Chinese wafer firms battling foreign rivals, a high profile visit by Michael Dell of Dell Inc, brand new electronics gases plant finally unveiled and major gas companies presenting some sparkling new technology to their electronics industry customers China\\$quot;s annual Semicon show had it all

Launched in 1988, Semicon China has grown to include this year more than 1100 exhibiting companies from 19 countries, and occupy more than 16,000 m3 of space in four giant halls in Shanghai\\$quot;s New International Expo Centre. Attendance figures have not been released at the time of writing, but Mark Ding, president of SEMI China was confident that there would be new records set for both Chinese and overseas visitors.

Talking points
The talking point of this year\\$quot;s show was the increased presence of big-ticket Chinese companies, in particular made-to-order chipmakers, including Hua Hong NEC, Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp (ASMC) and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC).

Hua Hong\\$quot;s 12-inch wafer plant, the first in Shanghai, will start operation by the end of 2006 and its monthly capacity will be 20,000 units, according to Carolina Ng, senior sales manager of the company. \\$quot;We already have capacity to produce 50,000 wafers per month of various grades and sizes.\\$quot;

ASMC also has plans to expand capacity beyond its 3-Fab 100,000 wafer monthly installed capacity.

SMIC on the other hand plans a 24 per cent growth in investment this year, to more than $1bn, mostly connected to memory chips. The company said: \\$quot;At present we have 3 x 8-inch wafer foundries in Shanghai, one in Tianjin and a 12-inch Fab in Beijing, which was China\\$quot;s first when it opened in 2004. In addition we have a very impressive assembly and packaging facility in Chengdu, western China.\\$quot;

Impressed with the development of the mainland Chinese firms and conscious of the need to compete, the worlds largest \\$quot;˜chip-foundry\\$quot;

TSMC, from the Province of Taiwan, is pressing its authorities to ease restrictions on investment in latest generation semiconductor plants on the mainland as soon as possible. \\$quot;TSMC wants to invest in 0.18 micron manufacturing facilities near Shanghai,\\$quot; informed TSMC\\$quot;s chairman, Morris Chang.

International gases manufacturers
With all the headline activity from the \\$quot;˜locals\\$quot; it was hardly surprising to find the international gases manufacturers, large and small, pitching in for a share of the action.

Leading the charge was Air Products whose stand was in pole position at the main entrance to hall three where all the gas companies were conveniently located.

Scott Tang, a business development manager, commented that they had been busy for every minute since the opening and regarded Semicon China as a main plank of their marketing activity. The company\\$quot;s slogan \\$quot;˜tell me more\\$quot; certainly seemed to be working as the large and multinational booth teams were kept constantly busy fielding enquiries for meetings from enthusiastic participants.

Air Products also hosted a number of technical seminars, many of which were fully subscribed.

Praxair\\$quot;s stand was only several metres away from Air Products and the company had made again the investment in both size and location. The stand attracted a stream of attendees, most of whom were fascinated by the \\$quot;˜UpTime\\$quot; sub-atmospheric dopant delivery system for ion implant. As the photograph shows Praxair are presenting yet another ingenious and well-timed gas/engineering solution to their electronics customers.

\\$quot;Semicon China was hailed as a big success.\\$quot;

\\$quot;Praxair has electronics gases facilities on China\\$quot;s mainland, in the province of Taiwan, Korea and Japan and has carved out a share of the business that we hope to protect by our technologically advanced gas delivery systems, said Y. T. Hwang, Praxair general manager.

Sue Sun, account manager of Semiconductor Materials, continued: \\$quot;I am delighted with the response at Semicon China and I wish the event lasted at least one more day so that we could meet more people.\\$quot;

Air Liquide, who was celebrating 15 years in Shanghai, were focussing this year on their ALOHA product range. The range, which is not associated with Hawaii, is a series of advanced CVD and ALD precursors in four main groups. The company also had an impressive audio-visual presentation describing their extensive Shanghai based distribution capabilities, which aim to deliver a fully integrated speciality gas supply service, \\$quot;˜jumbo\\$quot;, to the point of use.

BOC Edwards focussed on vacuum equipment///

Linde was naturally focussing on their recently opened Electronic & Specialty Gases facility in Suzhou. The delayed commissioning of the facility has nevertheless been applauded by potential customers who saw Linde\\$quot;s reputation for high level engineering as a big plus.

Operations manager Steve Lovatt and engineering manager Kelly McDonald who have been the central figures in China during the planning, building and commissioning of the plant were both enthusiastic about the world-class capabilities that they can now offer to Chinese and regional customers.

Joe Shi, product manager, was confident that he and his commercial colleagues can now make up for a certain amount of lost time and make inroads into the market. \\$quot;The plant has capabilities in transfilling silane, ammonia, chlorine and other chemical gases. There are five analytical laboratories and the company provides an emergency response service. Future plans are to offer gas cabinets and other engineering items,\\$quot; he said.

Linde\\$quot;s recent acquisition target BOC, which has extensive facilities in China, was focussing as usual on its Edwards range of equipment. BOC was also parading N8.0 (99.999999% pure) nitrogen and ultra-high purity ammonia, which it makes in the region.

Electronics industry
The electronics industry presents opportunities for niche manufacturers and suppliers. This year the show saw several companies who came to meet both customers and suppliers. Also at least two regional specialists had stands.

ATTO of Korea, which manufactures high-purity ammonia, nitrous oxide and SF6 and also has an extensive business in gas cabinet manufacture, was exhibiting along with its Chinese distributor, Gentec

Taylor Jeon, manager of Quality Assurance at ATTO enjoys meeting with fellow niche producer Lawrence Law of Hong Kong Specialty Gases///

Hong Kong Specialty Gases (HKSG) had made the big jump to exhibit in its own stand. According to manager Lawrence Law this is because it sees opportunities for a flexible, fast response local supplier even in an industry often considered to be dominated by the multinationals. Many visitors to the HKSG stand had asked for follow-up meetings and Mr Law considered that the investment in Semicon China had been well worthwhile.

One of Britain\\$quot;s leading-edge technology companies, the multi Queen\\$quot;s Award winner Epichem, was represented by Shufan Cheng, regional manager based in Shanghai. Ms Cheng was very complimentary about the organisation of Semicon China and said that the site location and facilities made it easy to meet Epichem\\$quot;s extensive range of customers. She continued: \\$quot;Epichem established its China office in 2003 and has recently added a bonded warehouse and recruited additional staff to handle the fast growing regional market for its semiconductor grade products.\\$quot;

Equipment manufacturers also made an appearance in the show. The most notable was
US-based Rotarex, which had a large contingent of staff to handle the show. Mr Eric Guan, UHP sales executive, said: \\$quot;We manufacture and source components in China as well as supply top-of-the-range items from their European plants so we have a unique position that gives us considerable advantages.\\$quot;

As the tired but happy exhibitors and attendees sped to the airport, or made their way to immerse themselves in the delights of Shanghai, Semicon China was hailed as a big success. Most people liked the new organisation, which grouped exhibitors by products, and everyone liked the polite and efficient Expo Centre staff who ensured the smooth and safe running of the whole event.

Semicon China 2007 will run 21-23 March 2007