The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Talent/trade issues; SiP EDA; Samsung CapEx; flying cars.

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Fab tools
SEMI has announced an urgent call to action to overcome the pressing semiconductor industry challenge of recruiting new talent. In a letter to the CEOs of more than 2,000 global SEMI member companies, Ajit Manocha, SEMI’s president and CEO, called on the executives to act together to attract workers and develop the workforce vital to industry growth.

In addition, it is a turbulent time for trade. “International trade is one of the best tools to spur growth and create high-skill and high-paying jobs. Over 40 million American jobs rely on trade, and this is particularly true in the semiconductor supply chain. Over the past three decades, the semiconductor industry has averaged nearly double-digit growth rates in revenue and, by 2030, the semiconductor supply chain is forecast to reach $1 trillion. Trade paves the way for this growth,” said Jay Chittooran, manager of public policy at SEMI, in a blog posting. “Unfortunately, despite its importance to the industry, trade has been transformed from an economic issue into a political one, raising many new trade challenges to companies throughout the semiconductor industry.”

Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TEL) posted its results. Officials from TEL also see a 10% jump in capital spending for 2018, thanks to memory.

Packaging and test
Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) and Cadence Design Systems have collaborated in the development of a system-in-package (SiP) EDA solution. The solution addresses the challenges of designing and verifying ASE’s Fan-Out Chip-on-Substrate (FOCoS) multi-die packages. The solution consists of the SiP-id (System-in-Package-intelligent design) design kit, an enhanced reference flow including IC packaging and verification tools from Cadence, and a new methodology that aggregates the requirements of wafer-, package- and system-level design into a unified and automated flow. The technology reduces the time needed to design and verify SiP packages.

ASE also posted its results. Sales were $2.8 billion for the fourth quarter, up 14% sequentially. For the year, ASE’s sales were $9.6 billion, up 12% from the like period a year ago.

National Instruments (NI) has announced plans to collaborate with Shanghai University on a testbed focused on 5G ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC) for V2X applications.

Advantest posted its results for the quarter. Sales were up 29.5% amid strong demand for memory and logic testers.

Chipmakers
Samsung posted its results. “Samsung reported earnings, outlining expectations for relatively balanced DRAM and NAND supply and demand in 2018. While it conceded that NAND pricing could ease in 1H, it also maintained that NAND industry bit growth would be moderate. It expects around 20% DRAM industry bit growth and 40% NAND industry bit growth in 2018, relatively in line with general expectations,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst with KeyBanc Capital Markets, in a research report.

Samsung’s semiconductor capital spending was $24.2 billion in 2017, down from its previous of $26.2 billion, according to Twigg. “Samsung noted that its capex would likely decline in 2018, though it didn’t clarify whether its semiconductor capex, display capex, or both would decline. It had previously indicated to us that its display capex would likely be down meaningfully in 2018, which could mean its semiconductor capex will be closer to flat.

“For now, we’re modeling Samsung’s semiconductor capex to decline to $22.6 billion, down about 7% year-over-year in USD terms; for reference, we project its foundry capex down 31%, its DRAM capex up 21%, and its NAND capex down 9% year-over-year,” he said. “Our worldwide wafer fab equipment (WFE) forecast now indicates a 5% year-over-year increase, a moderate improvement over the 4% increase we projected at the beginning of earnings, but down from the 6% that we projected after Intel raised its capex budget last week. We now project 2018 WFE to be $47.0 billion.”

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Flying car startup Joby Aviation has secured $100 million in Series B financing. The funding will allow Joby to take its all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) passenger aircraft into pre-production and certification. Investors include Intel Capital, EDBI, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, Allen & Company, AME Cloud Ventures, Ron Conway, Capricorn Investment Group, 8VC, Sky Dayton and Paul Sciarra.

Joby Aviation’s eVTOL technology is optimized for local and regional air-transportation-as-a-service. Joby Aviation’s 5-seat vehicle will be faster than existing rotorcraft, fly at least 150 miles on a charge, and be 100 times quieter than conventional aircraft during takeoff and landing, and near-silent in flyover. With its previously-unannounced Series A financing led by Capricorn in 2016, this brings the company’s total funding to over $130 million.



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