The Week In Review: Manufacturing

More IBM job cuts; mixed GaN; embedded PoP; nanoimprint deal.

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IBM continues to cut jobs, according to IEEE Spectrum and an IBM employee organization. Meanwhile, IBM and SUNY Polytechnic Institute announced that more than 220 engineers and scientists who lead IBM’s advanced chip R&D efforts at SUNY Poly’s Albany Nanotech campus will become part of IBM Research.

While military applications continue to experience strong growth in RF gallium-nitride (GaN) device usage, commercial applications for the technology are finally seeing widespread adoption, according to Strategy Analytics. On the other hand, GaN-on-silicon for power applications is still in the early stages. “I am under the impression it’s a slow haul,” said Stephan Ohr, an analyst with Gartner. “You start knocking on doors and ask: ‘Are you on 6-inch wafers?’ They will say yes and the real answer is no. They are still experimenting with 2-inch wafers that have been used for manufacturing LEDs. I don’t get the sense that there are a lot of parts out there.”

For decades, gold bonding wire was the mainstay material in wire-bonded packages, according to SEMI. Now, it’s a different story. “In 2014, total copper wire, including both bare copper and PCC (palladium-coated copper), captured 48% of the shipment share and silver-type wire grew to an 8% share. In 2015, it is forecasted that this trend will continue with total copper wire shipments topping 50% of the total shipment share and silver wire gaining some share as well,” said Dan Tracy, an analyst at SEMI.

Samsung Electronics announced that it is now mass producing the industry’s first ePoP (embedded package on package) memory–a single memory package consisting of 3GB LPDDR3 DRAM, 32GB eMMC and a controller.

Toshiba has entered into a definitive agreement with SK Hynix on joint development of nanoimprint lithography. Engineers from the two companies will start development of basic technologies for the process at Toshiba’s Yokohama Complex in Yokohama, Japan. For years, Toshiba has been developing nanoimprint processes for NAND flash. The company is using tools from Canon Nanotechnologies, formerly Molecular Imprints.

MOCVD tool provider Aixtron plans to reduce around 60 of about 800 jobs across the group.

On Jan. 16th, Soitec’s board decided to implement a strategic plan, which aims to re-focus the company’s activities on its core electronics business. As a result, the company appears to be downsizing its solar business. Soitec triggered a first batch of cost cutting actions freezing or cancelling many operating charges and reducing headcount by around 100 people in the United States.

Xcerra announced the acquisition of Titan Semiconductor Tool. Titan sells products for semiconductor test serving the automotive, wireless, and mixed signal markets.

Sony is announcing the discontinuation of its fab operations at Sony Semiconductor Oita Technology Center. This is a base for the production of high-density semiconductors such as LSIs. In addition, Sony plans to increase its production capacity for stacked CMOS image sensors.

Intel has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Lantiq, a supplier of networking chip technologies.

MaxLinear has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Entropic.

Silicon Labs has acquired Bluegiga Technologies, a provider of short-range wireless connectivity devices.

IXYS has signed a definitive agreement to acquire RadioPulse. Based in Seoul, Korea, the fabless semiconductor company sells wireless network technology solutions based on the ZigBee protocol.