|The sale of liquid dispensing equipment through the Camalot unit comprises a key Speedline Technologies business.
"It's Business as Usual," Speedline's Boss Says
By Ron Iscoff, Editor
Franklin, Mass.-Despite August's surprise news from Cookson Group plc declaring that four Speedline Technologies units are for sale, Speedline's president Pierre de Villeméjane says, "it's business as usual."
Accel, Camalot, Electrovert and MPM, representing Cookson Electronics' equipment business, are on the block. Although Specialty Coating Systems, a supplier of parylene materials, reported to de Villeméjane, SCS will remain with Cookson Electronics. The four equipment brands represent tools for use in centrifugal cleaning (Accel), liquid dispensing (Camalot), reflow and wave soldering (Electro-vert) and stencil printing (MPM).
Ideally, the Speedline units-which represent four individual acquisitions by Cookson Electronics from the mid-90s-will be sold as a single operating division, not as individual companies, de Villeméjane told Chip Scale Review.
|Pierre de Villeméjane
|Raymond P. Sharpe
Materials Group Not Affected
Cookson Group plc, in its original announcement, said the company's materials business, which includes Alpha Metals, Enthone, Fry, Polyclad Laminates and SCS, will not be affected.
In a prepared statement, Raymond P. Sharpe, Cookson Electronics' president and CEO, said Cookson Electronics will focus on its advanced materials core business for electronics and surface finishing industries.
"Although Speedline has had a history of technological leadership, the intensity of recent cycles and variability in the equipment marketplace has led us to conclude that it is in the best interest of our customers and shareholders to sell it.
|MPM Ultraprint 1500
"Our goal," added Sharpe, "is to find a new owner focused on the electronics equipment market and one who is better suited to support the ongoing needs of a leading high-tech capital equipment company such as Speedline."
In the phone interview, de Villeméjane admitted that he was not surprised at the action by Cookson Group plc. "Cookson has historically been a materials-focused company. They started 300 years ago in materials and metals and are going back to their core businesses-which makes a lot of sense."
Asked if Cookson had placed a deadline on the sale of the Speedline units, de Villeméjane replied in the negative. "It's obvious, however, that we want to get this sale completed as quickly as possible, but there is no specific deadline."
Cookson Group, he said, has a specific dollar amount in mind and has begun the process of talking to buyers. De Villeméjane said Cookson will not insist on buyers from any specific continent. As the selling process moves on, Speedline will continue business as usual.
"All of our R&D programs are moving forward; all key customer-related projects are moving forward. "We're actually continuing to do some of our joint projects with the Cookson materials group on specific applications related to lead-free solders," he reported.
De Villeméjane termed the Cookson Group's decision to exit equipment "part of a wider portfolio strategy." There may have been several factors that went into the Cookson Group's decision, he said.
"We're not out of the electronics industry downturn, and that's hitting everybody, not only capital equipment suppliers."
Cookson, de Villeméjane noted, has been concentrating on fewer, stronger businesses in the past few years. Earlier this year, Cookson Group sold its precious metals stamping business. Before that sale, he noted, Cookson sold off several small ceramic businesses.
Asked about the status of the business, de Villeméjane said, "We're starting to see a little bit of an uptick in the last few weeks. It's tough to know, however, whether this is a sustaining uptick or just a little blip before Christmas. This uptick has been across-the-board, not only in Asia, but in Europe and the U.S., as well."
The Speedline chief is "looking forward to the right owner who will be focused on capital equipment, because I think it's perfect timing to get ready for the upturn. If you're an optimist the upturn will come in 3 to 6 months. If you're a pessimist, it's going to be in 9 to 12 months." [cooksonelectronics.com]
Unaxis Absorbs ESEC, Ending 35 Years of High Brand Visibility
By Ron Iscoff, Editor, and Terrence E. Thompson, Senior Editor
Pfäffikon, Switzerland-Unaxis' merger of ESEC, the Swiss assembly equipment giant, into "Unaxis Semiconductors" ends the die attach equipment leader's nearly 35-year sojourn as an independent and highly visible brand.
