midst of an extended strategic planning process,” Droeger adds. “We're seeing how we can meet the changing needs of our membership in this changing economy, so now, the show's a work in progress.” lll

Exhuming the dead

For those of you still stuck on Federal Standard 209E, get over it.

It's going on two years since 209E was buried, and the contamination control community still refers to the cleanliness of a cleanroom in the deceased delineation.

What's even more surprising is that the Food and Drug Administration's proposed revision of aseptic processing guidelines calls for a Class 1,000 cleanroom, instead of an ISO-rated environment.

This is not a good thing, especially for a federal agency that is desperately trying to shake the perception that it's stuck in 1987. Even more troublesome is that many are oblivious to the valuable science behind the world cleanroom standard, ISO 14644.

Then again, one reader indicated that his associates and customers lean toward the European M-classification, saying it's relatively the same science as the ISO standard and easier to understand.

The key word here is “relatively” when comparing ISO to 209E, and it's a term used rather loosely when saying an old Class 10,000 cleanroom is “approximately” equivalent to an ISO Class 7 environment.

In fact, that generalization is subject to interpretation, for an ISO Class 7.4 space would allow up to 1,760,000 particles at 0.5 micrometer and larger per cubic meter. This would be comparable to a Class 50,000 cleanroom under 209E.

So whether it's an issue of co-dependence or confusion, it's time to move forward and remember what was proclaimed in a column by the lead member of the ISO technical committee in CleanRooms back in November 2001: 209 is dead, may it rest in peace.

Mark A. DeSorbo
Associate Editor


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