Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Spooling Up for Semicon

First, a tip of the cap to Howard Lovy. I started this blog last year, then Howard – one of the original editors of Small Times -- took it over for awhile. Now, like tag team wrestling, I’m back in the ring. Howard is “pursuing other interests” as they say. He says in his last NanoBot blog that he’s giving up on social media, but I’m hopeful we’ll see him again.

This week I’m spooling up for Semicon – ya know, like the Gatling Gun has to spool up before you can fire it (blam blam blam). Next week’s Semicon West will be a busy one for our PennWell team, with our colleagues from SST, Photovoltaics World, The ConFab, Advanced Packaging, SMT, Small Times, Laser Focus World and Renewable Energy World out in force. We have a boatload of video interviews lined up, plus podcasts and yes I’ll be “tweeting”. Sign up for Pete's Tweets. I’m also moderating a couple sessions – one Tuesday morning on Opportunities in MEMS and another on thin film PV Thursday morning. Don’t miss ‘em! Standing room only!

Last year, the three big things that had people talking were 1) the state of the industry, 2) the co-located InterSolar show, and 3) 450 mm (or 45 cm as was noted at the SEMI press conference). This year, #1 and #2 are sure to be the hot topics – 45 cm not so much.

At the time, SEMI released a mid-year consensus forecast for the chip equipment industry that indicates that, following a six percent market growth in 2007, the equipment market will decline 20% in 2008, but will experience a rebound with annual growth of 13 percent and six percent in 2009 and 2010, respectively. That was wishful thinking, but good signs abound that the recovery has begun. Bill McClean is still calling for a couple of boom years; he just moved the proverbial hockey stick out to 2010, 2011.

The InterSolar last year had 209 exhibitors, 48 of which are SEMI members. SEMI said there were 251 total Semicon West exhibitors with PV product offerings. The InterSolar show had some good traffic, but a fair amount of the exhibitors were fairly low-tech, including such things as roof mounting brackets. More of the same this year? You bet. I know it’s bigger but don’t have the stats in front of me. Will we see more traditional SEMI exhibitors setting up camp at InterSolar? I expect some, but not a mass exodus.

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