Onward and Upward

Generally, companies save their exciting new product introductions for the major trade shows to make the biggest industry splash possible. Taking into consideration that the electronics manufacturing industry has experienced more fundamental change in the past few years than at any other time in history, this year's SEMICON West held some promise. ESEC couldn't wait until the official show opening to unveil its Tsunami Wire Bonder 3100, which contains a rotating bondhead unit with speedy performance and multi-lingual graphical user interface. Henkel Loctite Corp. introduced an advanced underfill material offering enhanced properties for leading edge semiconductors.

Ultratech Inc. unveiled the UltraMet 100, reportedly the industry's first metrology system developed to measure any die on a wafer. BTU held a press conference to introduce the company's integrated line for reflow processing that reportedly is capable of handling 200 or 300 mm wafers.

All signs of innovation and creativity were there. Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) posted the June 2003 Book-to-Bill Ratio of 0.93. A Book-to-Bill of 0.93 means that $93 worth of new orders was received for every $100 of product billed for the month. IPC — Association Connecting Electronics Industries announced the Interconnect Manufacturing Services/Printed Circuit Board (IMS/PCB) Book-to-Bill Ratio for June 2003 at 1.02, a notable improvement over recent months.

Attendees walked the exhibit floors in greater numbers than expected for all three days at SEMI West in San Jose. At the Advanced Packaging Awards ceremony, the room sparkled with industry experts ready to toast the innovative spirit in back-end assembly. From our Board of Advisors meeting, talk of low-k dielectrics, to the move to copper, to stacked packages, to system-in-a-package and other topics kept the conversation lively.

On July 18, Gartner Dataquest presented a briefing at SEMI West titled “The Back-end Leads the Recovery.” Once again, the room was filled with hopefuls wanting above all to trust the latest announcements. The semiconductor market pie is divided into the following percentages: military at three percent, industrial at seven percent, automotive at eight percent, consumer at 17 percent, communication at 24 percent and data processing at 41 percent. Within these markets, in 2002, semiconductor revenue grew two percent; it is projected to grow another eight percent in 2003. Now you're talking growth.

When will the U.S. economy recover? According to Klaus-Dieter Rinnen, the managing vice president at Gartner, it will “when we least expect it.” These are some of the major trends: In 2003, the economy will improve, though back-end loaded. In electronics equipment, we should expect a gradually improving phased recovery. Corporate spending is expected to return in 2003. On the capital equipment side, Rinnen expects an upgrade in packaging equipment, achieving a 26 percent growth in 2003.

May it be so. At long last there's a little light at the end of the tunnel. Let it shine.

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Gail Flower


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