Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

ASE’s smart factory; Huawei export controls; IBM’s 7nm CPU.


Chunghwa Telecom, ASE and Qualcomm Technologies have announced plans to jointly build Taiwan’s first 5G mmWave enterprise private network smart factory.

As part of the plan, ASE is deploying a series of smart factory technologies within its existing Kaohsiung, Taiwan-based campus. This includes the deployment of 5G mmWave network cells in the Kaohsiung campus.

Qualcomm will be responsible for the network design and testing, as well as providing consulting services for the 5G implementation, according to officials from ASE. Chunghwa Telecom will be responsible for building the network and providing the necessary 5G spectrum and network equipment to support the smart factory operation.

For this project, ASE will be applying the technology in three areas:
*Within the production floor, ASE will deploy AI and automated guided vehicle (AGV) transport systems embedded with 360 cameras.
*The production floor will also include remote AR assistance for equipment troubleshooting, maintenance and repair.

“We are not building cell equipment, but applying Qualcomm 5G mmWave technology and with Chunghwa Telecom providing the 5G spectrum to operate ASE’s smart factory,” according to officials from ASE. “These cell base stations will be installed at our facility.”

ASE will test the technology in this facility. Then, it will roll out the technology to other plants.

Raymond Lo, president of ASE’s Kaohsiung plant, said: “5G mmWave is a foundational technology of IIoT. For smart factories that require flexible manufacturing, predictive maintenance and higher production efficiency, 5G mmWave’s high speed, low latency and wide bandwidth will bring forth transformation at a new level.”

Chipmaker and OEMs
Don’t look now, but there’s more trade restrictions for Huawei. The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in the Department of Commerce this week further restricted access by Huawei Technologies and its non-U.S. affiliates on the Entity List to items produced domestically and abroad from U.S. technology and software. In addition, BIS added another 38 Huawei affiliates to the Entity List, which imposes a license requirement for all items subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and modified four existing Huawei Entity List entries. Meanwhile, TrendForce has analyzed the impact of expanded U.S. sanctions against Huawei on five major technology areas.

IBM has rolled out its next-generation POWER central processing unit family—the POWER10. Targeted for cloud computing and other apps, the POWER10 processor is based on a 7nm finFET process using bulk CMOS technology. It has an improvement of up to 3x greater processor energy efficiency, workload capacity, and density than the IBM’s previous-generation POWER9 processor. The POWER10 is IBM’s first commercialized processor built using 7nm process technology. IBM Research has been partnering with Samsung on R&D for more than a decade, including demonstration of the semiconductor industry’s first 7nm test chips through IBM’s Research Alliance.

SkyWater Technology continues to make progress on its efforts to commercial carbon nanotube FET technology. In the first phase, the company focused on transferring its carbon nanotube FET-based 3DSoC technology into its 200mm production facility. Now, the company will focus on refining the manufacturing quality, yield, performance, and density of the technology. The company’s Three Dimensional Monolithic System-on-a-Chip (3DSoC) program is a collaboration with DARPA and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Fab manufacturing and materials
SEMI has announced the formation of a new standards committee that aims to develop global standards for flexible hybrid electronics (FHE), spanning design, materials, manufacturing, packaging and systems. The technical committee is the world’s first to focus on flexible hybrid electronics standards. The SEMI Standards Flexible Hybrid Electronics Global Technical Committee has also established its first chapter in Taiwan.

Rare Element Resources has provided an update on its pilot scale rare earth processing and separation plant. The company hopes to demonstrate the ability to separate rare earth elements in the U.S.

Market research
Here’s the latest from IC Insights: “Collectively, suppliers are expected to allocate $15.1 billion to DRAM capex spending this year, a 20% decline from $19.1 billion in 2019 and down from the record high of $23.2 billion spent for DRAM in 2018.”

North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted $2.60 billion in billings worldwide in July 2020, according to SEMI. The billings figure is 11.8% higher than the final June 2020 level of $2.32 billion, and is 27.6% higher than the July 2019 billings level of $2.03 billion. “The second half of 2020 has started strong with double-digit billings growth for North America-based semiconductor equipment manufacturers,” said Ajit Manocha, SEMI president and CEO. “The strength reflects the semiconductor industry’s criticality in today’s world and the driving forces in place for long-term industry growth.”

Silicon wafer area for semiconductor device manufacturing is forecasted to grow 1.5% in 2020 despite a global pandemic and trade wars, according to TECHCET. Total silicon wafer revenues, including 200mm and silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers, are expected to be flat this year at $12 billion followed by an annual growth of ~5% through 2024, according to the firm. “Much of the anticipated growth in silicon demand over the next few years will be in SOI for applications including RF communications, advanced logic devices, and high-reliability automotive,” commented Dan Tracy, an analyst at TECHCET. “TECHCET sees a generally healthy supply and demand balance as the industry enters 2021, though supply for 300mm advanced and epitaxial wafers will tighten.”

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