The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Intel to delay 10nm?; who won Apple’s foundry biz?; Moore’s Law celebration; material world.


Intel is quietly delaying its process ramp at the 10nm node, according to multiple sources.

In an e-mail, a spokesman for Intel said: “We have not disclosed a schedule for our 10nm process and we won’t engage in speculation about it.”

In March, though, Intel was supposed to make fab tool buys for high-volume manufacturing at 10nm, sources said. But now, those purchases won’t happen until December of this year, according to sources.

The company is setting up a small pilot line for 10nm production in Oregon, but the 10nm production fab will actually be located in Israel. In 2008, Intel opened its second fab in Kiryat Gat, Israel. That plant, Fab 28, is a high-volume manufacturing fab, which runs 300mm wafers on a 45nm and below process technology. That fab is being upgraded and expected to run 10nm technology.

10nm volume production may occur in 2016, which is later than expected. The reported move to push out its 10nm node follows delays at 14nm. Intel moved into production at 14nm late last year, which was six or so months later than expected. Intel blamed the delay on yield issues.


Intel’s proposed move to acquire Altera has ended, at least for now. The companies could not come to an agreement on price, according to CNBC, Reuters and others.

Intel has consolidated its loss-ridden Mobile & Communications Group (MCG) into the PC Client Group (PCCG). But the PCCG unit is also suffering amid an ongoing slowdown in PCs. “Structurally, we believe this is the right move, but from an investor perception perspective, it could be received with less optimism,” said RBC Capital Markets analyst Doug Freedman in a report. “We are combining a low-margin (hopefully) fast growing segment in the MCG business into a high-margin but slowly contracting PCCG business. As the mix of mobile business in the (combined group) grows, it could continue to pull down both gross and operating margins.”

So which company—Samsung or TSMC—won Apple’s A9 foundry business? It depends on who you talk to. “Consistent with our prior write-ups, our checks firmly suggest that Samsung has got the majority of Apple A9 orders for the iPhone and that TSMC has gotten the orders for the corresponding iPad application processor chip,” said Srini Sundararajan, an analyst with Summit Research Partners.

Pacific Crest Securities, however, believes that Samsung is on track to take Apple’s A9 foundry share. “Despite the ongoing debate in the investment community, our recent conversations with Samsung continue to indicate that the company expects to ramp meaningful 14nm finFET capacity in Q2 to support a large second customer,” said Michael McConnell, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities, in a report. “While Samsung (is) very careful not to name Apple as this customer, commentary regarding its 14nm ramp in late Q2 suggests that Apple is still the target, in our view.”

In an article, SEMI provides insights into China’s new national IC investment policy.

This month marks the 50th anniversary of Moore’s Law. SEMI describes what Moore’s Law has meant for the industry. In a separate blog, Lam Research talks about the innovations around Moore’s Law.

The global semiconductor materials market increased 3% in 2014 compared to 2013 while worldwide semiconductor revenues increased 10%, according to SEMI. Revenues of $44.3 billion mark the first increase in the semiconductor materials market since 2011.

Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE), the world’s largest semiconductor assembly and test service provider, hosted the ASE Group 2014 Best Supplier Awards ceremony. A total of 28 awards were presented to suppliers.


i7 says:

Small correction: Intel’s Fab28 runs HVM at 22nm, not 45

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