Pending shareholder approval, the merger-which will result in ESEC's stock being exchanged for Unaxis shares-will become effective October 16.
What Unaxis refers to as a "segment," will be comprised of three distinct areas of business activity representing three former divisions: Semiconductors Backend (the former ESEC); Semiconductors Front End and the Display division.
Collectively, these three divisions accounted for total sales of $274.7 million last year. Unaxis Semiconductors will number some 1500 workers globally, of these, half are located at Cham and Trübbach, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein facilities. A reduction in force will affect about 60.
Asuri S. Raghavan, a member of Unaxis' Executive Board, will head the new segment.
|ESEC's first transistor bonder
Karl Nicklaus, a Swiss, founded ESEC in December 1968. Originally the company was known by its formal name, the European Semiconductor Equipment Co.
Before founding ESEC, Nicklaus, now retired, worked for almost 10 years in a semiconductor lab, he told Chip Scale Review in a 1999 interview (July-August 1999, page 44).
At the time, the exchange rate of dollars to Swiss francs was 1:4 or higher, making U.S.-made assembly equipment very expensive. "After working in the lab, I decided that assembly equipment might be a good business if we could produce it for the European market."
Before he founded ESEC, however, Nicklaus worked for Kulicke & Soffa as a consulting engineer. K&S later became Nicklaus' main competitor in wire bonders, although ESEC grew to eclipse its American rival in die attach equipment sales.
"At one point," Nicklaus recalled for Chip Scale Review, "K&S decided to return its European headquarters to Germany from Zug, Switzerland," and Nicklaus was to stay in Zug. He decided, however, that when K&S moved, it was time to start his own assembly equipment business.
|Another early, manual bonder, unidentified
Unaxis Acquires Majority Interest
Although Unaxis Holdings SA acquired the majority interest in ESEC in 2000, the assembly equipment company continued to operate largely as an independent unit.
A reliable source inside ESEC is "very confident" that the marketing will continue under the ESEC brand name with the merger virtually transparent to ESEC customers.
ESEC, industry observers feel, will now be able to exploit internal Unaxis synergies better and maintain its top ranking as a die bonder supplier. It is also likely to try to improve market penetration into the wire bonding area currently dominated by Kulicke & Soffa, Shinkawa and ASM Pacific.
'Merger Has Many Positives'
Dr. Subash Khadpe, editor and publisher of the Semiconductor Packaging Update newsletter, commented, "ESEC's merger with Unaxis has many positives. Unaxis' substantial financial resources will provide the much-needed critical mass for ESEC to survive and prosper in the aftermath of the worst industry slump in history.
"It also will provide ESEC with a much broader base of potential customers, especially in Taiwan, where the Unaxis Balzers unit is very popular with both semiconductor and LCD players," he told Chip Scale Review.
|A recent fully automated die attach system
The merger, said Dr. Khadpe, should also give Unaxis a boost in the flip-chip business arena. "As TCP, chip-on-flex/film (COF), chip-on-glass (COG), MEMS/MOEMS, smart cards and RFID tags become more pervasive, the combination of Unaxis/ESEC products and technology expertise with new CEO Asuri Raghavan is positive," Dr. Khadpe observed.
Raghavan's extensive knowledge and experience in both front-end (Gasonics/ Novellus) and backend (K&S) global markets "could be hard to beat," Dr. Khadpe said. "I foresee the merged Unaxis/ ESEC becoming one of the top 10 global players if it executes flawlessly."
Contacted in Switzerland after the announcement, founder Karl Nicklaus expressed a twinge of nostalgia at the forthcoming delisting of ESEC's stock in favor of Unaxis.
He observed, however, that industry analysts will likely pay more attention to Unaxis.
