The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Thermo Fisher buys FEI; mask trends; Applied’s tools; GF’s SiGe; Samsung’s IoT; ASE-SPIL deal.


Fab tools
Thermo Fisher Scientific and FEI have announced that their boards of directors have unanimously approved Thermo Fisher’s acquisition of FEI for $107.50 per share in cash. The transaction represents a purchase price of approximately $4.2 billion.

In a video, Aki Fujimura, chief executive of D2S, recaps the emerging mask and lithography trends presented at the recent Photomask Japan event.


Applied Materials has officially rolled out two new tools that address a major problem in transistor performance—contact resistance.

The first system, called the Endura Volta CVD W, is aimed to lower device resistance in middle-of-line applications. The second tool, dubbed the Centura iSprint ALD/CVD SSW, enables a bottom-up tungsten fill for the development of the contacts.

Both systems address the contact, the critical connection between the transistor and the copper interconnects in a device. The contact is a major bottleneck in transistor performance and a yield limiter, said Jonathan Bakke, global product manager at Applied Materials. “Contact resistance is slowing down the transistor,” he said.

To address the problem, Applied’s Endura Volta CVD W provides a metal-organic CVD W (tungsten) film. Generally, tungsten is used in logic contact applications. It has low resistivity and conformal bulk fill characteristics. It is capable of replacing the titanium nitride (TiN) barrier and tungsten nucleation layer in logic contacts. With the new tool, the volume for tungsten bulk fill is increased by threefold. It lowers the contact resistance by up to 90%.

Meanwhile, the Centura iSprint enables a bottom-up tungsten fill process. The tool provides void-free contact trench and via fill over a wide range of critical dimensions and aspect ratios through 10nm logic and assists in the 2D to 3D memory transition.

GlobalFoundries has announced a next-generation radio-frequency (RF) silicon solution for its silicon germanium (SiGe) portfolio. The technology, dubbed SiGe 8XP, offers an improved heterojunction bipolar transistor (HBT) performance with a lower noise figure. It has up to a 25% increase in maximum oscillation frequency (fMAX) to 340GHz, as compared to its predecessor, SiGe 8HP. The technology is optimized for customers who need improved performance solutions for automotive radar, satellite communications, 5G millimeter-wave base stations and other wireless and wireline communication network applications.

Samsung has announced a contract with SK Telecom to deploy the world’s first commercial Internet of Things (IoT)-dedicated network. The network is based on LoRaWAN technology, which uses an unlicensed, public spectrum called the Industrial Scientific and Medical (ISM) frequency band. The network will be deployed across Korea using the 900-MHz frequency band. The commercial service is scheduled to launch in Daegu, Korea’s fourth largest city, next month and will be available nationwide by the middle of this year.

Samsung has announced the availability of the 750 EVO solid-state-drives (SSDs) in 120-GB, 250-GB and a new 500-GB capacity. The 750 EVO SSDs provide mainstream consumers and PC builders with an efficient migration path from hard disk drives (HDDs) or slow performing entry-level SSDs to a faster and more reliable storage solution for every day computer use.

For some time, Taiwan’s Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) has attempted to acquire rival Siliconware Precision Industries (SPIL). The effort was stalled due to regulatory issues. But now, the two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a holding company.

The holding company will simultaneously hold 100% equity interests in both ASE and SPIL. It will be listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange. As parallel sibling companies under the holding company, ASE and SPIL will combine their efforts in various areas.

For now, though, both ASE and SPIL remain independent companies. After the establishment of the holding company, ASE and SPIL will continue to maintain their separate legal entity status, retain their legal entity name, and maintain their current independent operations and operating model. ASE and SPIL will each retain its full management team and employees, and their current organizational structure, compensation, relevant benefits and personnel regulations will continue to remain unchanged.

Market Research
North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted a book-to-bill ratio of 1.10 in April, compared to 1.15 in March, according to SEMI. A book-to-bill of 1.10 means that $110 worth of orders were received for every $100 of product billed for the month.