Aviza’s Cutini optimistic about 3D IC, MEMS market

by Pete Singer, Editor-in-Chief

July 14 — Speaking at the SEMInvest forum on Monday, Aviza’s CEO Jerry Cutini said that the MEMS and through-silicon-via/3D IC markets are finally starting to buy equipment in production quantities.

“We’ve heard about this for years. We’ve heard about the promise of MEMS, but we’re starting to see multimillion dollar orders come through for high-volume manufacturing of these devices,” he said. “The time has finally come for those companies to start increasing their purchases and it’s all driven by the consumer devices,” he said.

Aviza, which manufactures systems for etch, deposition, and atomic layer deposition (ALD), is particularly focused on these areas, the exception being ALD which is really related to device performance and device speed, he said. “We believe those to be the fastest growing markets in the process equipment area.” He said these markets represent a billion-dollar TAM (total available market) by 2011 for all products, with a compound annual growth rate of approximately 18% CAGR.

Cutini also talked about some negative and positive trends presently impacting the semiconductor industry and which are “causing a lot of confusion” among investors. The global economy is a big problem, he said, noting that oil is consuming discretionary spending. “On the plus and minus side, the dollar weakness does help us overseas. We have some successes in the overseas markets, we’re certain because of the dollar effect. However, almost 40% of our costs are in the European region and UK. That is a problem that the global economy is going to have to deal with for everyone. We all know the customer base is declining and that’s a little bit of an issue for everyone in our industry.”

Cutini also noted that the prolonged memory market is an issue for everyone, and the timing of its recovery will likely be a common discussion touchpoint at SEMICON West this week. He believes that later in the year and the early part of next year, DRAM capacity will start to come into balance. “There is still consolidation happening in that sector and I think the pain will end,” he said.

On the positive side, Cutini pointed to emerging markets outgrowing the rest of the industry. “As handheld devices proliferate, the demand for smaller form factor and increased functionality will continue to put pressure on device manufacturers to deliver more performance in a smaller footprint,” he said. He believes Aviza to be one of the leading providers of deep silicon etching, “which is the enabling technology when you look at this 3D form factor,” he said. “We have through silicon via devices, we have high-brightness LED customers that are starting to grow, MEMS, and lastly, in the mainstream IC area, we’re starting to get some real traction in ALD in high performance devices. What we see is those markets are growing at a different rate than the overall market. What’s good about those is that we are not memory demand specific. Those are just consumer demand specific.” — P.S.


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