The Week In Review: Manufacturing

3D China fab; Intel’s chemical leak; GF’s auto process; fab tool biz up; MEMS outlook.

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Samsung Electronics announced that its memory fabrication line in Xi’an China has begun full-scale manufacturing operations. The new facility will manufacture Samsung’s advanced NAND flash memory chips, dubbed 3D V-NAND.

A recent chemical leak at Intel’s fab in Arizona was contained and two workers were taken to a hospital for observation, according to reports. Apparently, Intel was installing tools at the fab. A tube was severed, which caused a spill of around 100 gallons of ammonium hydroxide, according to reports.

GlobalFoundries introduced a manufacturing platform aimed at the automotive industry. It is built on the company’s 55nm low power process.

SEMI and its data partners saw a positive first quarter, as compared to one year ago. Combined equipment billings reported by SEMI and the Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan (SEAJ) have first quarter 2014 billings at about $7.9 billion, over 30% higher than one year ago. Leadframe unit shipment growth, reported to SEMI, is up 14% compared to the same period one year ago.

MEMS companies face several challenges, as the devices are increasingly becoming commodities, according to SEMI.

University of California at Berkeley researchers, sponsored by Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC), are pursuing a novel approach to 3D device integration. The research focuses on integrating extra layers of transistors on a vertically integrated 3D monolithic chip using printing of semiconductor “inks.”

Sematech announced that researchers have reached a milestone in reducing tool-generated defects from the multi-layer deposition of mask blanks used for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, pushing the technology another step toward readiness for high-volume manufacturing.

Silicon Image has completed the acquisition of UpdateLogic, a provider of Device Management Services (DMS) for Internet-connected consumer products.

Taiwanese and Chinese companies represented five of the eight fastest growing top-25 fabless IC suppliers in 2013, according to IC Insights.

Batteries for hybrids and plug-in vehicles are growing fast, more than tripling over the past three years to reach 1.4 GWh per quarter, according to Lux Research. Panasonic has emerged as the leader thanks to its partnership with Tesla, capturing 39% of the plug-in vehicle battery market, overtaking NEC (27% market share) and LG Chem (9%) in 2013.