Nicklaus also felt that ESEC, operating nearly independently as it has been doing, could not afford the new product development costs needed in the future.
"The merger will enable the company to develop new and better products that will challenge the competition," he told Chip Scale Review.
(from their Website)
1968 - ESEC founded in Hunenberg, Switzerland
1970 - First high-speed die bonder introduced
1975 - ESEC USA founded in Arizona
1978 - First fully digital wire bonder introduced
1994 - ESEC shares listed on the Swiss Exchange, Zurich
2000 - Unaxis Holding SA acquires a 57 percent majority in ESEC
2002 - Founding of ESEC Semiconductor (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.
Israeli Investment Group Acquires K&S' Sawing Equipment Business
Haifa, Israel-An Israeli investment group has bought the assets of Kulicke & Soffa's Haifa-based sawing equipment and hard material blades facility.
The sale includes the K&S unit in Haifa and the Micro-Swiss hard material blades business located in Yokneam, Israel. K&S said that it does not plan to sell its Semitec brand of dicing blades business in Santa Clara, Calif.
The Haifa and Yokneam units only accounted for about two percent of K&S' revenues for the first three fiscal quarters, according to C. Scott Kulicke, chairman. "Our shareholders will not see a significant shift in revenue going forward, as a result of the sale."
The sawing equipment and hard material blades "have not benefitted from the process development synergies that have been developed among our other businesses," Kulicke added.
Although K&S has not disclosed the name of the buyer, an Israel-based web site, globes.co.il, and other Israel-based media disclosed that the buyer is the ADT Group. One of its principals, Asher Brockmann, served as general manager of K&S Israel for many years. [kns.com]
The CSR Test, Assembly & Packaging Index (TAPI) is a dedicated backend test, assembly and packaging stock performance tracking tool.
As shown, it has been a very rough three years since January 2001 for most companies in the business.
We don't anticipate that the CSR TAPI will be a perfect indicator of future trends; yet, it shows the market direction and may yield clues to its future.
Our baseline reference reflects 14 representative stock values dating from January 2001. As of the end of July 2003, the TAPI Index had recovered slightly from January 2003.
For the latest TAPI Index, visit our web site at www.chipscalereview.com.
Please send any comments to Terry Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IBM, Infineon Integrate Magnetic Memory into a Logic Base
|An image of the layers on an MRAM storage device (IBM Corp.)
Kyoto, Japan-IBM and Infineon Tech-nologies AG have developed advanced magnetic random access memory (MRAM) technology that integrates magnetic memory into a high-performance logic base.
Commercialization of the technology, fabricated with an 0.18 micron logic-based process technology, is possible as early as 2005.
By employing magnetic charges to store data, MRAM technology could improve portable products by storing more information, accessing it faster and with less power.
|EV Group's hot embosser
MRAM offers the low-cost storage capacity of DRAM technology, the speed of SRAMs and the non-volatility of flash memory. Since MRAMs retain information when power is off, products using MRAMs will start instantly.
"MRAM has the potential to become the universal memory technology of the future," according to Dr. T.C. Chen, IBM Research vice president of science and technology. [ibm.com]
Europe's CEA-LETI Selects EV Group's Hot Embosser
Grenoble, France-EV Group says it has successfully installed a 200mm hot embossing and nano-imprinting system, model EVG520HE, at CEA-LETI, a laboratory operated by the French Atomic Energy Commission.
The system will be used in a collaboration between CEA-LETI and CNRS-LTM, the laboratory for Microelectronics Tech-nologies, for micro- and nanotechnology research in biochip and microfluidic devices. [evgroup.at]
Speedline Slates China for Some Stencil Printer Production
Franklin, Mass.-Cookson Electronics Equipment (Speedline Technologies) has struck a deal with MMI Systems Pte Ltd. to manufacture some MPM stencil printers in the Suzhou Industrial Park in Shanghai, China. MMI will make the MPM Accuflex and Microflex to customer configurations. [cooksonelectronics.com]
China's IC Consumption Growing 20% Yearly
New York-Global Sources Ltd. predicts that China's demand for IC technology will grow at 20.3 percent yearly between 2003 and 2005.
