Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

UMC buys out fab JV; AMD supplier awards; China CapEx.


Chipmakers and OEMs
Fujitsu Semiconductor and United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) announced that UMC will acquire all of the shares of Mie Fujitsu Semiconductor Limited (MIFS), a 300mm wafer foundry joint venture between both companies. In addition to the 15.9% of MIFS shares currently owned by UMC, Fujitsu Semiconductor will transfer the remaining 84.1% of its shares in MIFS to UMC, making MIFS a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Taiwan-based foundry. The consideration of the transaction will be around ¥JPN 57.6 billion. The transfer is planned for Jan. 1, 2019, pending approval by the relevant governmental authorities.

AMD has announced the awards for its key suppliers in the materials, services and technology arena. The winners are Edelman, GlobalFoundries, Ibiden, Jentech, PC Partner, Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Siliconware Precision Industries (SPIL) and TF-AMD. (Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) and SPIL recently merged.)

GlobalFoundries will manufacture Socionext’s latest graphics display controllers, the SC1701, on GF’s 55nm Low Power Extended (55LPx) process technology with embedded non-volatile memory (SuperFlash). The 55LPx platform enables several new features in Socionext’s SC1701 series, including enhanced diagnostic and security protection capabilities, cyclic redundancy code (CRC) checks, picture freeze detection, and multi window signature unit for advanced in-vehicle display systems.

TowerJazz has announced the ramp for its radio-frequency silicon-on-insulator (RF SOI) 65nm process in its 300mm Uozu, Japan fab. TowerJazz has also signed a contract with long-term partner, Soitec, to guarantee a supply of tens of thousands of 300mm SOI silicon wafers.

Europe’s IC industry is requesting more funding from the European Union to develop artificial intelligence and other technologies, according to a report from Reuters.

Memory maker Adesto Technologies has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Echelon for $8.50 per share. Echelon is a pioneer in the development of open-standard networking platforms for connecting, monitoring and controlling devices in commercial and industrial applications. The acquisition price represents a total equity value of approximately $45 million, and a total enterprise value of about $30 million, after accounting for Echelon’s cash and investments on its balance sheet at March 31, 2018, as well as expected transaction expenses of approximately $4 million.

WaterBit, an autonomous irrigation solutions (AIS) company, has completed a $11.4 million Series A round of financing led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), with participation from T.J. Rodgers, former CEO of Cypress Semiconductor, and Heuristic Capital. WaterBit enables growers to control irrigation.

Materials and equipment
SEMI has announced the formation of the SEMI Electronic Materials Group (EMG), a new collaborative technology community that combines the former Chemical & Gas Manufacturers Group (CGMG), the Silicon Manufacturers Group (SMG) and other SEMI member segments to better serve the interests of the electronics materials industry. The group is open to SEMI Members involved in materials, distribution and services.

Copper interconnects turned 20 years old this month, according to a blog from Lam Research. The technology faces challenges, but copper continues to roll on.

Brewer Science has been awarded a 2018 Top Workplaces honor by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Based on feedback obtained through an anonymous employee survey, the designation recognizes St. Louis-area employers.

Will panel-level fan-out ever take off? There are several vendors developing the technology, but it is in dire need of standards. To help in this arena, the SEMI Fan-Out Panel Level Packaging (FO-PLP) Panel Task Force is focused on helping the industry define a single panel substrate dimension for fan-out manufacturing. At Semicon West, the group will hold a three-hour working session in the arena.

Market research
IC Insights forecasts that China-based companies will spend $11.0 billion in semiconductor industry capital spending in 2018. This would represent 10.6% of the expected worldwide outlays of $103.5 billion. “Not only would this amount be 5x what the Chinese companies spent only three years earlier in 2015, but it would also exceed the combined semiconductor industry capital spending of Japan- and Europe-headquartered companies this year,” according to IC Insights.

In a blog on the SEMI site, Walt Custer of Custer Consulting Group talks about the World Bank’s move to updated its multi-year forecast for GDP.

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