Makers of semiconductormanufacturing equipment are confronting a slight drop in capital-equipment purchases. But indications are that they are prepared for the slowdown.

"We're looking at a 5% decline in purchases compared to last year, but we expected this," explains Dan Tracy, senior director of industry research and statistics for SEMI. "We recognize that bookings peaked late last year and have flattened out. But we expect to see some improvement in bookings going forward."

One reason for continued strength in the area is that the conversion to 300-mm fabrication lines is going strong, notes Tracy.

Such trends are likely to be evident as Semicon West, the premier North American show for semiconductor manufacturing equipment, kicks off in San Francisco's Moscone Center July 11. Of note is that this year's exhibition combines front-end and back-end processing exhibits in one area, thanks to a recent expansion of the Moscone facilities. Back-end processing exhibits traditionally have been hosted in San Jose.

The show this year features more than 1,400 companies from 24 countries displaying equipment for manufacturing semiconductors, flat-panel displays, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and nanotechnology. These products, services, and emerging technologies will be in the North, South and Gateway Halls of the Moscone Center, and the new Moscone West building.

New to this year's show is the Emerging Technologies Hall. It holds exhibits pertaining to nanotechnology, e-manufacturing, electronic design automation (EDA), and MEMS innovations. The ETH also hosts the Technology Innovation Showcase that will be highlighted by 22 jury-selected presentations on emerging and potentially disruptive technologies. In addition, visitors to the hall will be able to see examples of MEMS technology and automotive innovation in the latest Nissan 350Z and Electronic Design Automation with the Hummer H2. Other attractions include a WiFi hotspot complete with a Cafè and Lounge and an "Emerging Technologies Stage" serving as a free educational forum where technical presentations from industry experts will cover topics such as critical emerging technologies issues in the industry.

The Semicon West opening ceremony on Tuesday features keynotes by Tim Eckersley, Sr. Vice President, Customer and Market Operations, Nokia Americas. Also speaking Tuesday is Dr. Tien Wu, President, Americas and Europe; Worldwide Marketing & Sales, ASE (U.S.) Inc. Attendees on Wednesday can hear Dr. Bernard S. Meyerson, IBM Fellow, Vice President and Chief Technologist, IBM Systems and Technology Group, speaking on the impact of Moore's Law on power density. On Thursday, Dr. Robert R. Doering, Cochair, International Roadmap Committee (U.S.) and Sr. Fellow, Silicon Technology Development, Texas Instruments, will talk on the ITRS roadmap of needs and challenges facing the semiconductor industry over the next 15 years.

Semicon West attendees can attend executive panel forums billed as giving face-to-face, vendor-neutral interactions that could solve real manufacturing challenges. A forum session on Changing Business Paradigms in Semiconductor-Manufacturing features a panel composed of Aki Fujimura, Chief Technical Officer, Cadence Design Systems; Kevin Meyer, Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Chartered Semiconductor; Thomas Sonderman, Director of Automated Precision Manufacturing, AMD Semiconductor; and James Fusaro, Corporate Vice President, Product Management, Amkor Technology.

Another panel forum on Thursday covers the challenges and opportunities posed by the ITRS technology roadmap. Panel members include Chris Sparkes, CTO, Nikon Precision; Nick Bright, Senior Vice President Global Products, Lam Research; Dan Hutchinson, President, VLSI Research; Art Katsaros, Group Vice President Development and Technology, Air Products; and Mark Jagiela, President, Semiconductor Test Division, Teradyne.

Finally, another panel session covers the economic outlook for semiconductormanufacturing equipment. Participants include Richard S. Hill, Chairman and CEO, Novellus Systems Inc.; Tim Arcuri, Director, US Equity Research, Citigroup; Jim Covello, Goldman Sachs; Jay Deahna, Research Analyst, JP Morgan; Mark Fitzgerald, Managing Director; Sr. Research Analyst, Bank of America; Brett Hodess, Managing Director, Merrill Lynch; and John Pitzer, Director, CSFB.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to attend professional development courses running throughout the week. Topics include Recent Advancements in Sensor/Actuator Network Standards; Advanced Packaging Technology Solutions for Today's Leading-Edge Microelectronics; Fundamentals of Wet and Dry Etch; Design, Materials, Process, and Reliability of Lead-Free Packaging and Assembly; Fundamentals of Thermal Processes; and Developing and Implementing Intellectual Property Strategies in the Semiconductor Industry.

Registration information for Semicon West is available on the SEMI home page at semi.org.