The Week In Review: Manufacturing

IC rankings; GF’s ASICs; Samsung’s finFETs; AMAT’s results.


IC Insights released its preliminary top IC rankings in terms of sales for 2015. In the rankings, Intel remains in first place in terms of chip sales in 2015, followed by Samsung and TSMC. GlobalFoundries and UMC also moved up in the rankings. Beyond that, the market is in flux. “The pending mergers of Avago and Broadcom and NXP and Freescale will have a significant impact on future top-20 rankings,” according to IC Insights. “The combination of Avago and Broadcom’s sales in 2015 ($15.4 billion) is forecast to be enough to move the company into the 6th spot while the combined 2015 sales of NXP and Freescale ($10.2 billion) are forecast to be enough to move the new entity into the 8th position. IC Insights believes that additional acquisitions and mergers over the next few years are likely to continue to shake up the future top-20 semiconductor company rankings.”


In July, GlobalFoundries completed its previously-announced acquisition of IBM’s chip unit. With the deal, GlobalFoundries gained access to leading-edge technology, fabs and IP.

The move also propelled GlobalFoundries into the ASIC business. Prior to the deal, IBM was one of the world’s biggest ASIC houses, offering a variety of technologies and services. Previously, IBM’s most advanced ASICs were 45nm and 32nm technologies, based on silicon-on-insulator (SOI) substrates.

This week, GlobalFoundries unveiled its strategy in ASICs. As part of its efforts, GlobalFoundries announced the availability of FX-14, an ASIC offering built on the company’s next-generation, bulk-based 14nm finFET process technology. The ASIC technology is based on the company’s 14LPP process.

It also includes a plethora of chip intellectual-property (IP). The big driver for ASICs is wireless, wireline, among other markets, according to Aashish Malhotra, director of the ASIC offering and business development at GlobalFoundries.

“There is a tremendous amount of design activity now in the wireline and wireless infrastructure,” Malhotra said. “If I look at my business, it’s a lot more gated towards 14nm, than say 32nm. We do see some 32nm. But a lot of the focus is on 14nm. And that’s what customers are trying to do.”

In a video, Malhotra elaborated on the strategy. Meanwhile, for some time, the ASIC market has witnessed a noticeable trend. ASIC design starts are decreasing each year, but the value of the chips, and the complexity, are increasing at each node. “The landscape is such that the value of the ASIC design and the reuse is significantly higher,” he added.

The FX-14 ASIC offering includes ARM cores and physical IP. The lineup of cores for system-on-chip designs include 64-bit ARM Cortex-A72 and ARM Cortex-A53 processors. The FX-14 offering also includes Serdes, such as 16G, 30G and 56G offerings. The 14LPP technology offering was qualified in the third quarter of 2015 and is on track for volume production in 2016. FX-14 design kits are available to customers now.


Cadence, Mentor Graphics and Synopsys separately announced third-party EDA tools for GlobalFoundries’ 22nm fully-depleted silicon-on-insulator (FD-SOI) process. Ansys also provided support for GlobalFoundries.

GlobalFoundries has gained rights to purchase 135 acres of land next to its 300mm fab in New York, according to the Albany Business Review. With the land, the company may build another fab.

Samsung announced the newest member of its Exynos family of application processors, the Exynos 8 Octa 8890. This chip is Samsung’s second application processor built on 14nm finFET process technology. Unlike the previous Exynos 7 Octa 7420, the Exynos 8 Octa is an integrated one-chip solution that features the company’s first custom designed CPU based on the 64-bit ARMv8 architecture and the latest LTE Rel.12 Cat.12/13 modem.

Applied Materials reported results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Oct. 25, 2015. Fourth quarter orders were $2.42 billion, down 16% sequentially and up 7% year-over-year. Net sales were $2.37 billion, down 5% sequentially and up 5% year over year. “In fiscal 2015, Applied Materials delivered year-over-year growth across our semiconductor, display and service businesses resulting in our highest earnings in four years,” said Gary Dickerson, president and CEO. “We have positioned the company for sustainable profitable growth and we are winning share, growing our service business and expanding our available market.”

Worldwide silicon wafer area shipments decreased during the third quarter 2015 when compared to second quarter area shipments, according to the SEMI Silicon Manufacturers Group (SMG). Total silicon wafer area shipments were 2,591 million square inches during the most recent quarter, a 4.1% decrease from the record amount of 2,702 million square inches shipped during the previous quarter.

Rudolph Technologies announced that Paul McLaughlin will retire as chief executive, effective Dec. 30, 2015. Michael Plisinski has been named the company’s next chief executive. He has also been appointed as a director of the company.

In a video, Markus Waiblinger of Zeiss explains how e-beam technology represents a paradigm shift in photomask repair.

Sigma Designs has entered into an agreement to acquire privately-held Bretelon for $22 million in cash. Bretelon, in turn, will become Sigma’s Mobile IoT product line.

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