The Week In Review: Manufacturing

GF job fair; China fab; 10nm; Coventor’s photonics play; IC rankings.

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Chipmakers
Next month, GlobalFoundries will host a job fair in Portland, Ore., according to reports. The company hopes to hire former Intel workers. These are workers who lost their jobs as part of Intel’s recent layoff.

Anokiwave, a developer of chips for the mmWave market, has announced a foundry alliance with GlobalFoundries. GlobalFoundries will make so-called Silicon Core chips on a foundry basis for the company. The chips are based on GlobalFoundries’ 130nm silicon-germanium (SiGe) technology platform. Chips for mmWave and active antennas have been used in military phase-array radar systems for many years and are now being deployed in record numbers in a wide range of commercial applications. The highly anticipated roll out of 5G infrastructure is expected to utilize active antenna technologies in both base stations as well as handsets.

United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) has opened United Semi, UMC’s 300mm joint venture wafer fab in Xiamen, China. Pilot production yields for communication ICs at the fab have already exceeded 99% on the company’s 40nm process. United Semi is a 3-way joint venture foundry company between UMC, Xiamen Municipal People’s Government and Fujian Electronics & Information Group.

Samsung and Qualcomm have extended their ongoing foundry alliance. Under the plan, Samsung will make Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 line of application processors based on its 10nm finFET process technology. In October, Samsung entered into mass production with its 10nm finFET technology. Snapdragon 835 is in production now and expected to ship in commercial devices in the first half of 2017.

Samsung has announced plans to acquire Harman for approximately $8.0 billion. Upon closing, the transaction will immediately give Samsung a presence in the large and rapidly growing market for connected technologies, particularly automotive electronics.

Analog Devices (ADI) has announced the acquisition of the solid-state laser beam steering technology from Vescent Photonics. Vescent’s non-mechanical beam steering technology enables integrated LIDAR systems. ADI is also in the process of buying Linear Devices.

Manufacturing
Coventor will collaborate with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on silicon photonics process modeling. MIT is a key player in the AIM Photonics program, a federally funded, public-private partnership established to advance domestic capabilities in integrated photonic technology and strengthen high-tech U.S.-based manufacturing.

Coventor will provide its SEMulator3D process modeling platform to model the effect of process variation in the development of photonic integrated components. “Silicon photonics is an emerging field that has the potential to revolutionize both the photonics and electronics industries as we know them today,” said David Fried, chief technical officer at Coventor. “The advantages of using light to transmit information are clear but also bring significant complications, especially around integrating photonics into semiconductor electronics.”

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Applied Materials’s thin-film deposition equipment has been selected by BOE Technology Group for use in the world’s first Gen 10.5 TFT-LCD production line. BOE ordered multiple CVD and PVD systems, which can produce up to six 75-inch LCD TV panels per substrate – the largest ever used for displays.

Applied Materials reported results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Oct. 30, 2016. Fourth quarter new orders were $3.03 billion, up 25% year over year. Net sales of $3.30 billion were up 39% year over year. “Matching our preview, Applied posted in-line results and guided FQ1 (Jan.) well above consensus as near-term demand remains high. Demand is being led by strong 3D NAND spending as well as 10nm spending, particularly at TSMC, in our view, and display demand from mobile OLED and large-format customers. Applied Materials’ service business also continues to grow at a steady clip,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities. “Revenue in FQ1 is expected to be down 0.8% q/q at the midpoint, or $3.27 billion, above our prior estimate of $2.908 billion and the consensus estimate of $3.137 billion.”

Lam Research announced that its board has approved a $1 billion share repurchase authorization, with execution planned over the next 12 to 18 months; and a 50% increase of the company’s quarterly dividend.

Market research
IC Insights has released its projected rankings for the top-25 semiconductor suppliers in 2016. The top-20 rankings includes three pure-play foundries–TSMC, GlobalFoundries and UMC.

Intel will remain in the number one spot in the top-20 ranking in 2016. “In fact, it is expected to increase its lead over Samsung’s semiconductor sales from only 24% in 2015 to 29% in 2016,” according to IC Insights. “The biggest upward move in the ranking is forecast to be made by Apple, which is expected to jump up three positions in the 2016 ranking as compared to 2015. Other companies that are forecast to make noticeable moves up the ranking include MediaTek and Nvidia, with each company expected to improve by two positions.

Apple is an anomaly in the top-20 ranking with regards to major semiconductor suppliers. The company designs and uses its processors only in its own products–there are no sales of the company’s MPUs to other system makers. IC Insights estimates that Apple’s custom ARM-based SoC processors will have a ‘sales value’ of $6.5 billion in 2016, which will place them in the 14th position in the forecasted top-20 ranking,” according to the firm