The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Drone mania; fab tool forecast; materials firm obtains VC funding.


Samsung plans to make a major entry into the drone market, according to reports. “Samsung is not alone in focusing on the drone market,” said Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts, in a research note. “At CES next month in Las Vegas, one can expect new products from drone market leader DJI, but dozens of new drone models from Parrot and many other companies. Even GoPro chip maker Ambarella, whose cameras have been in many early DJI models, has indicated that it will also enter the drone market, probably because DJI has started providing their own cameras in several drone models.

“But, we also expect chip and subsystem products targeting the drone market, including offerings from chip heavyweights Intel and Qualcomm and others. The companies realized that there’s a lot of overlap between drones and smartphones, since both rely on Wi-Fi and radio signals, gyroscopes, accelerometers, magnetometers and cameras,” Strauss said.


For years, TSMC has been a big proponent of multi-beam e-beam technology for direct-write lithography applications. Led by TSMC litho guru Burn Lin, TSMC supported various suppliers of multi-beam e-beam tools. Lin hoped to put multi-beam into production. That will never happen, however. First, Lin recently retired. And recently, an official from TSMC said the foundry giant is no longer pursuing multi-beam e-beam as a litho option for future nodes. For future nodes, TSMC is still backing 193nm immersion, EUV and DSA, but not multi-beam.

SEMI projects that worldwide sales of new semiconductor manufacturing equipment will decrease by 0.6% to $37.3 billion in 2015. In 2016, the fab tool market is projected to see nominal positive growth of 1.4%. In addition, North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted $1.24 billion in orders worldwide in November 2015 and a book-to-bill ratio of 0.96, according to SEMI.

SBA Materials, a developer of nano-structured dielectrics, has announced the closing of its Series D financing round. New investors in this round were Air Liquide Venture Capital and Tokyo Electron Venture Capital Also participating were existing investors Intel Capital, Samsung Venture Investment and Sun Mountain Capital.

Applied Materials announced that Chorng-Ping Chang, who leads the company’s strategic external research with universities and industry consortia, has been named a 2016 IEEE Fellow.

Applied Materials announced the appointment of Adrianna Ma to serve on its board. Ma has been a managing partner at the Fremont Group, a private investment company, since May 2015. From 2005 to 2015, Ma served as a managing director at General Atlantic LLC, a global growth equity firm.

Lam Research received the 2015 “Best Fab Tool Service” supplier award from TowerJazz, a leading global specialty foundry.

Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) has submitted a proposal to acquire Siliconware Precision Industries (SPIL). ASE already owns a 25% stake in SPIL. But it appears that SPIL refuses to cooperate with ASE. In fact, on Dec. 11, SPIL decided to enter into a share placement agreement with China’s Tsinghua Unigroup. Tsinghua wants to take a 25% in SPIL.

Micron Technology will acquire the remaining shares in Taiwan’s Inotera Memories it doesn’t already own. This represents a transaction value of approximately $3.2 billion to acquire the remaining equity.

Qualcomm was looking to split the company into two parts, but the fabless IC maker has decided against that.

  • realjjj

    Xiaomi and Huawei are rumored to be exploring drones too.