The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Changes in IC rankings; Applied results; WLAN testing; IoT Russia.


IC Insights released its top chip makers in terms of sales for the first quarter of 2016. The top-20 ranking includes three pure-play foundries (TSMC, GlobalFoundries, and UMC) and six fabless companies. Intel remained in the top spot, followed in order by Samsung and TSMC. The biggest movers in the ranking were made by the new Broadcom (Avago/Broadcom) and Nvidia. Broadcom jumped from seventh to fourth place in the rankings.

In IC Insight’s rankings, Apple was in 15th place. “Apple is an anomaly in the top-20 ranking with regards to major semiconductor suppliers,” according to IC Insights. “The company designs and uses its processors only in its own products—there are no sales of the company’s MPUs to other system makers. Apple’s custom ARM-based SoC processors had a ‘sales value’ of $1.390 billion in 1Q16, up 10% from $1.260 billion in 1Q15. Apple’s custom processors—such as the 64-bit A9 used in iPhone 6s and 6s Plus handsets introduced in September 2015 and the new iPhone 6SE launched in March 2016—are made by pure-play foundry TSMC and IDM foundry Samsung.”

As seen above, IC Insights lists the foundry vendors on its IC rankings. “If the three pure-play foundries were excluded from the top-20 ranking, U.S.-based IDM ON Semiconductor ($817 million), China-based fabless supplier HiSilicon ($810 million), and Japan-based IDM Sharp ($800 million) would have been ranked in the 18th, 19th, and 20th positions, respectively,” according to the firm.

Synopsys announced that the company’s Custom Compiler tool has been enabled by Samsung for 14nm LPP and LPC finFET production.

Fab tools
Applied Materials reported its results for the second quarter of fiscal 2016, along with its business outlook. Second quarter orders were $3.45 billion, up 52% sequentially and up 37% year over year. Backlog increased to $4.17 billion. Net sales of $2.45 billion were up 9% sequentially, flat year over year, and near the high end of guidance. “Applied Materials posted a FQ2 beat and delivered even stronger FQ3 (July) guidance, well above our and consensus estimates. Orders jumped 52% q/q, led by a surge in 3D NAND and OLED display orders, and its near-record backlog suggests that revenue should remain high beyond FQ3. NAND customers are aggressively ramping 3D NAND capacity (it has very high exposure), while display demand is being driven by new OLED capacity for smartphones,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities, in a report.

Late last week, Lam Research and KLA-Tencor confirmed that they each received a request for additional information from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in connection with the proposed merger between the companies. The companies are working with the staff of the DOJ on the terms of a consent decree. So what’s the holdup? “The deal is now expected to close in Q3 rather than the previous expectation of June or July, plus or minus a couple of months,” Twigg said in a separate report. “We suspect that there is concern by the DOJ that Lam could restrict the sale of KLA-Tencor equipment to only customers who buy process equipment from Lam. While Lam has expressly stated that this will not be the case, the DOJ likely wants to see this supervised under a consent decree.”

The opening keynote at the SEMI Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Conference (ASMC) emphasized the transformations in manufacturing. According to a SEMI blog, Christine Furstoss, GE’s Global Research vice president and technical director of Manufacturing & Materials Technologies, described the motivations and implications of the new digital age of manufacturing.

National Instruments announced an early access version of the WLAN Measurement Suite with support for the IEEE 802.11ax (draft 0.1) high-efficiency wireless draft standard. The WLAN Measurement Suite, combined with NI’s RF vector signal transceiver (VST), allows engineers to measure the performance of their 802.11ax designs in the presence of new changes to the 802.11 physical layer specification.

OLED equipment maker Kateeva announced that it has closed its Series E funding round with $88 million in new financing. The company has raised $200 million since it was founded in 2008. The new Kateeva investors are: BOE, Cybernaut Venture, GP Capital Shanghai, Redview Capital, and TCL Capital, all located in China. They join existing investors that include: Samsung Venture Investment Corporation (SVIC), Sigma Partners, Spark Capital, Madrone Capital Partners, DBL Partners, New Science Ventures and Veeco.

Market research
The Russian market has turned towards the Internet of Things (IoT) with several projects underway in the nation, according to a blog from Evgeny Suvorov, regional director of Russia and CIS at SEMI.

Worldwide silicon wafer area shipments increased during the first quarter 2016 when compared to fourth quarter 2015 area shipments according to the SEMI Silicon Manufacturers Group (SMG). Total silicon wafer area shipments were 2,538 million square inches during the most recent quarter, a 1.3% increase from the 2,504 million square inches shipped during the previous quarter. However, new quarterly total area shipments are 3.8% lower than first quarter 2015 shipments.