The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Foundry rankings; GF’s SerDes; handlers; phablets.


The 2017 top-ten rankings of foundries remain the same as last year, according to TrendForce. TSMC, GlobalFoundries and United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) rank first, second, and third, respectively, in terms of projected sales in 2017, according to TrendForce. TSMC has a dominant market share of 55.9%. In the rankings, Samsung is in fourth place, followed in order by SMIC, TowerJazz, Powerchip, Vanguard, Hua Hong and Dongbu, according to the firm.

Fig. 1: Top 10 foundries by revenue. (Samsung, Powerchip numbers are estimates). Source: TrendForce

GlobalFoundries has demonstrated a next-generation 112Gbps SerDes capability. GF’s High Speed SerDes (HSS) solution is designed for 112G to 56G, 30G and 16G SerDes IPs. They enable connectivity for cloud computing, hyperscale data centers and networking applications. The 112G SerDes is designed in GF’s 14nm ASIC technology, and is capable of supporting several multi-level signaling schemes while targeting 25dB+ insertion loss interconnects.

SiFive has joined GlobalFoundries’ FDXcelerator Partner Program. SiFive will be making its RISC-V CPU IPs—such as the E31 and E51 RISC-V cores– available on GF’s 22nm FD-SOI process technology. Based on the open source RISC-V ISA, the E31 offers embedded chip designers new capabilities in high performance within strict area and power requirements. The E51 offers 64-bit performance at 32-bit price, power and area.

Soitec has announced the latest generation of silicon-on-insulator (SOI) substrates in its Imager-SOI product line. The technology is designed for fabricating front-side imagers for near-infrared (NIR) applications, including advanced 3D image sensors. The new SOI wafers from Soitec, which are now available, are designed for 3D cameras used in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), facial-recognition security systems, advanced human/machine interfaces and other applications.

Leti, a technology research institute of CEA Tech, has named Emmanuel Sabonnadiere as chief executive, succeeding Marie-Noelle Semeria. Sabonnadiere joins Leti from CEA Tech, where he led the industrial-partnership program.

IC packaging and test
Kyocera held a groundbreaking ceremony for a manufacturing plant expansion in Kirishima City, Kagoshima, Japan. The company plans to double its production capacity for fine ceramic structural components.

Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) has received several awards at the TCSA (Taiwan Corporate Sustainability Awards) ceremony. The TCSA is an annual sustainability program that awards local and foreign enterprises’ efforts in sustainability development issues.

Advantest has launched an automated IC handler with thermal control for use in semiconductor engineering labs. The system, dubbed the M4171, is a portable, single-site handler that automates device loading and unloading, thermal conditioning and binning in engineering labs.

National Instruments (NI) has rolled out the IC-3173 Industrial Controller, NI’s first IP67-rated controller. Industrial controllers are high-performance, fanless devices that deliver processing power and connectivity for automated image processing, data acquisition and control applications. NI’s new controller is suited to act as an Industrial Internet of Things edge node in harsh locations, including spray down manufacturing environments, test cells and outdoor locations without the need for a protective enclosure. The IP67 rating helps ensure reliable operation in the presence of dust and water, in accordance to IEC standard 60529.

Market research
Worldwide spending on augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) is forecast to reach $17.8 billion in 2018, an increase of nearly 95% over the $9.1 billion spent this year, according to International Data Corp. (IDC). “Virtual reality will continue to drive greater levels of spending in the next 12-18 months, as both consumer and commercial use cases gain traction. There is currently a huge appetite from companies that see tremendous potential in the technology, from product design to retail sales to employee training,” said Tom Mainelli, an analyst at IDC. “Meanwhile, the augmented reality market will deliver more modest levels of spending near term with mobile AR on smartphones and tablets likely to garner the most attention from consumers, while head-mounted displays will primarily sell into commercial use cases.”

Then, in another major trend, the phablet is a hot product. In total, smartphone shipments will grow from 1.5 billion units in 2017 to 1.7 billion units in 2021, according to IDC. Meanwhile, phablets (smartphones with a screen size of 5.5 inches to <7 inches) will far outpace total market growth by climbing from 611 million units in 2017 to 1 billion units in 2021, representing a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.1%, according to IDC.

In comparison, the total smartphone market is expected to grow at a 3.0% CAGR during the same period, while normal smartphones (under 5.5 inches) will decline 7.4%.

Android-based phablets have been the primary driver of large-screen smartphones, according to IDC. Samsung was the early leader in the arena, but China has gained ground in the market. Apple has also made a massive push into the phablet space. IDC expects its Plus and X devices to account for 41.2% of its shipment volume in 2017 and 50% or more of Apple’s iPhone shipments in 2018.

“In 2012, phablets were just 1% of smartphone shipments and now they are approaching 50% of the market just a few years later,” said Ryan Reith, an analyst with IDC. “The rapid transition to bezel-less smartphones will help minimize the device footprint while growing the screen size from previous generations. Consumers continue to consume more video entertainment, gaming, social media, and other data-heavy applications on their smartphones making the display size and type a critical factor in smartphone buying decisions.”

IDC analyst Anthony Scarsella added: “There is no doubt that 2017 gave birth to the new ultra high-end segment of the smartphone market. The latest flagship devices from Samsung, Apple, Google, LG, and others has pushed the high end to the $850-plus level for the first time. Despite these price hikes, consumers look as if they are willing to swallow the cost just to have the latest and greatest device in their pockets. Although many consumers may not be able to afford these devices in more price sensitive markets, programs such as device financing combined with trade-in policies are making these devices more attainable to buyers in a number of markets. This growth at the ultra high end translates to higher average selling prices (ASPs) for smartphones throughout the forecast period. By 2021, the last year of our forecast, smartphones will reach an ASP of $317, up from $282 in 2016, representing a CAGR of 2.3%.”

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