The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Toshiba to exit ICs?; IC rankings; Samsung-Audi; micro-amusement parks.

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Chipmakers
2017 is just getting underway and there appears to be more restructuring in the IC industry. Toshiba is looking to spin off its semiconductor division and Western Digital (WD) plans to take a minority stake, according to Nikkei, which added that Toshiba would sell a 20% stake for 200-300 billion yen ($1.78-$2.65 billion). “The arrangement would provide Toshiba with short term funds and for WDC perhaps (to) ensure continuity of their ongoing JV with Toshiba that manufactures NAND for WDC/SNDK,” according to Amit Daryanani, an analyst with RBC. Recently, WD acquired SanDisk, which still has an existing NAND joint fab alliance with Toshiba. Toshiba’s semiconductor business is mainly memory, including planar and 3D NAND. It is the world’s second largest supplier of NAND, next to Samsung.

In the semiconductor rankings, Intel remained in the top spot in terms of IC sales in 2016, according to Gartner. Samsung Electronics maintained the No. 2 position. Qualcomm was No. 3, followed by SK Hynix. Broadcom was the best performer in the top 25, climbing 11 places to reach the fifth position after Avago Technologies’ acquisition of Broadcom. In addition, MediaTek moved into the top 10.

Samsung is participating in the Audi Progressive SemiConductor Program (PSCP). Samsung is suppling its Exynos processors for Audi’s In Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) systems. Audi’s PSCP was first initiated in 2010 to implement the latest technologies in cars.

Two Bit Circus, an experiential entertainment company, has closed $15 million in Series B funding. The investment was led by JAZZ Venture Partners, with participation from all existing investors: Foundry Group, Techstars Ventures and Intel Capital. New investors include Dentsu Ventures, Georgian Pine and others. The funding will be used to build a portfolio of next-generation micro-amusement parks. They will include the latest in multi-person virtual reality and mixed reality, social play experiences, group games, molecular gastronomy, mixology, lasers, fire and robots. The first location will open in Los Angeles.

Fab tools
The industry is moving from 16nm/14nm finFETs with 10nm and 7nm in the works. One of the big challenges is the increased contact resistance in devices, according to a blog from Applied Materials.

Voce Capital, an investment firm, is pushing Nanometrics and Rudolph Technologies to merge, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Packaging
In a blog, Lam Research talks about the manufacturing steps involved in creating IC packages. The blog discusses wafer-level packaging, bumping, redistribution layers, fan out and through-silicon vias.

Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) has announced that Jason Chang, the company’s chairman, has received the 2017 Dale Carnegie Leadership Award.

Market Research
More than two dozen acquisition agreements were announced by semiconductor companies worldwide in 2016 with a combined value of $98.5 billion compared to the record-high $103.3 billion in purchases struck in 2015, when over 30 deals were reached, according to IC Insights.

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