The Week In Review: July 22

450mm litho; Intel’s foundry walk; Apple-GF deal?; RF SOI; book-to-bill; EDA deals.

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By Mark LaPedus
ASML Holding has been under pressure to bring extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography into mass production. EUV is still delayed. Now, in their latest roadmaps, leading-edge chipmakers are counting on ASML’s 300mm EUV scanner for insertion at the 10nm node. Yet, at the same time, ASML also is working on a 450mm version of the EUV tool. “EUV (on 300mm) is a higher priority than 450mm,” said Luc Van den hove, chief executive of Imec, in an interview. “We are still pushing very hard to get the first introduction of EUV at the 10nm node.” In the meantime, ASML plans to ship an alpha 450mm EUV tool in 2015, with a production version slated for 2018. However, there are signs that 450mm fabs initially will use 193nm immersion scanners, not EUV. ASML and Nikon are working on 450mm versions of 193nm immersion.

For some time, Intel has been expanding its efforts in the foundry business. The company has taken what it calls a “crawl, walk and run” strategy. In the beginning, Intel was learning the ropes and in the “crawl” mode, but it has since grabbed several notable customers, namely Altera. “We are moving from I’d say that crawl space to at least the walk space,” said Brian Krzanich, Intel’s new CEO, in a conference call to discuss the company’s results. Intel reported mixed results and cut its capital spending. In a research note, Michael McConnell, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities, said: “2013 capex guidance was lowered to $11 billion from previous guidance of $12 billion. Of the $1 billion capex reduction, most is coming from lower than expected demand in 2013, but a smaller portion is attributed to lower 450mm spending. In terms of linearity, the company expects capex spending to be back-half weighted with increased spending due to 14nm and 450mm costs coming in 2H13.”

Who is Apple’s foundry vendor? For years, the answer was Samsung, but the two have experienced a falling out after a bitter legal battle over smartphone technology. Some time ago, Apple signed a foundry deal with TSMC. Now, there are rumors that other foundries are looking to grab some Apple business. Intel has been talking to Apple for months. Samsung is trying to get back in Apple’s good graces. UMC is in the mix. The latest rumor is Apple may invest in GlobalFoundries’ fab in New York. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer appears to be one of the brokers in the deal, according to The Saratogian.

Last week, Ajit Manocha, CEO of GlobalFoundries, gave a keynote at Semicon West. In case you missed it, here’s a video of the keynote.

In a conference call, executives from Skyworks Solutions talk about the company’s results, the RF market, silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology, and Qualcomm’s pushing into the RF front-end business.

Mentor Graphics announced that intelligent software-driven verification (iSDV) has been added to the Questa functional verification platform to automatically generate embedded C test programs for both single-core and multi-core SoC design verification.

United Microelectronics Corp. has adopted Cadence’s “in-design” and signoff design-for-manufacturing (DFM) flows to perform physical signoff and electrical variability optimization for 28nm designs.

Hitachi reduced development time and accelerated time to market for new IT products by utilizing the Cadence Rapid Prototyping Platform.

Fujitsu Semiconductor has reduced the regression verification time for a system-on-chip (SoC) design by 3X using Cadence’s Incisive Enterprise Simulator and the Incisive Enterprise Manager.

Micron Technology took the technology lead in NAND flash. It is sampling a 16nm process technology, enabling the industry’s smallest 128-gigabit (Gb) multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash memory devices. Previously, Toshiba was the technology leader with a 19nm NAND flash process.

DRAM average selling prices (ASPs) have increased every month throughout 2013 and are now at levels last seen in October 2010, according to data from IC Insights.

IDC‘s preliminary results show that the Asia/Pacific PC market declined 1% from last quarter and 11% year-on-year in 2013 Q2 to reach 26.7 million units, coming in marginally lower than IDC’s initial forecasts.

As LED lighting becomes an $80 billion industry, the market for the epitaxial wafers LEDs will grow to $4 billion in 2020, according to Lux Research.