The SPIE Advanced Lithography conference begins with one word on everyone’s mind: coronavirus. I am fairly certain that the actual impact of coronavirus on the conference will be zero, but the impact of fear of the coronavirus is large. Many Asian companies have either decided not to send anyone, or are sending very few people. From Taiwan, I have heard that Winbond is the only semiconductor company sending people. From Korea, Samsung is sending maybe only one person. Last week Intel decided to dramatically reduce the number of people they are sending. This has a snowball effect, as many vendors seeing that their customers will not be there are also reducing their presence. On Sunday, KLA and Nikon both canceled their major events (the KLA Litho Users Forum and the Nikon LithoVison). Several (but not all) Sunday technical meetings have also been canceled. Most of the big companies have canceled their hospitality suites (KLA, TEL, Hitachi, Applied Materials). Of course, health concerns are the stated reason for the cancellations, but I think cold, hard cash is the real reason. Why spend a huge amount of money on an event when hardly any of your customers are going to be there? Not to worry – Fractilia’s Happy Hour will go on as planned!
As the week goes on, I’m sure we’ll all understand better how the coronavirus scare will impact the technical events, especially cancelled papers. As for SPIE, every event of the conference will go on as planned. While the conference may be smaller than expected, I am still expecting it to be a good one.