The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Cypress-UMC ramp MCUs; Hynix fab; IC forecasts; vending machines.

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Chipmakers
TDK has agreed to acquire MEMS supplier InvenSense for cash at an acquisition price of $13.00 per share, for a total acquisition price of $1.3 billion.

Cypress has begun volume shipments of microcontrollers (MCUs) based on its 40nm Embedded Charge-Trap (eCT) flash technology. The MCUs are made on a foundry basis at UMC. UMC’s technology is a 40nm low power (40LP) logic process. The 40nm eCT flash technology from Cypress has a cell size that is approximately 25% smaller than the nearest competitor.

SK Hynix has announced that it will construct a new memory semiconductor fab in Korea to meet increasing NAND flash demand. The new fab will be located in a Cheongju Technopolis site. It will be completed in June 2019 with total investment of 2.2 trillion won. Equipment installation into the fab shall be decided considering market conditions as well as the company’s migration plans.

Macom said that the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles has entered a preliminary injunction order that bars Infineon Technologies from designing, developing, making, marketing, or selling gallium nitride on silicon (GaN-on-Si) RF products that use intellectual property rights previously owned by Nitronex and now exclusively licensed to Macom in certain fields, including basestations.

Test
National Instruments announced the appointment of John Roiko as interim chief financial officer (CFO), effective Jan. 1, 2017. Roiko will oversee NI’s finance organization and continue to report to Alex Davern, NI’s current chief operating officer and CFO, who will become chief executive of the company effective Jan. 1.

Market research
The IC, foundry and fab tool markets see a mixed picture in 2017. IHS Markit anticipates that the total IC industry will grow by 1.8% in 2016, while the foundry market will grow by 10.6%. “For 2017, IHS Markit anticipates total semiconductor revenue growth to be 7.4% with the foundry market experiencing even stronger growth,” according to Len Jelinek, an analyst at the research firm. “IHS Markit anticipates that the foundry market will once again outperform the overall industry and increase revenue by 11.2%. Foundry revenue growth should be driven by both the transition to next-generation 10nm technology, as well as continued growth from Chinese foundries.

“I believe the long-term demand will be for 7nm. The good news is that the tool sets are transitional to a large degree so companies like TSMC and Samsung who are focused in 2017 on 10nm for the handset demand will be able to transition a large portion of their capacity to 7nm. Also in 2018 we should have a third company, GlobalFoundries, entering the (7nm) market as a fast follower,” Jelinek said.

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In 2017, IC Insights forecasts that the total memory IC market will increase 10% to a new record high of $85.3 billion. “For 2017, IC Insights forecasts a strong increase in DRAM average selling prices, which is expected to lift the DRAM market to 11% growth,” according to IC Insights. “The NAND flash memory market—the only memory segment to show an increase in 2016—is expected to grow 10% in 2017.”

Data from SEMI’s World Fab Forecast report revealed that 62 new front-end fab facilities will begin operation between 2017 and 2020.

Robotics is a hot market. IDC predicts that 35% of leading organizations in logistics, health, utilities, and resources will explore the use of robots to automate operations by 2019.

ABI Research forecasts that cellular M2M module shipments will exceed 400 million in 2021. This is an increase over previous forecasts, driven in part by operator announcements of accelerated rollouts of NB-IoT networks. “In the mid to latter half of 2016, several mobile operators, including DT, Vodafone, China Mobile, and China Unicom announced NB-IoT network availability as early as 2017,” says Dan Shey, managing director and vice president at ABI Research. “While this may not equate to full regional coverage across all operator properties nor service availability, it demonstrates operator commitment to the technology to help drive OEM product development and eventual customer adoption.”

ABI Research finds there will be more than 10 million network connections to vending machines by the end of 2016 with growth estimated to reach nearly 24 million connections in 2021 for a CAGR of 17%. “The vending machine ecosystem is evolving as leading companies like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and VE Global Vending look to expand distribution offerings and connect their machines to the Internet to increase operational efficiencies,” according to ABI Research. “The newly connected machines will allow operators to gain new insight into metrics on inventory management, foot traffic, and automatic maintenance requests.”

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