Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

6nm Arm Macs with EUV; KLA’s new unit; display woes.


Chipmakers and OEMs
At next week’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple is expected to roll out its long-awaited Arm-based Mac computers. This could provide a boost for Apple’s foundry vendor as well as equipment makers.

It’s the worst-kept secret in the industry. As reported by the Apple sites, Apple is moving from Intel’s microprocessors to its own Arm-based chips for the Mac computer. Here’s some details from AppleInsider. Here’s more details from MacRumors.

Here are more interesting details: “We believe this new chip could be manufactured on TSMC’s upcoming 6nm process node. 6nm is an extension of the 7nm Plus node that utilizes EUV litho, and is expected to see mass production in late 2020,” said Krish Sankar, an analyst at Cowen, in a research note. “We believe TSMC classifies 6nm spending under the 7nm category, and we estimate that an ARM-based processor for Apple Mac computers could represent WFE (wafer fab equipment) spending of ~$650M based on approx. 3.7K wspm of capacity. This assumes an average die size of 150mm2 and 19M units annually of combined desktop and notebook form factor products. At this time, it remains unclear if all or only part of the Mac family products will transition to an ARM-based design.”


GlobalFoundries and SkyWater Technology have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to manufacture secure solutions for the U.S. defense industrial base and cooperate on development of emerging technologies. The partnership will extend the sustainability of trusted foundry semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S.

Efficient Power Conversion (EPC) and VPT, a HEICO company, have announced the establishment of EPC Space LLC, a joint venture focused on designing and manufacturing radiation hardened GaN-on-silicon transistors and ICs packaged, tested, and qualified for satellite and high-reliability applications.

Fab tools
In case you missed it: KLA 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.

TEL’s board has disclosed its financial forecast and the dividends forecast for the fiscal year ending March 2021. “While we continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation, demand in the semiconductor and FPD (flat-panel display) market is expected to increase in the medium to long term due to the proliferation of IoT, 5G and AI, with an expected increase of 10% year on year in the semiconductor and FPD production equipment markets,” according to TEL.

Intermolecular, a subsidiary of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has announced the industry’s first quaternary atomic layer deposition (ALD) GeAsSeTe1 OTS device for 3D vertical memory arrays. This combination of materials will enable a 3D vertical memory architecture for customers to design chips for high density, high performance computing applications at affordable costs.

Amkor has announced that Giel Rutten, executive vice president since 2014, has been appointed to serve as president and chief executive and as a director of the company. He succeeds Steve Kelley, who is stepping down.

Xperi Holding has announced its new senior leadership team following the completion of the merger between Xperi and TiVo.

Market research
North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted $2.35 billion in billings worldwide in May 2020, according to a report from SEMI. The billings figure is 2.9% higher than the final April 2020 level of $2.28 billion, and is 13.1% higher than the May 2019 billings level of $2.07 billion. “Despite COVID-19 headwinds and limited visibility to near-term macroeconomic conditions, May billings of North America-based semiconductor equipment manufacturers continue to demonstrate the semiconductor industry’s long-term resiliency,” said Ajit Manocha, SEMI president and CEO.


Following a dismal first quarter due to Covid-19, the large-area thin-film transistor (TFT) display market has started to rebound in the second quarter. Global large-area TFT display panel unit shipments in 2020 are expected to total 771.6 million units, up less than 1% from 770.5 million in 2019, according to the Omdia.

This total includes both LCD and OLED TFT displays sized 9-inches and larger. “COVID-19 seriously impacted both the large-area TFT display business itself and the applications that use these panels in the first quarter, as the pandemic halted or slowed manufacturing in China,” said Peter Su, principal analyst, at Omdia. “While China is now recovering from the crisis and production is back on track in the second quarter, COVID-19 continues to impact the market as consumer demand has weakened worldwide. However, lockdown conditions in many regions are spurring a sudden surge in demand for devices like notebook PCs, tablet PCs and monitors. This phenomenon is contributing to a rebound in demand for larger TFT displays starting in the second quarter and gaining momentum in the final six months of the year.”

Meanwhile, the display equipment market hit rock bottom in the first quarter due to sluggish demand and Covid-19. “In our survey of 29 publicly traded display equipment suppliers, we saw their combined display equipment revenues down 30% Q/Q and 41% Y/Y,” according to a report from DSCC, which also said there were also some bright spots. “We saw healthy growth at AMAT and TEL at the same time as seeing large reductions at Canon (and) Nikon. We also saw Korean equipment suppliers outperform Japanese equipment suppliers in most categories.”

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