The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Samsung pours $1B in U.S. fab; AI; M&A; ASMI founder passes away.

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Samsung Austin Semiconductor plans to invest more than $1 billion in its fab in Austin, Texas. Today, the fab continues to ramp up the company’s 14nm finFET technology. At the same time, Samsung is expanding its advanced finFET foundry process technology offerings with its fourth-generation 14nm process (14LPU) and its third-generation 10nm technology (10LPU).

Graphcore is developing a so-called Intelligent Processing Unit. The IPU is a new type of processor designed to help customers accelerate the development of machine intelligence products and services. The startup obtained $30 million in funding from Robert Bosch Venture Capital, Samsung Ventures and others.

Another startup, Exnodes, has closed on its $2 million seed round. Samsung Ventures, SK Hynix and others invested in the company. Founded in 2014, Exnodes is developing so-called Computational Parallel Inspection for use in the inspection and process control markets.

The merger and acquisition activity continues to heat up in semis. Broadcom has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Brocade, a supplier of Fibre Channel storage area network switching and IP networking, for $5.5 billion, plus $0.4 billion of net debt. In addition, private equity firm Canyon Bridge has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Lattice Semiconductor for approximately $1.3 billion. Meanwhile, Skyworks is interested in buying Microsemi, according to Bloomberg. And not to be outdone, MEMS supplier InvenSense appears to be on the block.

Marvell Technology Group has announced a restructuring plan and will eliminate approximately 900 positions worldwide.

Manufacturing and test
Cadence, Coventor, X-FAB and Reutlingen University have begun registration for its previously-announced MEMS design contest. The first-prize winner will receive a $5,000 cash award, have their design manufactured at X-FAB’s wafer production facilities, and get a free one-year license of Coventor’s MEMS design software. The second and third prize winners will receive $2,000 and $1,000 cash prizes, respectively. The contest registration is open until Dec. 31, 2016.

Arthur del Prado, ASMI’s founder and former CEO, died peacefully at his home on Sept. 9, 2016. He played a fundamental and founding role in the semiconductor industry. He founded ASMI in 1964, and was its CEO until 2008. In 1975, he established ASM Pacific Technology, and was chairman until May 9, 2016.

ASML has taken a 24.9% stake in Carl Zeiss SMT, a subsidiary of Zeiss, for 1 billion euros. As part of the move, the companies will start development of a new high numerical aperture (NA) optical system for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography.

Photronics has acquired the manufacturing assets and certain intellectual property of Infinite Graphics. This company provides photomasks, software, and engineering solutions.

Hitachi plans to sell Hitachi Kokusai’s fab tool business and other units, according to reports.

National Instruments (NI) reported revenue of $306 million in the third quarter, up 2% year over year. NI received $5 million in orders from its largest customer.

Market research
Voice control is emerging as a new category of smart home devices, according to ABI Research. Voice control smart home devices, typified by the Amazon Echo, will represent almost 30% of smart home device spending by 2021, despite being a device category that barely existed two years ago, according to the firm. The social robot market, which is related to voice control, is also emerging.

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