The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Intel’s watch recall; MRAM; BCD process; NIWeek; CapEx boom?


The wearables market has taken another hit. Intel has issued a safety recall for a smartwatch line from its Basis Science subsidiary. “We are issuing this safety recall of the Basis Peak watch because the watch can overheat, which could result in burns or blisters on the skin surface. It is important that you stop using your watch immediately and return it. Although we are stopping support for Basis Peak immediately, you can access your data until December 31, 2016. After that date, the Basis Peak services will be turned off. Once we shut down the services, your watch will no longer be able to sync, which will cause it to stop working,” said Josh Walden, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s New Technology Group, in a blog. “On behalf of the Basis Science team, I want to personally apologize for this situation. We know that many of you love using your Basis Peak watches and have made it part of your daily lives, and we are very sorry for the disruption this will cause you.”

Samsung has rolled out its latest smartphone–the Galaxy Note7. The phone consists of Samsung’s Octa Core application processor, based on its 14nm finFET process.

Everspin Technologies has strengthened its leadership position in MRAM. It is shipping the world’s first product using perpendicular magnetic tunnel junction (pMTJ) based ST-MRAM to customers. This is a 256-Mbit DDR3 product. It is made on a foundry basis by GlobalFoundries.

United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) has verified its 0.18-micron bipolar-CMOS-DMOS (BCD) process. This is for the most stringent AEC Q100 grade-0 for automotive ICs. The process is ready for mass production. In addition, Faraday Technology, an ASIC design service and IP provider, has announced the availability of its 12.5Gbps programmable SerDes PHY IP on UMC’s 28HPCU process technology.

Test and measurement
At this week’s NIWeek, National Instruments (NI) rolled out new capabilities for its automatic test equipment (ATE). NI has added more digital capabilities for the PXI standard. For this, NI has introduced the NI PXIe-6570 digital pattern instrument and NI Digital Pattern Editor. In addition, NI rolled out the NI PXIe-4135 source measure unit (SMU) for its ATE systems.

On the communications front, NI also rolled out an early access technology platform for Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) technology. NI is collaborating with Cisco in the effort. Meanwhile, NI also announced the world’s first “MIMO Application Framework.” When paired with NI’s software defined radio hardware, this software reference design enables researchers to build both traditional MIMO and massive MIMO prototypes.

On top of that, NI announced the LabVIEW 2016 system design software. This empowers engineers to simplify their development times. In addition, NI also announced turnkey HIL Simulators built on an open, modular architecture. This is designed to help automotive and aerospace embedded software developers. And not to be outdone, NI announced the beta release of Multisim Live, a web-based schematic capture and circuit simulation tool powered by SPICE technology.

Skyworks has acquired the remaining 34% interest it did not already own in the filter joint venture it created with Panasonic in 2014. The deal is valued at $76.5 million.

TDK’s subsidiary EPCOS will launch an all-cash public tender offer for all publicly-held shares of MEMS maker Tronics for a price of 13.20 euros per share. “One of TDK’s priority strategies is business growth in the field of sensors; through the acquisition of Tronics, TDK would be able to further broaden its portfolio of cutting-edge sensor technologies,” according to TDK.

Market research
Semiconductor capital spending is gloomy this year. In total, IC Insights forecasts that semiconductor industrycapital spending will increase by only 3% this year after declining by 2% in 2015. “However, driven by the top three spenders—Samsung, TSMC, and Intel—capital spending in 2016 is expected to be heavily skewed toward the second half of this year,” according to the firm.

Related Stories
Prior Week In Review: Manufacturing (July 29)
Lam-KLA update; GF foundry deal; Lam, NI, Samsung and UMC post results.
Manufacturing Research Bits (Aug 2)
CMP replacement?; nano-vise; MEMS/photonics packaging.