Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Outsourcing Intel; fab tool trade; EUV demand; U.S. rare earths.


Intel posted its quarterly results. But the big question is whether the chip giant will outsource more of its production to the foundries. As reported, Intel has fallen behind TSMC and Samsung in process technology. And Intel may need to outsource some of its chip production to stay ahead.

All of this rests on Pat Gelsinger, the new CEO at Intel. Gelsinger will be taking over for Bob Swan in mid-February. “Pat is a positive hire and is widely expected by Intel people to help move things forward,” said Mark Webb, principal at MKW Ventures Consulting. “(During the quarterly conference call), the comments by Pat and Bob made it clear that Intel will pursue more outsourcing of products and more standardization of designs, which is done to allow more outsourcing. Intel has been working on outsourcing CPUs for some time. I fully expect some CPUs to be outsourced in the 2022 timeframe. Most CPUs will be done internally. But the movement has started and will continue to grow unless Intel shows that its internal process and design is better and more cost effective. We believe outsourcing is the correct decision and that it will help Intel as more and more chips are outsourced.”

Weston Twigg, an analyst at KeyBanc, said: “INTC posted strong results and guidance as overall compute demand remains high. Incoming CEO Pat Gelsinger joined the call, and bullish energy was palpable. INTC has recovered its 7nm roadmap, and it expects to keep most 2023 production internal (a detailed update is expected after Mr. Gelsinger formally joins). INTC is confident that a majority of its 2023 products will be made internally as it has recovered its 7nm process roadmap. It noted that it has re-architected and simplified the 7nm process to resolve the defects discovered last year, ensuring a successful ramp. It also noted that it will remain flexible with plans and will likely expand its use of foundry as well, in order to optimize production and leadership across product lines.”


Faraday Technology has unveiled its imaging and display high-speed interface IP set on UMC’s 40LP and 28HPC/HPC+ process nodes, including MIPI D-PHY (TX/RX, controller), V-by-One HS (TX/RX, controller), and LVDS (TX/RX, I/O). These IPs are designed for various imaging and display systems, such as 4K/8K projectors, pico projectors, automotive HUDs, in-vehicle infotainment systems, POS systems, AR/VR devices, wearable devices, robots, multifunction printers, digital cameras, and surveillance cameras.

EPC has released its Phase-12 reliability report, documenting the strategy used to achieve field reliability for the company’s gallium-nitride (GaN) power devices.

Ford Brazil will cease production operations in 2021. Ford will serve customers in the South America region with vehicles sourced from Argentina, Uruguay and other markets. Meanwhile, in another blow for Brazil, the Brazilian government plans to shut down CEITEC S.A., a state-owned semiconductor company. CEITEC is searching for help in the form of funding and technology.

Fab tools
SEMI has submitted a letter to Commerce Dept. Secretary-Designate Raimondo on behalf of our members that asks that the department avoid unilateral controls and pursue effective multilateral controls in consultation with industry. The letter is highlighted on SEMI’s page here on export controls.

ASML posted its results for the quarter. “ASML posted very strong results and guidance, and it noted that customers have recently increased forecasts for 2021. As a result, ASML expects EUV revenue to grow 30% this year (up from its prior expectation of 20%), logic revenue to grow 10%, memory revenue to grow 20%, and installed base revenue to grow 10%,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst at KeyBanc, in a research note. “ASML had lowered its 2021 outlook for EUV growth mid last year as customers indicated uncertainty related to the Huawei ban and Intel node delays. Since then, EUV demand has improved sharply, but long lead-time parts will likely limit EUV shipments to the low 40-unit level in 2021 (we model 41 units, up from 31 units in 2020). We expect ASML to ship 50+ units in 2022, with demand likely to stabilize around that level.”

SPTS Technologies, a KLA company, and the University of Swansea have developed hollow, silicon microneedles for “pain-free” drug delivery through the skin. Researchers are developing a “smart patch” that can deliver a coronavirus vaccine through the skin. The patch can monitor its efficacy by measuring the body’s immune response. The research team is expecting prototypes in 2021.

Lumentum has entered into a definitive agreement under which it will acquire Coherent in a cash and stock transaction valued at $5.7 billion. Founded in 1966, Coherent is a provider of lasers for scientific, commercial and industrial customers. Lumentum is a manufacturer of optical and photonic products.

Silvaco has completed the acquisition of physical verification solution and cloud enablement provider POLYTEDA CLOUD.

In a blog, Roskill talked about the United States’ efforts in rare earths. “In recent years, North America has accelerated plans to reduce dependence on China, with a number of companies advancing their respective projects, aiming to contribute at different stages of the value chain. Significant strides have been taken, but questions surrounding the timeline and potential challenges remain,” said Ross Embleton from Roskill.

Market research
The global economy will return to pre-pandemic growth levels in 2021 as the world begins an uneven gross domestic product rebound, speakers at the Virtual SEMI Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) recently revealed.

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