Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

ASE expand EMS biz; IC packaging demand; 5nm + 2.5D; R2R.


Packaging and EMS
ASE is expanding its efforts in the electronic manufacturing services (EMS) business. Universal Scientific Industrial (USI), a subsidiary of ASE, has completed the acquisition of Asteelflash Group through the acquisition of its parent company, Financière. USI provides electronic design and manufacturing services. It also provides system-in-package (SiP) modules.

Asteelflash is also global EMS company dedicated to the automotive, energy management, Internet of Things (IoT), industrial, consumer, defense, aerospace and data processing industries. Asteelflash recorded $1 billion revenue in 2018, ranking as the second largest EMS company in Europe. With the deal, USI will have a bigger platform with a global footprint of 27 manufacturing locations in 10 countries, over 24,000 employees and a combined revenue of over $7 billion.

Separately, USI recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for its Vietnam facility in Dinh Vu Industrial Zone located in Hai An District, Haiphong City, Vietnam. USI’s board approved an investment for a manufacturing facility to be set up in Vietnam. With a planned investment of $200 million in Phase I, the project is one of the biggest in Haiphong in 2020. Covering an area of almost 65,000 square meters, the smart manufacturing facility will be built according to Industry 4.0 standards and be completed in two phases.


Demand for IC packaging is strong. Wirebond capacity is tight. What’s driving the growth? “In the communication sector we have 5G driving a portion of growth. We also have a lot of WiFi 6 standards, driving the multiple upgrade cycles in communication, as well as in automotive. We have seen a slowdown in automotive in Q1 and Q2. In Q3, we’re seeing a remarkable recovery and strength in the automotive sector. We believe this will be reflected in Q4 as well as next year. Computing and consumer demands have been strong, and they remain strong for Q4. We also believe that computing and the consumer demand will be strong for 2021,” said Tien Wu, COO of ASE, in a recent conference call (Go to transcript).

Broadcom has begun sampling its 5nm ASIC device for datacenter and cloud infrastructure. Built on TSMC’s 5nm process and measuring 625mm2, the device also incorporates the PCIe Gen5 protocol, 112-Gbps SerDes, and HBM2e memory operating at 3.6Gbps. All of this is stacked utilizing TSMC’s CoWoS interposer technology. Broadcom has multiple ASIC devices in development targeting artificial intelligence (AI), high-performance computing (HPC) and 5G wireless infrastructure applications.

Fab tools
Orbotech, a KLA company, has announced two new roll-to-roll (R2R) manufacturing solutions for flexible printed circuits. The products enable the design and mass production of new generations of electronic devices, including 5G smartphones, advanced automotive and medical devices.

PDF Solutions has closed the acquisition of Cimetrix. The combination of Cimetrix’ connectivity products and platforms with PDF Solutions’ analytics platform are intended to enable semiconductor and electronics manufacturers to extract more intelligence – not just data – from their factory floor. As a result, customers can build more reliable ICs and systems at lower manufacturing costs.

Taiwan’s GlobalWafers is in talks to acquire Siltronic, a supplier of silicon wafers, according to several reports. The deal could be worth $4.5 billion.

Plasma-Therm has announced the acquisition of OEM Group’s dry process equipment business. With the acquisition, Plasma-Therm has acquired all original OEM licenses and intellectual property rights for SFI Endeavor, AG Heatpulse, MRC Eclipse, and Tegal brand equipment. “This acquisition allows OEM Group to strategically focus on our wet chemical process and ion implant technologies,” said Michael Correra, CEO of OEM Group.

Here’s the latest from Nikkei Asia: “Two high-profile chip projects led by Chinese tech conglomerate Tsinghua Unigroup have hit significant delays.”

Imagination Technologies has sold its Wi-Fi development operations and assets to Nordic Semiconductor, which specializes in low-power wireless communications technology.

American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics), a program of NY CREATES, has announced $19 million in research program awards for advanced integrated photonics under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Lasers for Universal Microscale Optical Systems (LUMOS) program. The LUMOS program will enable efficient on-chip optical gain in integrated photonics platforms. This will enable complex, end-to-end photonic functionality on a single crystal silicon substrate for optical microsystems.

Market research
Global semiconductor equipment billings surged 30% year-over-year and rose 16% to $19.4 billion from the prior quarter, according to SEMI.

The global market for wet chemicals needed for global semiconductor fabrication in 2021 is forecast to reach $2 billion, according to TECHCET.

Here’s the latest from TrendForce: “In 3Q20, the smartphone industry benefitted from the gradual easing of pandemic containment measures worldwide, the arrival of year-end holiday season, and the expanded production targets by smartphone brands looking to capture Huawei’s lost market shares. These factors together drove up global smartphone production to 336 million units in 3Q20, a 20% increase QoQ, which is the highest QoQ growth in recent years.”

The global wearables market grew 35.1% year-over-year during the third quarter of 2020 with total shipments reaching 125 million units, according to International Data Corp. (IDC).

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