Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

EU, U.S. boost chip efforts; inspection; wafer M&A; IC test.


Government policy–semiconductors
Eighteen members of the European Union have launched an initiative to boost the EU’s efforts in processors and semiconductor technologies. The member nations will also work together to bolster leading-edge manufacturing capacity. The EU plans to invest up to $145 billion in the effort.

“Europe has all it takes to diversify and reduce critical dependencies, while remaining open. We will therefore need to set ambitious plans, from design of chips to advanced manufacturing progressing towards 2nm nodes, with the aim of differentiating and leading on our most important value chains. Today’s highly welcomed joint effort is an important leap forward–it will pave the way to the launch of an industrial alliance. A collective approach can help us leverage our existing strengths and embrace new opportunities as advanced processor chips play an ever more important role for Europe’s industrial strategy and digital sovereignty,” said Thierry Breton, a commissioner for the Internal Market at the EU.

Other nations are also beefing up their chip efforts. Backed by $150 billion in funding, China is developing its domestic IC industry and plans to make more of its own chips.

The U.S. has also launched various strategies to bolster its chip efforts. For example, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA includes Title XCIX, “Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America,” which sets forth provisions authorizing the establishment of federal incentives to promote semiconductor manufacturing and federal investments in semiconductor research in the U.S.

Now, the U.S. Senate must pass the act in order for the NDAA to get enacted. Both SEMI and the U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) applauded the move. “SEMI supports the provisions included in the conference report on the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act for programs to provide incentives for microelectronics manufacturing and research in the U.S. They are helpful steps to support microelectronics innovation and manufacturing,” said Ajit Manocha, president and CEO of SEMI. “We look forward to working with Congress and the administration to provide the funding needed to implement these programs and to enact the CHIPS Act investment tax credit which will provide the certainty needed to attract many more new, large-scale microelectronics manufacturing investments in the U.S.”

Fab tools
KLA has rolled out two new products: the PWG5 wafer geometry system and the Surfscan SP7XP wafer defect inspection system. The new systems are designed to address the challenges for memory and logic.

The PWG5 metrology system can measure distortions of wafer geometries. The Surfscan SP7XP unpatterned wafer defect inspection system features advancements to sensitivity and throughput, and introduces a machine learning-based defect classification system.


Taiwan’s GlobalWafers has made tender offer to acquire silicon wafer maker Siltronic for €125 per share.Wacker Chemie will sell its entire stake of 30.8% in Siltronic into the offer. The takeover bid by silicon wafer maker GlobalWafers will be subject to competition law clearances and further regulatory approvals.

Test and packaging
Advantest, working with its partner PDF Solutions, has introduced two new cloud-based software solutions: the Advantest V93000 Dynamic Parametric Test (DPT) system powered by PDF’s Exensio DPT, and an edge high performance compute (HPC) system. The first product adds rules-based, intelligent test flow adaptation to the V93000 SMU8 parametric test platform. The new ACS edge HPC product can run complex test workloads with millisecond latencies and is available for early adopters.

Advantest has also introduced two new general-purpose hardware instruments–the 500MDM digital module and the DPS32A power supply module–to boost the capabilities of its T2000 test platform. Applications include system-on-a-chip (SoC) devices, power-management ICs, automotive devices and CMOS image sensors. In addition, Advantest has also launched a new high-speed CMOS image capture module for its T2000 test platform. This enables parallel, 64-site testing of both D-PHY and C-PHY devices for the smartphone market.

ASE has been recognized for leadership in corporate sustainability by global environmental non-profit CDP, securing a place on its ‘A List’ for tackling climate change, as well as acting to protect water security – two of the three environmental themes covered by CDP.

Hassane El-Khoury has been named as On Semiconductor’s new president, chief executive, and member of its board, effective Dec. 7. In September, Keith Jackson retired as ON Semiconductor’s chief executive and president, and as a member of its board.

Market research
“Demand in the foundry market has remained strong in 4Q20,” according to a report from TrendForce. “The top 10 foundries’ revenues for 4Q20 are expected to exceed $21.7 billion, an 18% increase YoY, with TSMC, Samsung, and UMC respectively taking the top three largest market shares.”

According to International Data Corp., vendor revenue in the worldwide server market grew 2.2% year-over-year to $22.6 billion during the third quarter of 2020. Worldwide server shipments declined 0.2% year-over-year to nearly 3.1 million units in 3Q20.

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