The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Qualcomm-NXP; GF-Aquantia; UMC, Samsung results; NI’s scope; Aixtron.

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Chipmakers
As expected, Qualcomm has signed a definitive agreement to acquire NXP. The value of the deal is approximately $47 billion.

With the deal, Qualcomm is diversifying from a maturing handset market into the growing automotive, IoT and security sectors, according to Genuity semiconductor analyst Matthew Ramsay, in a recent research note. “Automotive infotainment, ADAS, IoT and other growth markets could greatly benefit Qualcomm’s roadmap going forward. Additionally, we believe Qualcomm’s handset business would benefit from NXP’s mature NFC, secure element, and USB-C technology portfolios. Finally, Qualcomm would benefit from the acquisition of a mature distribution business with channel relationships and from use of its offshore cash,” Ramsay said.

“For NXP, we believe the increased scale and particularly brand awareness of Qualcomm could help unlock additional value from NXP’s small handset business within secure connected devices and Qualcomm could add compute and graphics horsepower as well as foundry scale to NXP’s automotive franchise. Finally, we believe a potential acquisition could unlock value in NXP’s business that has not been achieved as an independent public company,” he said.

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Aquantia, a developer of high-speed Ethernet connectivity solutions for data centers and enterprise infrastructure, has unveiled QuantumStream. This technology, which is being developed by Aquantia through a strategic collaboration with GlobalFoundries, is creating a 100Gbit/s bandwidth all-electrical technology to deliver low latency to networking applications. Under the collaboration, GlobalFoundries provided access to its 56Gbit/s IP core to Aquantia. Aquantia combined the IP with its Mixed-Mode Signal Processing (MMSP) and Multi-Core Signal Processing (MCSP) architecture.

United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) reported its results for the third quarter of 2016. Third quarter consolidated revenue was up 3.2% from the previous period and up 8.1% from last year. Po-Wen Yen, chief executive of UMC, said that the company’s fab utilization was at 89%. “During the quarter, our 28nm business exceeded 20% of quarterly revenue for the first time, mainly driven by strong chip demand within the communication segment,” he said.

Samsung reported its financial results for the third quarter ended Sept. 30. For the components businesses, Samsung’s operating profit increased amid growth in the SSD and flexible OLED sectors. But the company was impacted by a price correction for DRAM during the first half of 2016. “Samsung reported (September quarter) results below the Street largely due to the discontinuation of the Galaxy Note 7,” said Amit Daryanani, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, in a research note. “Positively, the company saw solid growth in semiconductor business, notably memory, driven by strong demand in mobile DRAM and high-performance server products (V-NAND).”

“Samsung expects its semiconductor capex to be roughly 13.2 trillion KRW in 2016, down roughly 10% from 2015,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities, in a research note. “Samsung is preparing to ramp additional 3D NAND capacity in line 17 (volume manufacturing in 1H 2017) and Pyeongtaek (volume manufacturing in mid-2017). Samsung also sounded bullish on its migration to 64-layer devices in 2017 (from 48-layer). Samsung noted risk of slowing DRAM demand growth in 1H 2017, a potential headwind for DRAM producers, but otherwise sounded relatively bullish on DRAM supply and demand dynamics.”

Samsung has expanded its Internet of Things (IoT) platform, dubbed Artik. The platform features two new module families, new device management capabilities and an expanded partner ecosystem.

Intel Capital has announced new investments totaling more than $38 million in 12 technology startups.

Packaging, assembly & test
National Instruments (NI) has rolled out the PXIe-5164 oscilloscope. The PXIe-5164 is built on the open, modular PXI architecture. It includes a user-programmable FPGA to help applications that require high-voltage measurements and high levels of amplitude accuracy.

Fab tools
In May, China’s Grand Chip Investment GmbH, a 100% indirect subsidiary of Fujian Grand Chip Investment Fund, entered into an agreement to take over German MOCVD maker Aixtron. Now, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy has withdrawn or axed the deal for now. The agency announced a reopening of review proceedings in connection with the takeover offer by Grand Chip.

Market research
IC Insights has raised its IC market forecast for 2016 by three percentage points from a 2% decline to a 1% increase and its 2016 IC unit volume shipment growth rate forecast from 4% to 6%. A large portion of this revision is due to a strengthening DRAM market.

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