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Report: Samsung hogs ASML litho supply chain

Posted: 15 Feb 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:lithography? 193nm scanner? DRAM?

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd is on its way to boost capital spending amid the IC recovery. In the process, Samsung is also procuring a slew of 193nm scanners from ASML Holding NV of the Netherlands. In fact, the chipmaker is hogging the supply chain for ASML systems.

That's good news for Samsung, but bad news for its memory rivals that use ASML's tools, such as Elpida, Hynix, IM Flash, Micron, Nanya and others. NAND rival Toshiba Corp. is said to use scanners from Nikon Corp.

But there are also implications for Chartered/GlobalFoundries, TSMC and UMC, which also rely on ASML tools.

"Samsung is locking up equipment loading slots (particularly for immersion), delaying equipment deliveries to other players. The broad implication here is that lead times for immersion tools will likely continue to extend, putting pressure on tier-two DRAM players," said C.J. Muse, an analyst with Barclays Capital, in a report.

"Clearly, a part of Samsung's plan is to get a first mover advantage by locking up loading slotsparticularly for immersion. All along we have modeled Samsung getting shipped 25 immersion tools in 2010, including 24 from ASML and 1 from Nikon. We understand more than 65 percent of these tools have been ordered with shipment delivery expected in 1H10," Muse said.

Samsung is procuring ASML's new 193nm immersion tool, dubbed the NXT. "Our view continues to be that Samsung has been aggressively locking up ASML NXT slots and that they will come back in Q2 10 and place more orders (particularly for the NXT)," Muse said.

"The broad implication here is that lead times for immersion tools will likely continue to extend, putting pressure, in particular, on tier-two DRAM players. It is here where we expect more meaningful immersion orders over the coming quarters (we understand Elpida and Hynix are placing orders in Q1 10) and that this should provide increased visibility to other front-end equipment companies for their shipments through the remainder of 2010," he said.

The losers in the lithography world? "Our checks suggest that a two- to three-month slip has slowly materialized for Nanya/Inotera and Rexchip's litho tool schedule," he said, referring to the Taiwan DRAM makers.

Taiwan's Inotera has a DRAM joint partnership with Micron Technology Inc. Taiwan's Rexchip is a DRAM venture between Japan's Elpida and Powerchip Semiconductor Corp.

"We think that Samsung is not oblivious to the fact that given ASML has a finite capacity, its capacity to consume NXT litho tools for its build-out has very real consequences to the profitability of DRAM players which are not yet at 50nm or sub-50nm nodes," he said.

"In NAND, the picture is slightly complex, where IM Flash has captured the lead in the race to the 2Xnm node, with Samsung and Toshiba right behind and with Hynix in the rear, just managing to enter the 3Xnm node," he said.

"However, Samsung and Micron both play in the DRAM as well as NAND market, and therefore a delay of Nanya/ Inotera conversion means that DRAM manufacture cannot be offloaded to Nanya/ Inotera and Micron's Manassas, Virginia and Lehi, Utah fabs' capacity cannot be fully dedicated to NAND," he said. "This also, in a sense delays additionally capacity being built in IMF-Singapore."

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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