The Week In Review: Manufacturing

7nm test chips; 300mm RF SOI; Philippines chip IPO; DSA and 3D R&D.

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An alliance led by IBM Research has produced the semiconductor industry’s first 7nm test chips with functioning transistors. The breakthrough, accomplished in partnership with GlobalFoundries and Samsung at SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, could result in the ability to place more than 20 billion tiny switches, or transistors, on a chip.

There is a shortage of RF SOI in the marketplace. GlobalFoundries’ recent move to buy IBM’s chip unit will help secure more RF SOI capacity in the market. And in another move, Peregrine Semiconductor has rolled out the UltraCMOS 11 platform, an RF SOI technology built on GlobalFoundries’ 130nm RF technology platform. The technology is being built using 300mm wafers from GlobalFoundries’ fab in Singapore.

The Philippine Stock Exchange has approved an initial public offering (IPO) plan by Phoenix Semiconductor Philippines Corp. (PSPC), a Korean-owned semiconductor packaging manufacturer in the Philippines. Incorporated in 2010, PSPC’s main shareholder is South Korean-listed STS Semiconductor & Telecommunications. PSPC was spun off from Samsung. It was established by STS as its Philippine subsidiary to act as the outsourced manufacturer of contract products for Samsung’s internal use as well as for Samsung’s customers like Apple, HP, IBM, Oracle, Lenovo and Dell.

Samsung Electronics has introduced 2-terabyte (TB) solid-state drives (SSDs). The SSDs are based on Samsung’s 3D NAND chips, dubbed Vertical NAND (V-NAND).

In a blog, Lam Research described its alliance with the University of Texas (UT). Lam and UT have been working on directed self-assembly (DSA) technology.

IRT Nanoelec and its partners CEA-Leti, STMicroelectronics and Mentor Graphics have realized a 3D chip called “3DNoC.” This demonstrates the use of 3D stacking technology in systems-on-chips (SoCs). The 3DNoC chip is based on a 2D die that can be used in a stand-alone applicative mode, and also in a 3D stack with several dice, to multiply the processing performance of the system, according to the French group.

On June 24, the U.S. Senate passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, granting fast-track negotiating powers to the Obama Administration by a margin of 60-38. A week earlier, the House passed TPA. What does it mean for the fab tool industry?

Gigaphoton has launched a “Neon Gas Rescue Program.” This is a comprehensive package consisting of three programs–the qualification of new gas vendors; a limited-time; free-of-charge implementation of Gigaphoton’s technology for reducing neon gas usage; and the accelerated introduction of the company’s gas recycling technology. The program was developed by Gigaphoton to provide customers with assistance in addressing the growing challenges in supply and cost of neon gas.

SEMI will update its http://www.semi.org/en/node/56991 for semiconductor manufacturing equipment. The guidelines are consensus-driven and industry-specific for the supply chain. They are updated about every three years. The industry organization also said that Semicon Europa this year will add an interdisciplinary power electronics conference.

Worldwide semiconductor revenue is forecast to reach $348 billion in 2015, a 2.2% increase from 2014, but down from the previous quarter’s forecast of 4 growth, according to Gartner. “The outlook for the major applications that drive the semiconductor market, including PCs, smartphones, and tablets, have all been revised downward. This, combined with the impact of the strong dollar on demand in key markets, has resulted in a lower semiconductor forecast for 2015,” said Jon Erensen, research director at Gartner, in a statement. “The typical second-quarter bounce did not materialize this year, and as a result, the semiconductor industry is more back-end loaded and dependent on a strong third-quarter rebound, driven by Windows 10 and the ramp-up to the holiday season.”