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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

More export controls; defense act; ATE; fabless rankings.

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Government and trade
The U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has expanded its export control regulations for U.S.-based hi-tech companies. The BIS has added more companies to its “Military End User” (MEU) list. The list involves 103 entities, which includes 58 Chinese and 45 Russian companies. The U.S. government has determined that these companies are “military end users” or they do business with them. The MEU list informs exporters, re-exporters, and transferors that a license will be required to export, re-export, or transfer (in-country) designated items to the listed entities.

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Congress recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA sets forth provisions authorizing the establishment of federal incentives to promote semiconductor manufacturing and federal investments in semiconductor research in the U.S.

The president, whose term is coming to an end, this week vetoed the NDAA. The U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) urged Congress to override the president’s veto of the NDAA. “We’re disappointed by the president’s decision to veto the NDAA, which is crucial to our national security and includes important provisions to strengthen America’s supply chain security and boost U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and research. Congress approved the NDAA and the semiconductor provisions within it by huge, bipartisan margins because it’s right for our country. Congress overriding the veto is right for our country and for our sustained leadership in semiconductors and the countless technologies they enable, including those critical to our national security and economic recovery. We strongly urge Congress to make this right and enact the NDAA,” according to the SIA.

All told, Congress will likely override the veto.

Chipmakers and OEMs
SMIC is ramping up its 14nm finFET process, but its efforts to develop sub-10nm technologies has been derailed, at least for now. Last week, the U.S. Department of Commerce added China’s SMIC to the Entity List for the protection of U.S. national security and foreign policy interests. Going forward, fab tool vendors and other suppliers are required to apply for an export license with the U.S. Commerce Department to supply fab gear and other technologies to SMIC.

What’s the impact? “Based on the company’s preliminary assessment, the abovementioned matters have no material adverse effect on the company’s short-term operations and financial positions, but will have a material adverse effect on the research and development and capacity construction of 10 nanometers and below advanced technology nodes,” according to a new filing by SMIC. (Go to filing on Dec. 20.) “The company will continue to communicate with relevant agencies of the U.S. Government and take all feasible measures as appropriate to actively try to reach a resolution and minimize the adverse effect.”

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IBM has announced a Phase 1 award under the Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes (RAMP) Advanced Commercial Capabilities Project. The project is administered by the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane Division within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The objective of RAMP is to demonstrate a secure physical design of microelectronics technologies, ASICs and system-on-a-chip (SoC) designs.

Fab tools
In a video, Dan Hutcheson, CEO of VLSI Research, talks to Aki Fujimura, CEO of D2S. D2S is the managing company sponsor of the eBeam Initiative. Fujimura discusses what the eBeam Initiative found in its 2020 mask making survey.

Entegris is expanding its manufacturing presence in Taiwan with an investment of $200 million over the next three to five years. Entegris expects to begin initial operations in the new plant by late 2021. Located in Southern Taiwan’s Kaohsiung Science Park, the new 27,000 square-meter facility will develop and produce filters for microcontamination control, gas delivery systems, advanced chemistries, and other products.

Packaging and test
Koichi Tsukui, director and managing executive officer of the ATE Business Group at Advantest, and Tsutomu Sugii, department manager at Advantest, recently presented an outlook of the ATE market. Look for PDF file here (Go to IR Technical Briefing Presentation Material on Dec. 21).

Kyocera will begin construction of a new research and development center in January 2021 at its Kokubu campus in Kirishima City, Kagoshima, Japan. The company will develop laminated ceramic capacitors, ceramic packages, and cell stacks for solid oxide fuel cells.

Market research
TrendForce has released its rankings of the top-10 IC design companies. “Apple’s release of the iPhone 12, which has been popular in the consumer markets, led to soaring demand for Qualcomm’s 5G modems and RF chips, in turn propelling Qualcomm’s revenues past that of its rival Broadcom once again to clinch the number one spot in the revenue ranking of global top 10 IC design (fabless) companies for 3Q20,” according to TrendForce.



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