This year China's manufacturers will consume some 41.1 billion ICs valued at $30 billion, with 95 percent of that value composed of imported technology, according to Electronics Industry Outlook: China. The report is jointly published by EE Times-China and EBN-China.
Key report findings show a moderate shift in demand toward locally produced ICs. Imported technology, says Global Sources, will account for 84 percent of the total volume of China's IC demand in 2003, down from 85 percent last year.
China's overall IC consumption, however, is expected to increase 23 percent this year, with the strongest demand stemming from the computer, communications and consumer electronics sectors.
Consumption in consumer electonics alone will increase 12 percent year over year to reach 13.5 billion ICs, followed by computer products and communications, which are forecast to grow 11 and 16 percent respectively.
MacRaild Promoted to GM for DEK's Process Support
Flemington, N.J.-Neil MacRaild has been promoted to general manager for DEK's process support products in the Americas. He reports to Richard Bramham, global PSP manager.
MacRaild, who will be based in San Jose, was previously the company's manager of semiconductor packaging technologies. In his new post, he is responsible for tooling, stencils, consumables and upgrades in support of DEK's installed equipment in the Western Hemisphere. [dek.com]
Chip Scale Review Lowers International Subscription Fees
Chip Scale Review has lowered its foreign and non-qualified subscription rates. Effective immediately, Canadian rates have been reduced from $100 to $60/year. All other international rates have been lowered to $60 from $120. U.S. non-qualified rates have decreased from $80 to $40. Subscriptions for qualified subscribers in the U.S. remain gratis. [chipscalereview.com]
|The orange customs gate marks the entrance to the free trade zone near Amkor's Waigaoqiao, China, facility.
Amkor, UTAC Ink China Turnkey Alliance
Chandler, Ariz.-Amkor Technology Inc. has signed a business alliance with the United Test and Assembly Center (UTAC), Singapore, aimed at forging turnkey IC assembly and test for the Chinese market.
The alliance calls for UTAC Shanghai Co. Ltd. to locate its China test center within Amkor's existing Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone plant in Shanghai. The test center will be equipped with multiple test platforms including the Agilent 93K, Teradyne J750 and Advantest 5581.
The center will offer wafer probe, burn-in, final test and all related backend services.
"Chip companies operating in China are increasing their design and manufacturing competencies while also striving to reduce time to market," according to Amkor's president, John Boruch. The alliance is targeting China-based wafer foundries and IDMs. [amkor.com]
Universal Instruments Sets Price Reductions
Binghamton, N.Y.-Universal Instruments has reduced prices "across the board" for its surface-mount products and has standardized global pricing.
Key to the new pricing structure, Universal says, is its policy to pass on cost reduction dividends to customers. [uiconline.com]
Intel Corp. Plans Western China Facility
Chengdu, China-Intel Corp. will invest some $375 million over time to build an assembly and test facility in China's western Sichuan Province. Craig Barrett, Intel's CEO, announced the plans on a sweep of Asia recently. Intel currently operates an assembly and test facility in Shanghai, eastern China.
Barrett said Intel will initially invest $200 million for the Chengdu plant which will employ about 674 people. The microprocessor giant anticipates a second phase investment of $175 million and significantly more employees "over a period of time." Construction is slated to begin during the first half of next year, with the plant becoming operational in 2005. [intel.com]
ASAT Completes Phase 1 of China Plant
Dongguan, China-ASAT has completed "Phase 1" of its China-based manufacturing plant. The plant is located 104 km (65 miles) north of Hong Kong and measures 20,903 square meters.
