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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Intel unveils SuperFin; 3D ICs; diagnostic tools; HiSilicon.

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Chipmakers
At its Architecture Day this week, Intel disclosed its roadmap for the company’s next-generation microprocessors, graphics chips, FPGAs and other products.

As part of the event, Intel announced some new enhancements for its existing 10nm finFET technology. Basically, it’s a mid-life kicker for the technology. Intel calls it the 10nm SuperFin technology, which is a redefinition of its existing 10nm finFET. The newer version includes an improved epi growth, new SuperMIM capacitors and a novel thin barrier.

Intel has been shipping its 10nm processors for some time. As reported, though, Intel was several years late with its 10nm technology. It also faces some delays with its 7nm technology, which is also expected to be a finFET.

On the product front, Intel talked about its new processor architectures, such as the code-named Tiger Lake platform. This will integrate its next-generation Willow Cove CPU architecture with the 10nm SuperFin technology. “On the data center front, we announced that our first Xe-HP chip is sampling to customers. Xe-HP is the industry’s first multitiled, highly scalable, high-performance GPU architecture, providing petaflop-scale AI performance and rack-level media performance in a single package based on our EMIB technology. Xe-HP will leverage enhanced SuperFin technology,” said Intel Chief Architect Raja Koduri.

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Samsung has rolled out its new 3D IC packaging technology. The technology, called eXtended-Cube (X-Cube), can be used to develop different chip architectures, depending on the requirements. Samsung has built an X-Cube test chip built on 7nm, which uses TSV technology to stack SRAM on top of a logic die.

SEMI, along with GlobalFoundries, have launched a new apprenticeship program to make it easier for companies to offer training and for more workers to pursue careers in electronics. The competency-based SEMI Industry Approved Apprenticeship Program (IAAP) is designed to identify skills gaps and deliver targeted training that meets industry employers’ hiring needs. SEMI has developed the IAAP in partnership with GlobalFoundries.

SiFive has raised $61 million in a Series E round led by SK Hynix, joined by other investors.

Fab tools and materials
In a blog, Lam Research discussed a new process tool diagnostic technology. “In order to be able to diagnose its process tools Lam built a utility called the Lam Data Analyzer or LamDA, which is able to read the data logs and provide a visualization of events. It is particularly useful for comparing a good wafer run to a bad one, or a good chamber to a bad one, said Russell Dover, senior director of service product marketing in the Customer Support Business Group at Lam.

Brewer Science has become a member of Certified Employee-Owned (Certified EO), a certification program for employee-owned companies in America. To become a member of Certified EO, companies must pass a rigorous certification process to demonstrate that their employees own at least 30% of the business, access to ownership is open to every employee, and the concentration of ownership is limited. Fewer than 1 in 200 American companies are eligible to join Certified EO.

Applied Materials has reported results for its third quarter ended July 26. Revenue was $4.40 billion, up 23% year-over-year.

Pure Wafer has announced the opening of its new online store, wafersontheweb.com. The site provides semiconductor R&D engineers, semiconductor OEMs and semiconductor manufacturers with access to a range of test grade silicon wafers used in equipment and fabrication testing as well as prime grade wafers used in semiconductor device manufacturing.

Packaging
SVXR, a supplier of inspection and metrology technology, has announced that Scott Jewler has been appointed president and CEO. Jewler previously held the position of chief operating officer and is a co-founder of SVXR. David Adler, the former CEO and co-founder of SVXR, has retired.

Market research
IC Insights has released its top-10 semiconductor suppliers in terms of sales in the first half of 2020. There are no surprises here, but one vendor is expected to fall off the list—China’s HiSilicon.

“HiSilicon was the one new entrant into the top-10 ranking in 1H20, replacing Infineon. HiSilicon is the semiconductor design division of China-based telecommunications giant Huawei. Over 90% of HiSilicon’s ‘sales’ go to its parent company and are essentially internal transfers. HiSilicon’s year-over-year sales surged 49% in 1H20 and the company jumped up six spots in the ranking to 10th place, making it the first China-based semiconductor supplier to be ranked in the worldwide top-10 listing,” according to IC Insights.

“However, HiSilicon’s time in the top-10 ranking may be short lived. After the second round of U.S. sanctions, which prohibited semiconductor suppliers from using U.S.-made equipment to produce devices for Huawei/HiSilicon, the company’s chip manufacturers (e.g., TSMC) only accepted orders until May 15 and production is due to end on September 15, according to Richard Yu, president of Huawei’s consumer unit. He added that this year may be the last generation of Huawei’s high-end Kirin chips, the application processors used in Huawei’s advance smartphones, and that Huawei’s smartphone production has ‘no chips and no supply,’ ” according to IC Insights.

Events
Virtual events coming up in the chip industry are here, and include:

Aug 24-26: Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Conference (ASMC) 2020
Aug 24-25: TSMC’s Technology Symposium & Open Innovation Platform® Ecosystem Forum
Aug 24-28: SPIE Optics + Photonics 2020 Digital Forum
On-Demand: Leveraging Advanced Semiconductor Packaging for Faster Time to Market discussing the need for an optimized, correct by construction, collaborative process during semiconductor device package design to ensure a faster time to market.



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