The Week In Review: Manufacturing

GF’s new CEO; new Micron fab?; Intel supplier awards; CMP.

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Chipmakers and OEMs
After more than four years as chief executive of GlobalFoundries, Sanjay Jha will hand over the company’s top position to Thomas Caulfield, senior vice president and general manager at the foundry vendor. Caulfield, who joined GlobalFoundries in 2014, will become CEO. He has been running the company’s fab in New York. “Jha intends to work closely with the company’s shareholder, Mubadala Investment Company, to explore the development and build out of potential future systems businesses,” according to the foundry vendor.

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Micron Technology is looking to build a new “mega-fab” in Singapore, according to sources. Micron has secured the land for the proposed fab, which will be used for 3D NAND and possibly 3D XPoint production, sources said. The company has other 200mm and 300mm fabs in Singapore.

Meanwhile, in January, Intel and Micron ended their long-running NAND joint development partnership. The companies will continue to develop NAND, but they will work independently on future generations of 3D NAND.

Both companies, however, will continue to jointly develop and manufacture 3D XPoint, a next-generation memory technology. 3D XPoint is made at Intel-Micron Flash Technologies (IMFT), a joint venture fab in Lehi, Utah.

IMFT is expanding its fab operations right now, according to sources, who said that the companies are also talking about a second fab. A spokesman for Micron declined to comment on the events in Singapore and said: “Micron does not comment on rumor or speculation. We are continuing to manufacture 3D XPoint at IMFT, which is our manufacturing JV with Intel in Lehi. As recently announced, this facility is now fully focused on 3D XPoint.”

Here’s another twist in the Micron-Intel saga: According to DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce, Intel and Tsinghua Unigroup are now discussing a collaboration in the 3D NAND arena. “Recently, Intel and UNIC Memory Technology, the storage business under Tsinghua Unigroup, are now discussing (a) long-term cooperation,” according to DRAMeXchange. “Under the agreement, UNIC will be responsible for products testing, packaging and selling based on NAND wafers provided by Intel.”

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Cree has acquired the assets of Infineon’s RF power business for approximately 345 million euros. The transaction expands Cree’s efforts in the wireless market. Separately, Analog Devices Inc. (ADI) has acquired Symeo GmbH, a company that specializes in RADAR hardware and software for emerging autonomous automotive and industrial applications.

Some 11 companies formed a group called Japan H2 Mobility, which is aimed at developing hydrogen stations for fuel cell vehicles (FCV) in Japan. The goal is to build a network of 320 stations by 2025, and 900 by 2030. Today, there are about 100 FCV stations in operation in Japan.

Fab tools and materials
Intel has announced its equipment and materials supplier awards. The chip giant recognized 35 suppliers for their commitment to quality in 2017. Intel has three levels of supplier recognition–the Supplier Continuous Quality Improvement (SCQI) award, the Preferred Quality Supplier (PQS) award and the Supplier Achievement Award (SAA).

The SCQI award is Intel’s most prestigious recognition and signifies an elite performance. For this, the seven companies recognized were Disco, JLL, Hitachi Kokusai, Mitsubishi Gas Chemical, Murata Machinery, Sumco and VWR. Meanwhile, the 21 companies recognized with Intel’s 2017 PQS award included Applied Materials, KLA-Tencor, Lam Research and Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TEL). Three companies were honored for diversity or safety. JLL and Lam Research were honored for “Distinguished Performance in Supplier Diversity.” Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc. was honored for “Distinguished Performance in Safety.”

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Brewer Science has introduced OptiLign, a directed self-assembly (DSA) material set developed in collaboration with Arkema. The OptiLign system currently includes three materials required for self-assembly: block copolymers, neutral layers and guiding layers. They provide a patterning process for feature sizes down to 12nm.

Market research
Demand for cryptocurrency devices has fueled a huge demand for flip-chip CSP and BGA packages, but few are willing to add foundry, substrate or assembly capacity for cryptocurrency, according to TechSearch International‘s latest Advanced Packaging Update.

TECHCET, an advisory services firm, sees an increased use of 3D structures in chips, propelling the demand for more chemical-mechanical-planarization (CMP) process steps. Due to the recent introduction of cobalt (Co) metal for interconnects, TECHCET is now tracking direct materials for Co CMP. The growing market for cobalt CMP slurry is estimated to be about $4 million this year. Global slurry and pad revenues for all CMP processes are forecast to reach $2.4 billion by the year 2022, according to the firm.

“The number of CMP process steps from 28nm- to 10nm-nodes has doubled, and advanced nodes clearly offer more opportunities for CMP and the need for more process consumable products,” explained Diane Scott, TECHCET senior analyst. “Based on our proprietary models, at and below the 14nm-node the transistor-level CMP steps exceed the number used to form metal interconnects.”



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