Chip Industry Week In Review

UMC-Intel 12nm deal; Apple’s EV delay; Google settles AI TPU lawsuit; UT Austin’s AI center; double taxation bill; DRAM designs; Infineon supply chain deals; Intel’s new fab; Renesas’ surround view; Keysight chiplet PHY designer.


By Jesse Allen, Karen Heyman, and Susan Rambo

UMC and Intel will collaborate on the development of a 12nm semiconductor process platform to address high-growth markets, such as mobile, communications infrastructure, and networking.

Apple reportedly pushed back the launch date of its long-awaited electric vehicle and scaled back the self-driving features to L2 driver assistance, according to Bloomberg. The company has been working on the vehicle since 2014 under the code name Project Titan. Apple isn’t the only consumer electronics company looking for a slice of the automotive pie. China’s Xiaomi  unveiled its first luxury vehicle last month.

Google and Singular Computing settled a patent infringement lawsuit brought by Singular over technology used in Google’s tensor processing units.

The University of Texas at Austin is building a generative AI compute cluster, called Vista, that it claims will be one of the most power AI hubs on the planet. It will contain 600 NVIDIA H100 GPUs.

The U.S. government is throwing more support behind the chip industry. The Biden administration announced a registered apprenticeship program in Arizona to train workers for chip and advanced manufacturing jobs. And the U.S. Senate Finance Committee introduced bipartisan legislation that would eliminate double taxation between the United States and Taiwan. The government also is stepping up its scrutiny of the tech industry. The Federal Trade Commission launched an inquiry into Alphabet, Amazon, Anthropic, Microsoft, and OpenAI genAI investments and partnerships

Quick links to more news:

Design and Power
Manufacturing and Test
Automotive and Batteries
Pervasive Computing and AI
In-Depth Reports

Design and Power

Keysight Technologies uncorked Chiplet PHY Designer for die-to-die interconnect modeling and simulation, which can be used to verify the performance of chiplets in heterogeneous designs. The tool supports UCIe, with automated parsing of signals, and automated connections between multiple dies through package interconnects.

Siemens Digital Industries Software proposed a secure way to share thermal models across the supply chain without exposing an IC’s internal physical structure. The approach uses embeddable Boundary Condition Independent Reduced Order Model (BCI-ROM) technology, which can generate an accurate model for 3D thermal analysis.

Different DRAM chips are being included in the same design as designs become more heterogeneous and the amount of data that needs to be processed skyrockets.

The von Neumann architecture is here to stay, but AI requires novel architectures and 3D structures create a need for new testing tools, as experts debate rethinking memory.

Phison Electronics deployed Cadence’s genAI-based Cerebrus Intelligent Chip Explorer and RTL-to-GDS flow to optimize its new 12nm NAND controller ICs. Phison reportedly reduced the power by 35% and area by 3% in a multi-million cell flash controller block.

MLCommons formed a new MLPerf working group to develop benchmarks for running machine learning workloads locally on consumer PCs. The first benchmark will focus on the Llama 2 LLM.

Keysight’s RFPro electromagnetic simulation software was certified for Samsung Foundry’s 8nm Low Power Plus (LLP) radio frequency process technology.

PrimisAI uncorked a premium version of its RapidGPT natural language AI assistant for hardware design, adding capabilities such as HDL syntax auditing and correction and third-party IP catalog integration.

Ansys teamed up with DXOMARK to validate virtual models of camera systems, using Ansys’ optics portfolio to create a raw image that can be evaluated by DXOMARK’s software for image quality.

The Bavarian Chip Design Center received a €50 million (~$54 million) grant to expand chip design expertise in the region and provide startups and small and midsized enterprises with easier access to IC design and production supply chains.

D-Wave Quantum debuted a prototype of its 1,200+ qubit system with 20-way qubit connectivity, which it says demonstrates performance gains on hard optimization problems. It uses a new lower-noise, multilayer superconducting integrated-circuit fabrication stack.

Alice & Bob and the research institute Inria announced a new quantum error correction architecture that uses low-density parity-check (LDPC) codes on bit-flip protected ‘cat qubits’ to reduce hardware requirements for useful quantum computers.

Taiwan’s Academia Sinica developed and launched a 5-qubit superconducting quantum computer. It says the fidelity of the quantum bit logic gates reached 99.9%.

Manufacturing and Test

Infineon and Wolfspeed expanded and extended their existing long-term 150mm silicon carbide wafer supply agreement, which includes a multi-year capacity reservation agreement. The agreement adds stability to Infineon’s supply chain amid growing demand for SiC power chips, which are used across a range of markets, including automotive and energy. Infineon likewise extended its long-term agreement with GlobalFoundries for 40nm capacity to ensure growth of its automotive microcontroller business through 2030.

Intel opened its Fab 9 in New Mexico, part of Intel’s $3.5 billion investment in New Mexico. The new facility will focus on producing on chiplet-based 3D-ICs, using Intel’s Foveros stacking technology.

The economics look attractive for fan-out panel-level packaging, but first the industry needs convergence on panel size, process tools, and materials.

Chinese news sources report that Guangzhou-based Bioland Laboratory has built the country’s first transmission electron microscope (TEM), called the TH-F120, with the potential for mass production, which would enable China to route around import restrictions.