Hays Joins Unitive Inc. as New Vice President-Sales, Marketing
Research Triangle Park, N.C.-David A. Hays has joined Unitive Inc. as vice president of sales and marketing, reporting to Ken Donahue, president.
A veteran of the semiconductor industry, Hays was most recently director of North American sales for Semitool, Kalispell, Mont.
He earlier worked in technical sales for Hewlett Packard, Intergraph Corp. and Teradyne.
Hays is a native of Indianapolis, Ind., and earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University. [unitive.com]
|George W. Chamillard
Chamillard Named SEMI Chairman
San Francisco-SEMI, San Jose, has announced the election of George W. Chamillard, chairman and CEO of Teradyne Inc., as chairman of SEMI's board of directors. He succeeds Arthur W. Zafiropoulo, chairman and CEO of Ultratech Inc. The appointment was disclosed during SEMICON West. [semi.org]
F&K Delvotec Exec Sawyer Named Western Regional Mgr.
Cupertino, Calif.-Trevor Sawyer of F&K Delvotec has been elevated to western regional manager from northwest regional manager and given expanded responsibilities. [fkdelvotec.de]
John "Jack" Balde Succumbs at 80 After Lengthy Illness
Flemington, N.J.-Memorial services were held recently for John W.M. "Jack" Balde, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. Mr. Balde succumbed at 80 on September 9, after a lengthy illness.
An internationally known packaging expert, Mr. Balde was an IEEE and IMAPS fellow, an author and frequent speaker. He is survived by his wife, Betty; two daughters, a son and grandchildren.
It's Official: Batinovich Acquires IPAC
San Jose-As reported exclusively in Chip Scale Review's August issue, Victor Batinovich has acquired OSE-USA, the company he co-founded in 1993 as the Integrated Packaging and Assembly Corp. (IPAC).
|Martin Paul appears ready to rock for IPAC. Paul, the former IPAC vice president of sales, will return to the company in a similar post. In his leisure time, Paul is a drummer for Betty and the Barneys, a rock 'n' roll band.
Sale terms were not disclosed. Batinovich, chairman and CEO of start-up Advanced Interconnect Solutions, now becomes CEO, president and chairman of his former company. Money for the purchase, Batinovich told Chip Scale Review, is largely his own.
Seller OSE, the Taiwan-based IC packaging foundry that bought IPAC and has returned it to Batinovich in the sale will retain an office on the premises to handle their U.S. distribution and sales. OSE, however, retained no equity in the firm, according to Batinovich.
Batinovich plans to bring several of his key aides back to help him run the company, he told Chip Scale Review recently.
Aspen Technologies Becomes First Domestic Max�m User
Colorado Springs, Colo.-Aspen Tech-nologies says it has become the first onshore IC packaging foundry to acquire Kulicke & Soffa's Maxµm high-speed ball bonder.
With the addition of the unit, Aspen says it can deliver ultra-fine-pitch capability to 45µm with 35µm pitch "around the corner." [aspentechnologies.net]
ChipMOS Signs A&T Pact
Hsinchu, Taiwan-ChipMOS Technologies Inc. has signed an agreement to provide wafer test and IC assembly and test services for Renesas, Japan.
Renesas is the entity created from the merger of the semiconductor divisions of Hitachi Ltd. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. [chipmos.com.tw] [renesas.com]
More on the Metric System
I fully agree with your comments on metric conversion published in the July issue of Chip Scale Review!
Your article didn't mention the errors (misunderstandings, rounding errors, mistakes that are not detected, etc.) that are introduced by using two units of measurement within the same product.
What conversion factor is used and where do the rounding errors go? Are assembly machines programmed in metric or imperial units? Which units are used for communication? Both?
Based on the issues that you mentioned, as well as the errors described above, Qualcomm initiated a program at the beginning of 2003 which requires our package assembly subcontractors to use only metric units for Qualcomm-related business. Dual dimensioning is not allowed.
