The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Toshiba woes; edge tool; Lam’s DNA play; Semicon recap.

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Fab tools
Lam Research held an analyst event this week. The company indicated that the industry is in the midst of a memory boom, including both DRAM and 3D NAND. According to Amit Daryanani, an analyst with RBC, here was one of the big takeaways at the event: “The memory spend portion of WFE is more sustainable than previously assumed due to end-market drivers such as big data, automation, and AI leading to exponential data growth. As a result, LRCX’s expectation of NAND spend over (the) next five years has increased from $50B to $70B.”

In a separate announcement, Lam has rolled out its Corvus edge control technology within its Kiyo conductor etch products. Corvus solves a major problem. “Now, the last frontier is improving yields at the edge of the wafer – the outer 10mm or so – where chemical, physical, and even thermal discontinuities are simply much harder to control,” according to a blog posting from Lam. Corvus addresses the issue. “Lam’s new Corvus technology provides a novel capability to smooth out extreme edge discontinuities and enhance edge performance,” according to the blog. “It offers the ability to tune the plasma sheath at the edge to produce a constant, user-defined etch rate and ion angle.”

Finally, Lam is taking a step into the life sciences arena. NanoString Technologies and Lam have announced a strategic collaboration to develop NanoString’s proprietary next-generation sequencing platform. Under the terms, Lam will provide up to $50 million of funding intended to cover the costs of development and regulatory approval over a development period expected to last approximately three years, as well as advanced engineering and technical support. Lam will receive a warrant to purchase one million shares of NanoString common stock at $16.75 per share, as well as a royalty on all products developed under the collaboration. NanoString retains all rights to commercialize the products, and the parties will share ownership rights in jointly developed intellectual property.

Tokyo Electron (TEL) recently posted its results. Sales were up for the quarter. The company forecasted that the overall wafer fab equipment (WFE) market would grow 10% in 2017, thanks to 3D NAND and logic.

Dave Anderson, president of SEMI Americas, presented some highlights at the recent Semicon West trade show. Click here to read about some of the highlights.

SEMI confirmed its support for joint industry/government cooperation to advance European manufacturing policy. A Joint-Declaration signed by SEMI Europe and 129 other manufacturing associations calls for a renewed commitment to the growth of manufacturing sectors and implementation of a strong action plan. SEMI has joined the appeal for the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Commission to determine and execute an ambitious industrial strategy with a realistic timeline.

Chipmakers
More problems for Toshiba. The company planned to sell its memory business to a consortium. Then, Western Digital (WDC), Toshiba’s fab partner, wasn’t part of the consortium and is now attempting to block the deal. This week, Toshiba filed its results. “Toshiba CEO noted they are now in talks with Foxconn and WDC in addition to the ‘preferred bidder’ group, an indication that (the sale has) stalled with the INCJ/Bain/SK Hynix consortium,” RBC’s Daryanani said. “Toshiba management noted it’s ‘possible’ for a NAND sale to be done by the end of March though the timeline is difficult.”

GlobalFoundries has demonstrated silicon functionality of a 2.5D packaging solution for its 14nm finFET technology for application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). The 2.5D ASIC solution includes a stitched interposer capability to overcome lithography limitations and a two terabits per second (2Tbps) multi-lane HBM2 PHY, developed in partnership with Rambus. The solution will be integrated on the company’s next-generation 7nm finFET technology.

Mie Fujitsu Semiconductor, a Japanese based pure-play foundry company, has announced plans to develop an automotive platform based on 40nm technology using Silicon Storage Technology’s IP. Mie Fujitsu Semiconductor is a subsidiary of Fujitsu Semiconductor. UMC is a minority shareholder.

Samsung announced a 1-terabit 3D NAND device, which it expects to be available next year. Reportedly a 96-layer device, the chip will enable 2 terabytes of memory in a single package by stacking 16 1-Tbit dies. Meanwhile, based on its existing 64-layer 3D NAND chips, Samsung is sampling the industry’s first 16-TB NGSFF solid-state storage (SSD) drive. In addition, Samsung introduced its first Z-SSD product.

Intel rolled out several SSDs for the data center and other apps. They include the so-called “Ruler” form factor for Intel SSDs, an all-new form factor enabling up to 1-PB of storage in a 1U server rack in the future. It also included the company’s dual-port SSDs based on its Optane and 3D NAND chips.

Packaging and test
National Instruments (NI) has released a new family of high-performance PXI remote control and bus extension modules with PCI Express Gen 3 connectivity. PCI Express Gen 3 technology delivers increased bandwidth that is critical for data intensive applications like 5G cellular research, RF record and playback, and high-channel-count data acquisition.

Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) recently reported its results for the second quarter of 2017. Sales were up 5% year-over-year.

Market research
According to Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments grew 6% annually to reach 360 million units in Q2 2017. Samsung maintained first position with 22% global smartphone share, while Apple dipped to 11% share. China’s Xiaomi surged 58% annually and rejoined the top five rankings for the first time in a year.