Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Intel VP resigns; SiC drives e-buses; KLA’s new group; 5nm.


Jim Keller, senior vice president in the Technology, Systems Architecture and Client Group (TSCG) and general manager of the Silicon Engineering Group (SEG) at Intel, has resigned amid a major reorganization at the company. Here’s one report about the situation.

Cree as well as China’s Yutong Group and StarPower are working together to accelerate the commercial adoption of silicon carbide-based inverters in electric bus applications. As part of the plan, Yutong will deliver its first electric bus in China using silicon carbide in its powertrain, enabling a more efficient electric bus. Yutong is using Cree’s 1,200V silicon carbide devices in StarPower’s power modules in the powertrain system.

Mitsubishi will acquire buildings and land from Sharp in Japan. The acquired properties will serve as a new site to expand its power semiconductor business.

United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) held its 2020 annual shareholders’ meeting. At the meeting, the shareholders approved several items.

NXP and TSMC have announced a collaboration agreement. NXP will adopt TSMC’s 5nm technology for its next-generation, high-performance automotive platform. Using TSMC’s 5nm process, NXP’s offerings will address a wide variety of functions and workloads, such as connected cockpits, high-performance domain controllers, autonomous driving, advanced networking, hybrid propulsion control and integrated chassis management.

Tower Semiconductor has licensed Xperi’s ZiBond and DBI semiconductor interconnect technologies. This technology complements Tower’s stacked wafer CMOS image sensor platforms. In addition, Tower will explore the use of the technology for a broader range of applications, including memories and MEMS.

Congress is proposing yet another bill to help fund the U.S. semiconductor industry. U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) have introduced the “Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act.” This would boost semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S. Not long ago, Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and others proposed a similar bill.

Fab manufacturing
KLA has announced the formation of KLA Instruments, a group that develops, markets and services measurement and defect inspection systems that are used primarily by research and development departments in universities and industrial labs. KLA Instruments offers a portfolio of products including optical and stylus profilometers, nanoindenters, benchtop film metrology systems and specialized defect inspection systems.

NextFlex, America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) Manufacturing Innovation Institute, has secured seven years of government funding worth up to $154 million in a cost-sharing agreement with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The seven-year agreement also includes funding from the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s (OSD) Manufacturing Technology program.

Market research
Despite Covid-19 and other issues, the combined revenues of the top-10 foundries increased by more than 20% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2020, according to TrendForce. The research firm also released its foundry rankings in terms of sales for the period. TSMC remains in first place, followed in order by Samsung, GlobalFoundries, UMC and SMIC, according to the firm.

2021 is poised to mark a banner year for global fab equipment spending with 24% growth to a record $67.7 billion, 10% higher than the previous forecast of $65.7 billion, according to SEMI.

CMOS image sensors set nine consecutive record-high sales levels in the last nine years, but that streak is expected to end in 2020 with revenues falling 4% and unit growth being nearly flat as a result of the economic fallout from the Covid-19 virus crisis and a global recession, according to IC Insights.

Upcoming Webinars
Siemens will address how to use digital twins in smart manufacturing of semiconductors, including how to fuse together supply chain and manufacturing operations; proteanTecs is addressing the future of reliability testing, including in-field degradation monitoring.


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