Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

OSAT rankings; GF GaN; U.S. rare earths; tech jobs.


Packaging and test
TrendForce has released its ranking of the top OSATs in terms of sales in the first quarter of 2021. ASE remains in the top spot, followed in order by Amkor, JCET, SPIL and PTI.

“Industry leaders ASE and Amkor posted revenues of $1.69 billion and $1.33 billion, which are YoY increases of 24.6% and 15.0%, respectively, in 1Q21,” according to TrendForce. “ASE gradually strengthened and increased the supply of its wire bonding services for chips used in notebook computers, telecom devices, and servers. The company has been well prepared in terms of both mature and advanced chip packaging capacities. On the other hand, Amkor, which took second place in the top 10, was primarily focused on developing its advanced packaging competencies and aggressively expanding its presence in the advanced packaging market for 5G, automotive, and notebook chips.”


Siliconware Precision Industries (SPIL) plans to invest $2.86 billion to build a new plant in Taiwan, according to a report from the Taipei Times. SPIL is a subsidiary of ASE.

Technoprobe and FormFactor received “5 VLSI Stars” as the 2021 Highest-Rated Test Connectivity Suppliers in the VLSIresearch Customer Satisfaction Survey. Technoprobe took the number one position for a fourth year in a row earning its highest-rated categories in Technical Leadership and Partnering. FormFactor took second place earning its highest-rated categories in Support After Sales and Product Performance.

Chipmakers and OEMs
GlobalFoundries is entering the RF gallium-nitride (GaN) market. Raytheon Technologies will license its proprietary gallium nitride on silicon technology and technical expertise to GF. GF and Raytheon will collaborate to develop and commercialize a new GaN-on-silicon semiconductor that will enable RF performance for 5G and 6G mobile and wireless infrastructure applications.

SK Hynix is seeking to acquire Key Foundry, the former foundry unit of MagnaChip, according to a report the Korea Times. “While SK Hynix is currently considering various options to expand our foundry business, nothing’s been finalized for the time being,” according to a spokesman for SK Hynix.

SkyWater reported its first results since its recent initial public offering (IPO). Net sales grew 30% year-over-year to $48.1 million. “SkyWater delivered record net sales in our first quarter driven by continued growth in our Advanced Technology Services (ATS) business,” said SkyWater president and CEO Thomas Sonderman. “Our Minnesota fab is ramping automotive and IoT-related production activities as we see significant increases in demand while continuing to transition customers from ATS into volume wafer services. During the quarter we also engaged with several new partners in both our ATS business and as part of our 130 nanometer mixed-signal offering.”

STMicroelectronics has acquired Cartesiam, a software company that specializes in development tools. The tools enable machine-learning and inferencing on Arm-based microcontrollers.

Ford and SK Innovation have signed a memorandum of understanding for a joint venture – to be called BlueOvalSK – to manufacture battery cells and arrays in the U.S. BlueOvalSK will produce approximately 60 gigawatt hours (GWh) annually starting mid-decade.

Fab tools
Applied Materials recorded quarterly revenue of $5.58 billion, up 41% year-over-year. “Applied Materials’ record performance is underpinned by broad-based strength across our semiconductor businesses,” said Gary Dickerson, president and CEO.

Brewer Science is now a Certified B Corp. As a B Corp., Brewer Science is committed to achieving the highest standards of corporate, social, and environmental performance, along with transparency and accountability.

Inficon, a supplier of vacuum instrumentation and process control software to the semiconductor manufacturing industry, acquired the assets owned or used in connection with manufacturing of Fil-Tech’s crystals.

Nanosys, a supplier of quantum dot light emitting materials and technology, said it has acquired glō, a microLED display developer.

The U.S. is trying to expand its efforts in rare earths. On one front, Rare Element Resources has provided an update regarding the progress of pre-award negotiations with the U.S. Department of Energy for the engineering, construction and operation of a rare earth separation and processing demonstration plant in the U.S. The demonstration plant will utilize the company’s technology to produce commercial-grade high-purity oxide for U.S. rare earth magnet production.

Then, on another front, USA Rare Earth has exercised its option to acquire 80% of the Round Top Heavy Rare Earth, Lithium and Critical Minerals Project in Hudspeth County, Texas. USA Rare Earth recently completed a Series C Funding round of $50 million. It plans to develop a demonstration plant at the Round Top site later this year.

Government policy
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer has filed the new bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. This combines Schumer’s Endless Frontier Act and other bipartisan competitiveness bills. It includes $52 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to implement the semiconductor-related manufacturing and R&D programs authorized in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act and a program to support legacy chip production that is essential to the auto industry, military, and other critical industries. This package will receive a final Senate vote in the days ahead.

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), in partnership with Oxford Economics, released a study analyzing the semiconductor workforce in the United States and the economic benefits that would come from federal investment in domestic chip production. The study projects a $50 billion federal investment program to incentivize domestic semiconductor manufacturing would create an average of 185,000 temporary American jobs annually and add $24.6 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

Market research
RF component revenues reached an all-time high in 2020 and strong growth will continue despite shortages in the arena, according to Strategy Analytics.

The total electronic gas market will reach $6.25 billion for 2021, more than 7% above 2020 revenues, according to a report from TECHCET. Over the next several years, the electronic gas market is expected to see steady growth, thanks to growing demand for chips and fab expansions worldwide.

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