The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Buyer emerges for IBM chip biz; GF-Samsung align; Applied’s take on SPIE; DNP talks litho.

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GlobalFoundries has emerged as the leading candidate to buy IBM’s semiconductor unit, according to Reuters, which cited the Wall Street Journal as it source. IBM, which recently put its semiconductor unit on the block, has held discussions with GlobalFoundries, Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. GlobalFoundries did not respond to the reports by press time.

GlobalFoundries has been developing its own finFET technology. Initially, however, the foundry will use its own fab capacity for Samsung’s finFET technology, according to Pacific Crest Securities. “We believe that GlobalFoundries is aligning itself with Samsung for 14nm finFET production using Samsung’s technology, and Apple is likely evaluating both Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) and Samsung/GlobalFoundries for its upcoming finFET chip. Samsung has been the primary foundry for Apple’s processors to date, but TSMC won the 20nm business (which is ramping now), in our view. If Samsung regains at least a portion of Apple’s leading-edge business, it should keep the foundry landscape competitive,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst with Pacific Crest, in a research note.

Regarding the separate reports on IBM and Samsung, a spokesman for GlobalFoundries said: “Unfortunately both of these items are based on rumors so I don’t have anything to add. As a matter of policy, we don’t comment on rumors and speculation.”

AMD has amended its wafer supply agreement (WSA) with GlobalFoundries for 2014. Under the terms, AMD expects to pay GlobalFoundries approximately $1.2 billion in 2014. “Unlike other revisions to the agreement, this does not include any one-time incremental payments by AMD to GF (other than for the wafers). The $1.2 billion estimate is up from the $962 million AMD paid to GF in 2013, although we note that the 2014 agreement includes a portion of AMD’s GPU and semi-custom products previously manufactured by TSMC. Recall that the original 2013 agreement with GF called for $1.15 billion in purchases from AMD; thus, the new agreement is actually only modestly higher (despite the inclusion of the GPUs and semi-custom business),” said Hans Mosesmann, an analyst with Raymond James.

At the recent SPIE Advanced Lithography conference, Applied Materials focused on how improvements in metrology, multi-patterning techniques and materials can enable 3D memory and chip scaling.

In a video, Naoya Hayashi of DNP looks at mask trends and reports on the results for MB-MDP.

Telit Wireless Solutions, a supplier of machine-to-machine (M2M) modules, has concluded the acquisition of the Automotive Telematics On-board unit Platform (ATOP) business from NXP.

TowerJazz announced the kick-off of its joint fab/foundry venture with Panasonic. Panasonic transferred its semiconductor manufacturing process and capacity tools of 200mm and 300mm wafers at its Hokuriku factories to the venture. TowerJazz is holding 51% of the shares of the venture. Panasonic will be a 49% shareholder. In addition, TowerJazz intends to cease the operations of its Nishiwaki fab facility.

ReRAM startup Crossbar has completed a $25 million Series C funding. Participating in the round were Crossbar’s existing investors Artiman Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Northern Light Venture Capital and the University of Michigan. In addition, new investors included SAIF Partners, Korea Investment Partners, CBC-Capital and Tao Venture Capital Partners.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania issued its judgment on the remaining motions in a suit brought by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) against Marvell. The court rejected CMU’s motion for an injunction which would block Marvell from selling chips that the jury found to be infringing. The court also rejected CMU’s demand for approximately $326 million in pre-judgment interest, and substantially scaled back CMU’s request for enhanced damages. Based on these decisions, the court calculated the damages, including enhancement, to total approximately $1.54 billion.

Thomas Novak, chief executive and president of Nikon Research Corp. of American (NRCA), is retiring. Novak will be replaced by Donis Flagello.

IC Insights showed big changes for its 2013 top 20 semi supplier ranking. The top 20 ranking includes three pure-play foundries–TSMC, GlobalFoundries, and UMC–and five fabless companies. Meanwhile, Gartner has a different take on the chip ranking.