The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Report: IBM sells chip unit to GF; Intel vs. IBM at IEDM; finFET race; Vietnam fab; BACUS recap; CapEx forecast.

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It’s official: IBM appears to be exiting the chip business. After months of talks, IBM has agreed to pay GlobalFoundries $1.5 billion to take Big Blue’s chip unit off its hands, according to reports from Bloomberg. IBM will also receive $200 million worth of assets, according to the reports.

At the upcoming IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), Intel and IBM will present dueling approaches to the development of finFET technology for the 14nm node. IEDM will be held in San Francisco from Dec. 15-17, 2014. Intel, which began using finFETs at 22nm, will detail its second-generation finFET technology, based on bulk CMOS. Regarding its 14nm finFET, Intel will discuss the following technologies at IEDM: a novel doping technique to prevent current leakage under the fins and to maintain very low doped fins; two levels of air-gap-insulated interconnects at 80nm and 160nm minimum pitches; eight layers of 52nm pitch interconnects embedded in low-k dielectrics; an embedded 140Mb SRAM memory with a tiny cell size of 0.0588µm2; and saturated drive currents. IBM, meanwhile, will describe a different approach to 14nm finFET transistors using SOI. It features an embedded DRAM technology with a cell size of just 0.0174µm2. IBM will also talk about a dual-workfunction process that optimizes the threshold voltages of both NMOS and PMOS transistors without any mobility degradation in the channel.

TSMC recently said that its latest 16nm finFET technology won’t ship until late 2015, which is later than expected. As a result, TSMC may lose initial finFET orders from Appleand Qualcommto two foundry rivals, GlobalFoundries and Samsung, according to analysts. In its results this week, however, TSMC said it plans to speed up its finfET ramp. ”As 16nm finFET progress is ahead of schedule, TSMC now expects mass production for 16nm finFET to begin in late Q2 or early Q3 next year, compared to prior expectations of 4Q15. As a result, TSMC expects the share loss at 14nm/16nm finFET in 2015 to be lower than original expectations. We believe revenue contribution from 16nm finFET will be in the high single-digit percentage next year,” said Michael McConnell, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities, in a research note.

Fabs in Vietnam? The 2nd annual SEMI Vietnam Semiconductor Strategy Summit was recently held in Ho Chi Minh City. Of particular interest to the audience was the keynote presentation by Pham Ba Tuan, senior expert at CNS, the company tasked with executing a 200mm fab project in the Saigon Hi-Tech Park.

In a video, Aki Fujimura, CEO of D2S, shares his thoughts on the key themes and hot topics at BACUS.

In another video, Kang-Hoon Choi of Fraunhofer CNT explores the capabilities, limitations and requirements of corner rounding correction in mask data preparation.

Qualcomm has signed a deal to acquire CSR for $2.5 billion. Microchip was also looking to buy CSR, but Qualcomm apparently had a better offer, according to reports.

AMD announced mixed results for third quarter of 2014. AMD also plans to reduce its headcount by 7%, which will be completed by the end of Q4 2014.

Samsung recently announced plans to build a new wafer fab. The new fab, slated to begin production in 2017, will add to Samsung’s current compilation of wafer fabs, according to IC Insights.

Worldwide semiconductor capital spending is projected to total $64.5 billion in 2014, an increase of 11.4% from 2013 spending of $57.8 billion, according to Gartner. Capital equipment spending will increase 17.1% in 2014, driven by strong memory average selling prices and increased demand for consumer products.

The market for commercial uses of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, will grow to $1.7 billion in 2025, driven by a broad range of applications led by agriculture, according to Lux Research.