The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Toshiba saga; mask/litho survey; KLA tools; record tool spending.

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Chipmakers
Toshiba has changed its mind yet again about which group will buy its prized memory unit. On June 20, Toshiba chose a Japanese government-led consortium of INCJ/DBJ, Bain Capital and South Korea’s SK Hynix. Then, Toshiba changed its mind and selected a similar group with Western Digital (WDC), leaving SK Hynix on the outside looking in.

This week, Toshiba signed a deal with a Bain Capital-led consortium, this time without Western Digital. Toshiba’s fab partner is SanDisk, which is part of Western Digital. “The Bain consortium includes Apple, SK Hynix, and a large unnamed Japanese technology company, Toshiba creditors, Toshiba itself (presumably in a minority position) and potentially INCJ/DBJ once the dispute with WDC is resolved,” said Amit Daryanani, an analyst with RBC, in a research note. “WDC responded to the announcement by stating that it was disappointed by Toshiba’s actions and that it would continue to pursue the legal options available to it.” Stay tuned.

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U.S.-based Lattice Semiconductor has announced the termination of the acquisition by a China firm–Canyon Bridge Capital Partners–following an order from the the president of the United States.

Fab tools
The optimism is growing for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography in the market, according to a pair of new surveys released by the eBeam Initiative, which also revealed some new and surprising data about mask writing tools and other photomask technology.

Lam Research has recognized seven companies for its Supplier Excellence Awards. The award winners were selected from among Lam’s list of parts, sub-system and other preferred global component suppliers. The winners were Edwards Vacuum, Horiba, Ilshin Precision, MKS Instruments, Tokai Carbon Korea, Toto and Ultra Clean Technology.

Light Polymers has announced a round of funding. The nanochemistry startup obtained funding from JSR, Tsingda International Venture Investments and TEL Venture Capital.

Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TEL) has been selected for inclusion in the “Dow Jones Sustainability Asia Pacific” Index (DJSI Asia Pacific) for the second straight year. The DJSI Asia Pacific is a stock index.

ACM Research is filing an initial public offering, according to a filing. ACM develops, manufactures and sells single-wafer wet cleaning equipment.

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KLA-Tencor has rolled out five new systems for semiconductor and photomask applications. The products include the following tools:
•The new ATL is an overlay metrology system. It makes use of a tunable laser technology with 1nm resolution to maintain accurate overlay error measurements.
•The latest film metrology system, dubbed the SpectraFilm F1, employs new optical technologies that determine single- and multi-layer film thicknesses and uniformity.
•The Teron 640e reticle inspection system detects critical pattern and particle defects at high throughputs. It is geared for both EUV and optical masks.
•The new LMS IPRO7 is a reticle registration metrology system. It leverages a new operating mode to measure on-device reticle pattern placement error with fast cycle times.
•The 5D Analyzer X1 data analysis system accepts data from a range of metrology and process tools to enable advanced analysis, characterization and real-time control of fab-wide process variations.

Market research
The latest update to SEMI’s World Fab Forecast report reveals record spending for fab equipment. 2017 fab equipment spending is expected to increase by 37%, reaching a new annual spending record of about $55 billion. In 2018, fab equipment spending will increase another 5% for another record high of about $58 billion.

SEMI has announced a partnership with SAE International, the association driving knowledge and expertise across automotive and aerospace industries. The partnership will provide its respective members with insights and access to important markets. The partnership will include information-sharing, presentation opportunities, and branding and exposition opportunities for members from both organizations.