The Week In Review: Manufacturing

SUNY Poly chief resigns amid scandal; fabs; IC/mask forecasts.

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Chipmakers
Alain Kaloyeros, president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, has resigned. This comes amid charges that Kaloyeros was involved in an alleged bid-rigging scheme, according to multiple reports. SUNY Poly, a high-tech educational ecosystem in New York, was recently formed from the merger of the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) and the SUNY Institute of Technology. SUNY Poly is the home of Albany NanoTech, an R&D organization, as well as a number of other R&D efforts in New York. It was once the home of now-defunct Sematech. A number of chipmakers and fab tools vendors are still conducting R&D at Albany Nanotech.

Samsung has begun mass production of the Exynos 7 Dual 7270. It is the first mobile application processor for wearable devices, based on 14nm finFET process technology. It features full connectivity and LTE modem integration.

After recent incidents and in consideration of consumer safety, Samsung has stopped sales, exchanges and production of the Galaxy Note 7. As a result, the company has lowered its earnings guidance for the third quarter.

United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) has announced that its Hsinchu-based Fab 8A has gained Material Flow Cost Accounting (MFCA) verification in accordance with ISO 14051 by DNV GL. This is the first MFCA verified semiconductor fab in Taiwan. This represents UMC’s efforts in green management. The MFCA assessment method exposes the profits hidden in waste and stock and reveals opportunities for waste reduction compared to traditional cost accounting.

Faraday Technology announced the availability of its PowerSlash IP cell on UMC’s 55nm ultra-low-power process (55ULP) technology. The combination of PowerSlash with UMC’s process technology, both engineered for very low-power wireless applications, is optimized to serve wireless Internet of Things (IoT) applications that require extended battery life.

China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new 300mm wafer fab in Shanghai. The fab is designed to meet SMIC’s increasing production needs.

Fab tools
In a video, Aki Fujimura, chief executive of D2S, highlighted the developments at the recent SPIE Photomask conference, sometimes called BACUS. In another video, Brian Grenon provides an analysis of the results of the eBeam Initiative’s second annual Mask Maker survey—including surprising findings on average data volumes, write times and turn-around times. More information can be found here.

Multibeam has announced the expansion of its e-beam patent portfolio. The new patents involve its multi-beam e-beam technology for use in direct-write, inspection and security applications. The first patent, dubbed Direct Deposition (Patent #9,453,281), facilitates patterning of IC layers through accurate deposition of material in accordance with the design layout database. The second patent, dubbed Direct Etch (Patent #9,466,464) allows activation electrons to be directed according to the design layout database.

Market research and personnel news
SEMI has announced the retirement of Dennis McGuirk, SEMI’s president and chief executive. McGuirk has also served on its board. He will continue to lead SEMI in his current capacity until a successor is appointed.

(TSMC’s) Q3 results exceeded expectations. TSMC expects 2016 capex to be at the low end of the prior guidance range of $9.5 billion to $10.5 billion due to improving cycle time estimated for 10nm, which could shorten lead times for capacity installation and lower capex requirement for 2016. That said, TSMC noted that the reduction in capex would not change its 10nm capacity plan in 2017,” said Michael McConnell, an analyst at Pacific-Crest Securities, in a research note.

“Samsung LSI is expressing confidence that the foundry will take 14nm finFET production market share at GPU suppliers Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices from TSMC and GlobalFoundries in 2017, and reiterated that it will be the primary foundry partner for Qualcomm at the 10nm node next year. Samsung LSI also indicated that TSMC is expected to retain Apple as a foundry customer at the 10nm node in 2017,” McConnell said.

Worldwide semiconductor revenue is forecast to total $332 billion in 2016, a decrease of 0.9% from 2015, according to Gartner. This represents two consecutive years of revenue decline, which has happened only once in history. “The worst appears to be over, with a stronger outlook for the remainder of 2016 driven by inventory replenishment and increasing average selling prices (ASPs) in select markets,” said Jon Erensen, research director at Gartner. “Improving conditions in the commodity memory market contributed the most to the improved outlook based on stronger supply-and-demand dynamics.”

Worldwide semiconductor capital spending is projected to decline 0.3% in 2016, to $64.6 billion, according to Gartner. This is up slightly from the estimated 0.7% decline in Gartner’s previous quarterly forecast. The market is expected to return to growth in 2017, increasing 7.4%. “As we enter the final quarter of 2016, we find growth returning to the semiconductor manufacturing industry, with a slightly improved capital investment outlook for 2016 from the last quarter’s forecast,” said David Christensen, senior research analyst at Gartner. “The outlook for equipment has improved significantly as logic manufacturers focus their spending on ramping fabs for the introduction of high-volume 10-nanometer production in 2017 and memory producers are focusing on the move to 3D NAND flash.”

Total wafer demand is expected to return to historical growth rates over the next five years, according to Semico. What is uncharacteristic of the past is the wide range of decline and growth that will be logged by specific product categories and technologies. “The products experiencing growth or decline have a significant impact on the need for certain types of production capacity such as 200mm versus 300mm; logic, memory or other; and advanced versus mature process technology,” said Joanne Itow, managing director of manufacturing for Semico.

SEMI completed its annual silicon shipment forecast for the semiconductor industry. Total wafer shipments this year are expected to exceed the market high set in 2015 and are forecast to continue shipping at record levels in 2017 and 2018.

Since 2009, 200mm fab capacity has increased. By 2020, 200mm capacity is expected to reach 5.5 million wafers per month, though still less than the 2007 peak, according to a new research report from SEMI.

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