Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

IC, PC forecasts; FormFactor’s probe system; rare earths; AI.


Market research
What’s in store for the IC market in 2020 and 2021? Here’s the latest IC forecasts from IC Insights, Semico, Semiconductor Intelligence, WSTS and others. “We at Semiconductor Intelligence find it difficult to expect much of an increase in the world semiconductor market in 2020. However, the strength of the PC market and the relatively optimistic 3Q 2020 guidance of several major semiconductor companies indicates the semiconductor market will fare better than the overall economy in 2020. We are forecasting 1% growth in the semiconductor market in 2020 and 8% growth in 2021,” said Bill Jewell, principal at Semiconductor Intelligence, a consulting firm.

Here’s the latest from VLSI Research: “Foundry and IDM CapEx have been very resilient during COVID-19. Logic and foundries have been leading CapEx in 2020, while memory is still declining. As a result CapEx will grow 4% in 2020 reaching $101B. 2021 is expected to grow 5% driven by a recovering memory market.”

2020 has seen a resurgence in the PC and tablet markets, but for how long? IDC expects the personal computing devices (PCD) market, which includes PCs, tablets, and workstations, will grow 3.3% year over year in 2020 with shipment volumes reaching 425.7 million units. But IDC expects the PCD market to decline in 2021. “Schools around the world are already scrambling to procure notebooks for their students. The excessive demand, some short-term component shortages, and general uncertainty about the upcoming school year have led many schools to purchase as many units as they can,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager at IDC. “Unfortunately, these additional purchases during 2020 means that many schools will have blown through their future budgets, which will contribute to double-digit declines in the education segment during 2021 and 2022.”

FormFactor has introduced the CM300xi-ULN, a 300mm wafer probe system designed to test flicker noise, random telegraph noise and phase noise. These noise phenomena plague advanced analog and digital IC technologies. By eliminating over 97% of the environmental noise experienced in previous probe systems, the CM300xi-ULN system establishes a new standard for ultra-low noise measurements.

At Semicon Taiwan, which runs from Sept. 25-26, Tim Skunes, vice president of R&D at CyberOptics, will share a technical presentation called “Fast, 100% 3D Wafer Bump Metrology and Inspection to Improve Yields and 3D System Integration.” CyberOptics will also feature its new In-Line Particle Sensor (IPS) line and other products.

Nordson has acquired vivaMOS, which develops high-end CMOS image sensors for a wide range of X-ray applications. This acquisition builds on Nordson’s strategic objective to enhance its test and inspection capabilities.

Zeiss has introduced the Advanced Reconstruction Toolbox for its Xradia Versa series of non-destructive 3D X-ray microscopes (XRM) and its Xradia Context 3D X-ray micro-computed tomography (microCT) systems. The toolbox improves the throughput and image quality of 3D image reconstruction in systems.

Fab tools and materials
Covalent Metrology, a provider of metrology and analytical services, announced the acquisition of Riga Analytical Lab, an independent laboratory.

Congressmen Lance Gooden (R-TX) and Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) have introduced legislation to reduce America’s dependence on China for rare earth minerals. The Reclaiming American Rare Earths (RARE) Act would establish tax incentives for the domestic production of rare earth elements and minerals.

The Government of Saskatchewan announced $31 million in funding for a rare earth processing facility in Saskatchewan, Canada. The facility will be owned and operated by the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC).

Chipmakers and OEMs
ON Semiconductor has announced that Keith Jackson, the company’s president and CEO, intends to retire in May 2021. Jackson will continue to remain in his current roles until his retirement and will assist the board in its search for his successor.

Samsung has commenced mass production of the industry’s first 16-gigabit LPDDR5 mobile DRAM line using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography.

Sharp has reached a deal to buy Japan Display’s LCD plant in Hakusan.

UST Global has announced a strategic investment in Tastry, a sensory sciences company that uses advanced chemistry, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to match consumers to products. Tastry has accurately taught a computer how to taste.

Nvidia has unveiled its GeForce RTX 30 Series GPUs, powered by the Ampere architecture. It offers up to 2x the performance and 1.9x the power efficiency over the previous Turing-based generation of products. The device is based on an 8nm process from Samsung.

Blaize has announced the company’s first AI computing hardware and software products for use in AI applications at the edge. Blaize is sampling embedded and accelerator platforms built on its GSP architecture with up to 60x greater systems efficiency, 10x lower latency, 50x less memory bandwidth, 16TOPS performance at 7W, and 100% programmable.

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