The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Wafer inspection; vectors; wireless initiative; forecasts.


Fab and test equipment
The wafer inspection market is heating up. For example, Applied Materials announced its new e-beam inspection system for use in foundry, logic, DRAM and 3D NAND applications.

In addition, KLA-Tencor introduced six wafer defect inspection and review systems for leading-edge IC device manufacturing.

National Instruments has rolled out a second-generation vector signal transceiver (VST). The NI PXIe-5840 module is the world’s first 1 GHz bandwidth VST. It is designed for RF design and test applications.

EV Group has introduced the EVG50 automated metrology system. Designed for advanced packaging, MEMS and photonics applications, the EVG50 performs high-resolution non-destructive multi-layer thickness and topography measurement, as well as void detection, in bonded wafer stacks and in photoresists used in optical lithography. In addition, EV Group introduced new capabilities on the EVG ComBond automated high-vacuum wafer bonding platform specifically designed to support high-volume manufacturing (HVM) of advanced MEMS devices.

EAG has combined its 11 market brands under a singular entity called EAG Laboratories. Following multiple acquisitions in recent years, the move is designed to bring together broad capabilities in the materials, engineering and life science sectors. “Over the last decade, EAG has quietly added capabilities through complementary acquisitions and service line expansions in the high-growth contract research and testing space,” said Siddhartha Kadia, president and CEO of EAG Laboratories. “By unifying multidisciplinary expertise under one brand, we simplify delivery of our services to enhance our customer relationships.”

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that it will invest more than $400 million over the next seven years to support fundamental wireless research and to develop platforms for advanced wireless research in support of the White House’s Advanced Wireless Research Initiative in the United States. As a part of this investment, NSF also announces a $5 million solicitation for a project office to manage the design, development, deployment, and operations of the testing platforms, in collaboration with NSF and industry entities. Intel, National Instruments, Samsung and others will participate in various programs.

Microchip, through its Silicon Storage Technology (SST) subsidiary, has announced the availability of SST’s non-volatile memory on GlobalFoundries’ 130nm BCDLite technology platform.

Toshiba and Western Digital celebrated the opening of the New Fab 2 semiconductor fabrication facility located in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, Japan. The New Fab 2 facility will support the conversion of the companies’ 2D NAND capacity to 3D flash memory, allowing realization of solutions offering higher densities and better device performance.

Unisem recently shipped its one billionth packaged MEMS device. The company continues to invest CapEx in both MEMS assembly equipment and the development of additional factory floor space for this expanding market.

Cree has announced an execution of a definitive agreement to sell its Wolfspeed Power and RF division, which includes the silicon carbide substrate business for power and RF applications, to Infineon for $850 million in cash.

Reno Sub-Systems, a developer of high-performance radio frequency (RF) matching networks, RF power generators and gas flow management systems for semiconductor manufacturing, has closed its Series B funding round of $14 million led by MKS Instruments.

Market research and personnel
TSMC has raised its capital spending budget from $9 billion to $10 billion to $9.5 billion to $10.5 billion.

SEMI forecasts that the total semiconductor equipment market will grow 1% in 2016, reaching $36.9 billion. The market fell 3% in 2015. An increase of 11% is expected in 2017.

SEMI announced that Jon Kemp, president of DuPont Electronics & Communications, and Tadahiro Suhara, president of Screen Semiconductor Solutions, were elected as new directors to SEMI’s international board of directors.