The changeover date is flexible, but it is our expectation that our suppliers should be able to comply with this requirement by the middle of 2004. The program is focused on newer packages such as FBGA, CSP, BCC and QFN.
We feel strongly that our metrics program will result in lower costs as well as higher quality. A key question for all of us is how can we accelerate our industry's convergence on a single unit of measurement? Going back to imperial units is not likely; the full use of metric units seems like the only reasonable approach.
Tom Gregorich [email@example.com]
Senior Director, IC Package Engineering
Qualcomm CDMA Technologies
|Tamarack's Model 336 full-field projection scanner
Comparing Steppers to Aligners: Another Technology
I enjoyed the article in the July issue, "Steppers Battle Aligners for the Hearts and Cash of Wafer-Bumping Providers." However, you are missing one very important technology: projection scanning for wafer bumping.
Two years ago, Tamarack [tamsci.com] introduced projection scanning lithography as an improved method for wafer bumping. Typically, projection steppers and mask aligners have dominated wafer bumping production, both of which Tamarack also manufactures.
However, we found we could greatly improve the throughput and reduce the cost of manufacturing with the development of a full-field projection scanner specifically designed for this process.
Projection scanning was developed by Tamarack about eight years ago for the display industry to make FPDs.
Using our experience in making steppers (since 1985), and mask aligners (since 1979), we re-invented our projection scanner for wafer bumping, taking the thoroughput advantage of a mask aligner and the yield advantage of a stepper and combining the two to offer the best of both tools for what is now our Model 336 wafer-bumping tool.
This system is designed to offer imaging of both 200mm and 300mm wafers on a single tool.
Tamarack's model 336 provides high aspect ratio imaging due to a large depth-of-focus lens and is suitable for gold, solder and copper bumping. Our first two systems have been installed at a well-known 300mm fab.
Compared to a stepper, Tamarack's model 336 offers:
1. Higher throughput
2. The use of a single mask per layer, with no need for stitching and special edge operations for the edge ring used in subsequent plating processes
3. Less complex, thus less expensive than a stepper
4. Larger depth-of-focus, ideal for thick resist imaging
Compared to a proximity aligner, Tama-rack's model 336 offers:
1. Much higher intensity
2. Better focus flexibility for CD and wall-angle control
3. Higher yields as the wafer never makes contact with the mask
4. The ability to protect the mask with the use of pellicles
5. The selection of specific wavelengths within 350-450nm range and lens NA for more flexibility in process optimization.
We feel your readers should be aware of other technologies, especially those priced between the cost of steppers and mask aligners. In addition, with resists getting thicker and thicker and the high depth of focus offered by projection scanning, this will be an important technology for both current and future wafer-bumping requirements.
Matt Souter [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sales Engineer, Tamarack Scientific
Metric System vs. Imperial Measurements
I am writing this from India. As a foreigner, I do agree with what you say (July "Trendlines"). I handle software projects for U.S. clients, and I find grappling with two systems hugely impractical.
It's hard to say whose fault it is, but we in India have no clue about the imperial system of measurement, as we never learned it in school at all. At the same time, we can use material downloaded from the Internet, but that doesn't give us a practical feel for the system.
This is causing huge confusion in projects. For example, my college here assumed that "degrees" referred to degrees Celsius-only to goof things up until it was too late!
Again, I love American TV programs on science, and strongly recommend them to my children, but some measurements described are confusing.
I can honestly hope that the U.S. switches over to the metric system. In all other respects, the U.S. is one country that I really admire.
...India, too, must abandon its number system. Maybe you are not aware of this, but the traditional Indian number system uses "Lakhs" (100,000) and "Crores" (10,000,000) instead of millions and billions. This (system) has been a failure here, too, as it intimidates foreigners.
I recommend: devise a strategy. Set out a timeframe. Entrust an agency with the task and give it authority to implement. Do it slowly, one step at a time. Never force things down people's throats-it will only put them off.
Sujay Rao [email@example.com]
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.