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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

5nm Macs; TSMC U.S. fab; 22nm; mmWave test standard.

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Chipmakers and OEMs
Apple has introduced a new MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini powered by the M1, the first in a family of chips designed by Apple specifically for the Mac. Based on a 5nm process from TSMC, the M1 is packed with 16 billion transistors, the most Apple has ever put into a chip. It features a CPU core, graphics, AI and other functions all in the same chip. In total, MacBook shipments are expected to set a record high in 2021 by reaching 17.1 million units, according to TrendForce.

TSMC has approved an investment to establish a subsidiary in Arizona with a paid-in capital of $3.5 billion. TSMC plans to build an advanced fab in the U.S. The plan is to process chips at the 5nm node.

Faraday Technology has announced that its 22nm ULP/ULL fundamental IP set has been adopted by customers in several areas, such as IP camera SoCs, true-wireless-stereo (TWS) earphone SoCs, IoT SoCs, and voice recognition AI processors. The IP set is implemented on UMC’s 22ULP/ULL technology.

Micron has begun volume shipments of the world’s first 176-layer 3D NAND flash memory devices. Compared with the company’s previous generation of 3D NAND, Micron’s 176-layer NAND improves both read latency and write latency by more than 35%. Featuring a 30% smaller die size than a competitive offerings, Micron’s 176-layer NAND’s compact design is ideal for solutions using small form factors.

Fab tools
Applied Materials reported results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Oct. 25, 2020. Applied posted record quarterly revenue of $4.69 billion, up 25% year over year. In fiscal 2020, Applied generated revenue of $17.20 billion.

In a video, D2S’ Leo Pang presented the results of a joint paper with Micron on how to enable faster variable-shaped beam (VSB) writing of 193i curvilinear inverse lithography technology (ILT) masks.

In another video, Ajay Baranwal, director of the Center for Deep Learning in Electronics Manufacturing (CDLe), demonstrated the use of digital twins to create scanning electron microscope (SEM) images.

Liquidity Services, Tiger Group, Maynards Industries and GES Associates will jointly manage a bulk and piecemeal sale of the assets of Alta Devices due to a facility closure. Alta manufactured thin-film solar cells. The sale features solar and semiconductor manufacturing equipment from Alta’s Sunnyvale, Calif. facility, featuring PVD sputter, MOCVD and surface preparation systems; and plating lines, and wet processing stations. Other assets include test and measurement equipment, an analysis lab, plant support and IT equipment, as well as intellectual property rights and over 400 patents.

Silvaco has completed the acquisition of the memory compiler technology and standard cell libraries of Dolphin Design.

Test
China has developed a new standard test method for vehicle millimeter wave (mmWave) automotive radar. This standard establishes a unified requirement for testing mmWave radars for Chinese radar manufacturers, with a goal of improving the safety of ADAS features that rely on this sensor, such as autonomous emergency braking. The Tsinghua University Suzhou Automobile Research Institute and Radsys, a partner of National Instruments (NI), created the standard.

Market research
IC Insights has updated its latest GDP forecasts for 2020 and 2021. “The forecasted GDP growth rates range from -10.0% in the U.K. to China’s positive 2.4%. Among all major countries/regions, only China is expected to register positive GDP growth this year, although its growth rate is down significantly from 6.1% in 2019. China was able to contain Covid-19 in the second quarter of this year and the country’s economy has been on the mend since. Worldwide GDP is now forecast to decline 4.5% in 2020 compared to the 2.4% gain in 2019,” according to IC Insights.

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, the SiC-based EV/HEV market has not slowed down, according to Yole. “SiC technologies are gaining the confidence of many customers and are penetrating various applications,” said Ezgi Dogmus, an analyst at Yole. “Indeed, driven by EV related applications, SiC for power electronics applications will for sure, grow strongly in the next five years.”



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