Week In Review: Manufacturing, Design, Test

Who will buy IBM’s chip biz?; metrology startup; GF is hiring; Applied-TEL; new resist maker.

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Reports have surfaced that IBM’s semiconductor unit is on the block, and there has been discussion about the reasons and the aftermath. Sources say there are at least two potential buyers for the unit—Samsung and TowerJazz. Apparently, the talks between IBM-Samsung and IBM-TowerJazz have been going on for some time. Multiple sources believe that Samsung is interested in buying IBM’s advanced 300mm technology in East Fishkill, N.Y. In an e-mail, a spokesman for Samsung said: “We have no comment.”

Meanwhile, TowerJazz is interested in the 200mm unit, sources said. Still others speculate that IBM’s 200mm fab unit in Burlington, Vt. could launch a leveraged buyout. IBM’s 200mm fab produces RF technologies based on SiGe and SOI.

There are no more startups in the semiconductor equipment market? Think again. A new startup, which is a spin-off from CEA-Leti, has formed in the area of hybrid metrology. The company, called Pollen technology, is located in Grenoble, France. It has an initial capital of 94,000 euros. “The goal is to propose a new business model to IC manufacturers in order to overcome metrology tool limitations for advanced node fabrication. We will propose a breakthrough software solution that will allow heterogeneous data fusion. The added value for IC makers: cycle time reduction, longer tool lifetime, easy tools connection even when the suppliers are competitors,” said Johann Foucher of Pollen in an e-mail.

GlobalFoundries is hiring. The foundry vendor is looking for talent for its Fab 8 plant in Malta, N.Y.

Applied Materials filed an S4 regarding its acquisition of Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TEL). In a research note, Weston Twigg, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities, said: “Both Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron provided relatively aggressive forward projections compared to our view, which makes sense given that both companies were motivated to show positive growth scenarios when putting the deal together.”

Inpria, a developer of high-resolution photoresists, has received $4.7 million of a committed $7.3 million financing round. The round was led by Samsung Venture Investment, the global investment arm of the Samsung Group, along with participation from Intel Capital, Intel’s global investment and M&A organization. Existing investor Applied Ventures, the venture capital arm of Applied Materials, also participated in the equity financing.

Nikon has rolled out the NSR-S630D ArF immersion scanner for 10nm manufacturing and beyond. Continuous scanner innovations enable ultra-high throughput of 250 wafers per hour to optimize fab productivity and cost-efficiency.

Gigaphoton has achieved a 43 Watt output at 100-kHz from its second prototype laser-produced plasma (LPP) light source for EUV lithography scanners. Gigaphoton also announced that the company’s flagship high-power ArF immersion laser (GT64A) will be used by the Global 450 Consortium (G450C).

In 2013, SMIC’s total CapEx was $770 million. In 2014, SMIC’s CapEx is expected to be around $880 million, according to the company. Of that, $570 million is for its Beijing fab project.

More trouble at Renesas Electronics. It will reorganize its manufacturing-related group companies in Japan by means of absorption-type separations and mergers. Renesas also announced an early retirement incentive program for its employees in Japan. It has also recently cut jobs, divested various operations and shuttered some fabs.

QLogic will acquire certain 10/40/100-Gbit Ethernet controller-related assets and non-exclusive licenses to certain intellectual property relating primarily to Broadcom’s programmable NetXtreme II Ethernet controller family. Total deal consideration is approximately $147 million in cash.

Total semiconductor unit shipments are forecast to grow annually through the current cyclical upturn and top one trillion units for the first time in 2016, according to IC Insights.

What are the future RF trends for electronic warfare systems? There are some common themes that span across radar and communications that are going to underpin future system design, according to Strategy Analytics.