Austria-based AT&S says it will begin mass producing chip substrates this year in Kulim, Malaysia, making it the first supplier of such materials to diversify into Southeast Asia.

Inficon, which develops IC smart manufacturing software, acquired all the assets of FabTime, a niche provider of cycle time management software.

Automotive and Batteries

Renesas rolled out a four-channel video decoder for automotive cameras that it says will enable low-cost surround view and multi-camera applications. The company also noted that it’s radiation-hardened chips were part of Japan’s moon lander, which touched down last week.

Ansys plans to acquire a minority ownership interest in Humanetics, which makes crash test dummies and sensors that can be used with simulation software to create realistic simulations of vehicle crash events.

Infineon announced that its joint Innovation Application Center with Anker Innovations is fully operational and working on power delivery fast charging in Shenzhen, China. The lab focuses on a range of consumer applications, using Infineon’s expertise in wide-bandgap materials such as gallium nitride (GaN). Infineon also announced a deal to provide 1,200V CoolSiC MOSFET power semiconductor device to Shenzhen-based Sinexcel Electric Co., part of a partnership to improve the efficiency of energy storage systems.

Stellantis introduced its STLA Large platform for multiple brands and vehicles, which it says will propel those vehicles up to 500 mile per charge with acceleration from 0 to 62mph in the 2 second range.

GM and Honda started commercial production of their hydrogen fuel cell systems at their Michigan-based manufacturing facility Fuel Cell System Manufacturing LLC (FCSM). The two companies are in a 50-50 joint venture to make fuel cells, with FCSM launching in 2017. Honda and GM engineers have been collaborating on the co-development of fuel cell systems since 2013.

Fuel cell assembly at GM and Honda’s joint venture in Brownstown, Michigan. Source: Santa Fabio/General Motors

Global Cleantech recognized Infineon’s GaN Systems as the “Graduate Of The Year” as for its exit from the Global Cleantech 100 list of innovative companies working technology that can help achieve net-zero.

More than 4,700 auto dealerships signed a letter to the Biden Administration asking for a halt to stricter vehicle pollution standards, according to the AP. Meanwhile, Norway plans to phase out all internal combustion engine vehicle sales by next year.

Logic Fruit Technologies uncorked a FlexRay RTL IP core with data rate of up to 10 Mbps for automotive connectivity.


Mandiant and VMware Product Security discovered a Chinese espionage group has been exploiting a VMware vulnerability (CVE-2023-34048) since 2021. The group, UNC3886, used the zero-day vulnerabilities earlier than originally suspected. The weakness enabled UNC3886 to perform privileged guest operations on compromised hypervisors.

Cisco announced a vulnerability in some Cisco Unified Communications and Contact Center Solution products makes it possible for unauthorized remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on an affected device. The vulnerability stems from incorrect processing of user-provided data that is being read into memory. The vulnerability can be fixed with a software update.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued other alerts including two industrial control systems that can be accessed improperly.

Pervasive Computing and AI

UC Berkeley researchers have developed a sustainable, 3D printable material with a “supramolecular ink” that is based on cheap materials, which they say can be used to develop OLEDs and printable films for wearable devices. OLEDs today are based on rare metals such as iridium, according to Metal Supermarkets. That metal is currently selling for around $4,500 per troy ounce.

The U.S. National Science Foundation launched the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource, a shared research infrastructure with 25 private sector organizations and companies aimed at providing access to technology, training, and support U.S.-based researchers and educators.

CISA announced that it joined guidance on how to use AI securely that the Australian Signals Directorate’s Australian Cyber Security Centre (ASD’s ACSC) on Engaging with Artificial Intelligence is managing. The guidance warns against data poisoning, input manipulation, generative AI hallucinations, privacy and intellectual property threats, model stealing and training data exfiltration, and re-identification of anonymized data. Signatories include the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and National Security Agency (NSA), and agencies from United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Israel, Japan, Norway, Singapore, and Sweden.

In-Depth Reports

Here are more new stories by the Semiconductor Engineering team:

Systems & Design:


Find upcoming chip industry events here, including:

Event Date Location
SPIE Photonics West Jan 27 – Feb 1 San Francisco, CA
DesignCon 2024 Jan 30 – Feb 1 Santa Clara, CA
Chiplet Summit Feb 6 – 8 Santa Clara, CA
The Rise of Photonic Computing Feb 7 – 8 San Jose, CA
Wafer-Level Packaging Symposium Feb 13 – 15 Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport
2024 IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) Feb 18 – Feb 22 San Francisco, CA
PCI-SIG Developers Conference Feb 19 – Feb 20 Taipei, Taiwan
Phil Kaufman Award and Banquet Feb 22 San Jose, CA
SPIE Advanced Lithography + Patterning Feb 25 – Feb 29 San Jose, CA
Renesas Tech Day UK Feb 27 Cambridge, UK
All Upcoming Events

Upcoming webinars are here, with topics including chiplet design, UCIe, signal and power integrity signoff, and digital twins.

Further Reading and Newsletters

Read the latest special reports and top stories, or check out the latest newsletters:

Systems & Design
Low Power-High Performance
Test, Measurement and Analytics
Manufacturing, Packaging and Materials
Automotive, Security and Pervasive Computing

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