The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Intel’s fab expansion plans; Russia’s 300mm fab; mask hot spots; ATE voices.

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Intel has submitted a business plan to upgrade its fab in Israel, according to reports.

Crocus Nano Electronics (CNE), the joint venture founded in 2011 by Crocus Technology and Russia’s RUSNANO, has raised $60 million from its investors. The venture is Russia’s first 300mm fab. This first production line was completed one year after construction began. Currently, 200mm and 300mm CMOS wafers can be deposited with magnetic layers to create memory cells. CNE is ramping up with the objective to turn out 500 wafers per week by the end of 2014.

In a blog, Aki Fujimura, chairman and CEO of D2S, talked about hot spots. “The same types of physics-based issues that have haunted lithography for decades have started to impact mask writing as well. The increasingly small and complex mask shapes specified by optical proximity correction (OPC) that are now required for faithful wafer lithography at 28nm-and-below nodes have given rise to an increase in mask hotspots,” he said.

Advantest’s annual VOICE Developer Conference kicks off on May 12 in Silicon Valley, Calif. and May 15 in Austin, Texas.

Lam Research announced that its board has approved a $1.0 billion capital return program with the initiation of the company’s first ever quarterly dividend and an $850 million share repurchase plan.

SMIC plans to boost its CapEx to approximately $1 billion, from $880 million in the previous forecast.

Boston Semi Equipment LLC (BSE) has completed the purchase of the test handler assets of Aetrium. Aetrium’s products and served markets are complementary to BSE’s current automated test equipment (ATE) product lines, as gravity test handlers are used in conjunction with a significant percentage of all semiconductor ATE systems

Brooks Automation has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Dynamic Micro Systems (DMS). DMS, based in Radolfzell, Germany, provides automated cleaner and stocker products for wafer and reticle carrier devices.

Cirrus Logic plans to acquire Wolfson at a price of £2.35 per share in cash, implying an enterprise value of £278 million, or approximately $467 million. The transaction, if approved, is expected to strengthen Cirrus Logic’s ability to expand its customer base with end-to-end audio solutions for portable audio applications.

Exar has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Integrated Memory Logic Ltd., a provider of analog mixed-signal solutions for the flat panel display market.

GaN has finally caught on in commercial RF markets, according to Strategy Analytics. It is also expanding in other fronts.

The worldwide semiconductor assembly and test services (SATS) market totaled $25.1 billion in 2013, a 2.3% increase from 2012, according to Gartner. The top three vendors, ASE, Amkor Technology and SPIL, grew faster than the market average.

Intel continues to dominate the microprocessor business, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the market’s total sales in 2013, according to IC Insights. But the company’s huge MPU market share is being chipped away by strong growth in ARM-built processors, according to the firm.

The worldwide smartphone market began the year with an expected retrenchment from holiday quarter shipment volumes, but still posted a year-over-year increase in the first quarter of 2014, according to IDC.