The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Virtual fabs; DSA; pattern roughness; 5G; fab closures.


Fab tools
Samsung Electronics has broken ground on a new extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography facility in Hwaseong, South Korea. The new EUV facility is expected to be completed within the second half of 2019 with production slated for 2020. The initial investment in the new EUV line is projected to reach $6 billion by 2020.

Imec and Cadence Design Systems have collaborated on the development of the industry’s first 3nm test chip tapeout. The tapeout project was completed using EUV and 193nm immersion lithography. It also used Cadence’s Innovus Implementation System and Genus Synthesis Solution line of EDA tools. In the project, Imec devised a 64-bit CPU with a custom 3nm standard cell library. The routing pitch was reduced to 21nm.

Brewer Science has introduced its OptiLign directed self-assembly (DSA) material set developed in collaboration with Arkema. The OptiLign system includes three materials required for self-assembly: block copolymers, neutral layers and guiding layers. Developed together for optimal performance, these DSA materials are manufactured on Brewer Science’s commercial manufacturing equipment. The technology provides a cost-effective path to advanced-node wafer patterning processes for feature sizes down to 12nm.

Coventor, a Lam Research Company, has announced the availability of SEMulator3D 7.0 – the newest version of its semiconductor virtual fabrication platform. SEMulator3D 7.0 addresses both process and device simulation while lowering the barriers to advanced semiconductor technology development. The new Device Analysis capability within the technology enables a seamless understanding of how a process changes as well as the process variability issues. “With each release of SEMulator3D, we are providing more and more powerful process and behavioral information,” said David Fried, vice president of computational products for Coventor. “The new Device Analysis feature set, combined with our previously-released Electrical Analysis module, make SEMulator3D a more complete solution for advanced semiconductor technology development by enabling improved insight into the effect of process modifications on device performance.”

Fractilia, a provider of pattern roughness measurement technology, has released new capabilities in its MetroLER software to help the semiconductor industry move EUV lithography towards high volume manufacturing. “MetroLER now provides accurate measurements of contact hole features with important metrics such as local CDU, edge placement error, and pattern placement error, as well as the fraction of merged and missing contacts (stochastic failures). With these metrics customers can make significantly better decisions regarding the optimal process conditions that reduce failure rates of contact holes, especially for EUV processes,” said Chris Mack, chief technology officer of Fractilia.

Test and measurement
National Instruments (NI) has announced a sub-6 GHz 5G test reference solution compliant with the 3GPP Release 15 specification for the 5G New Radio (NR) standard. With commercial 5G NR deployments below 6 GHz on the horizon, engineers are developing sub-6 GHz 5G RF components and devices. NI’s reference solution helps engineers quickly characterize their designs, enabling the technology to move from R&D to production. In addition, NI has rolled out new CompactRIO Controllers that include NI-DAQmx and Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) technologies. These controllers offer deterministic communication and synchronized measurements across standard Ethernet networks to increase performance and help improve productivity.

Astronics reported its financial results for the three and twelve months ended Dec. 31. Test system sales in the fourth quarter increased $5.7 million to $31.8 million, compared with the same period in 2016, an increase of 22.0%.

OEMs and chipmakers
Amazon is planning to buy Ring, a maker of smart doorbells and other products, for $1 billion, according to a report from GeekWire. Ring’s Video Doorbell connects to a home Wi-Fi network and sends real-time notifications to smart phones or tablets when someone is at your door. The goal? There is an increase in stolen packages delivered by Amazon at the front door and Ring may prevent these types of crimes. “Unlike traditional security systems, which only help you react to crimes, Ring is proactive security that lets you stop crime before it happens,” according to Ring.

GlobalFoundries and eVaderis are co-developing an ultra-low power microcontroller (MCU) reference design using GF’s embedded MRAM (eMRAM) memory technology on a 22nm FD-SOI platform. The companies will deliver a technology solution that supports a broad set of applications, such as battery-powered IoT products, consumer and industrial microcontrollers, and automotive controllers. Meanwhile, Dream Chip Technologies has announced record power efficiency of its ADAS system-on-chip (SoC) technology for automotive computer vision applications. The device is fabricated on GlobalFoundries’ 22nm FD-SOI process at the foundry’s Fab 1 facility in Dresden, Germany.

SMIC, the Shaoxing Government, and the Shengyang Group have formed Semiconductor Manufacturing Electronics (Shaoxing) Corp. The signing of the joint venture agreement marks the start of a project to bring the manufacturing of MEMS and power devices to Shaoxing, China.

Microchip has signed a deal to acquire Microsemi for $68.78 per share in cash. The acquisition price represents a total equity value of about $8.35 billion, and a total enterprise value of about $10.15 billion, after accounting for Microsemi’s cash and investments, net of debt, on its balance sheet at Dec. 31, 2017. Here is more information about the deal.

TDK has reached an agreement to acquire Chirp Microsystems, a pioneer in ultrasonic sensing technology for a range of products. Chirp will become a subsidiary of TDK.

Market research
From 2009 to 2017, semiconductor manufacturers around the world have closed or repurposed 92 wafer fabs, according to IC Insights. Since 2009, 41% of fab closures have been 150mm fabs and 26% have been 200mm wafer fabs. 300mm wafer fabs have accounted for only 10% of total fab closures since 2009, according to the market research firm.

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