Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

More U.S. fabs; laser bidding war; high-NA; 3DIC; Amkor results.


The U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and several chip executives have sent a joint letter to President Biden, urging the administration to include substantial funding for semiconductor manufacturing and research in the U.S. As reported, the share of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity in the U.S. has decreased from 37% in 1990 to 12% today. “Semiconductors power essential technological advancements across healthcare, communications, clean energy, computing, transportation, and countless other sectors, and chip-enabled technologies have helped keep us productive and connected during the pandemic,” said John Neuffer, SIA president and CEO. “By investing boldly in domestic semiconductor manufacturing incentives and research initiatives, President Biden and Congress can reinvigorate the U.S. economy and job creation, strengthen national security and semiconductor supply chains, and ensure the U.S. remains the leader in the game-changing technologies of today and tomorrow.”

Click here for the letter. The ongoing semiconductor shortage in automotive highlights the need to strengthen U.S. chip manufacturing and research, according to the SIA. “The shortage is a reminder of the essential role semiconductors play in so many critical areas of society, including transportation. This trend will only continue as demand for electronics and connectivity grows. In the auto space, new vehicles increasingly rely on chips for fuel efficiency, safety, and other features. The expected growth in electric cars will only further this reliance. In the long-term, as chips play an even bigger role in an ever-expanding array of products, global demand for chips will continue to rise,” said Falan Yinug, director of industry statistics and economic policy at the SIA. “A core priority of the semiconductor industry is therefore to promote federal incentives for chip manufacturing in the U.S., so our country is positioned to produce the chips needed to meet rising long-term demand.”

President Biden “will soon sign an executive order to identify ‘immediate actions’ for mitigating the effects of a global semiconductor shortage hitting American industries hard,” according to a report from Nikkei.

Fab tools
There appears to be a bidding war for Coherent, a supplier of lasers for industrial applications. Lumentum recently entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Coherent in a cash and stock transaction valued at $5.7 billion. This week, MKS Instruments made an unsolicited offer to acquire Coherent. MKS’ proposal is valued at approximately $240 per share of Coherent stock, representing a premium of approximately 16% to the implied value of Coherent’s merger agreement with Lumentum, based on the closing price per share of Lumentum stock on Feb. 4. On top of that, II-VI, a supplier of engineered materials and optoelectronic components, also made an offer to acquire Coherent.

Imec has reported the use of a 13.5nm high harmonic generation source for the printing of 20nm pitch line/spaces under high-numerical-aperture extreme ultraviolet lithography (high-NA) conditions. The demonstrated high-NA capability of the EUV interference lithography is a milestone of the AttoLab, a research facility initiated by Imec and KMLabs to accelerate the development of the high-NA patterning ecosystem. As reported, the chip industry is preparing for the next phase of EUV lithography at 3nm and beyond, but the challenges and unknowns continue to pile up.

Data analytics specialist yieldHUB announced that it will work with fabless start-up Empower Semiconductor. Commenting on the deal, Karim Hamed, senior manager of product engineering at Empower said: “We chose yieldHUB. It’s fast, secure and we can access it anywhere in the world. It’s exactly what we need for data analysis and yield management. 2021 is set to be a very busy year for us, and yieldHUB is the ideal data analysis partner for the journey.”

TEL recently received the “Excellent Performance Award” from TSMC. The award recognized TEL and other suppliers that contributed to TSMC’s business in 2020 through performance in such fields as services, equipment, and materials.

Brewer Science has earned Zero Waste to Landfill Certification for the sixth consecutive year. The Zero Waste to Landfill Certification represents Brewer Science’s commitment to the responsible management of end-of-life materials.

Advanced Energy Industries has announced that Yuval Wasserman will retire as president and chief executive and as a member of the board, effective March 1. The board of directors has appointed Steve Kelley, formerly the CEO at Amkor, as the president, CEO and a member of the board, effective March 1.

CEA-Leti, CEA-List and Néel Institute at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) are developing a prototype interposer that meets requirements of quantum computing. Known as QuIC3, which stands for quantum integrated circuits with CryoCMOS, the prototype demonstrator controls quantum chips by embedding control electronics near the quantum chip inside a dilution cryostat at T<1K.

The demonstrator is made from an interposer in silicon on which quantum chips and control electronics are integrated by 3D flip-chip processes. The control electronics are fabricated on standard FDSOI 28nm-node technology and manufactured by STMicroelectronics. “Realization of a QuIC3 demonstrator for 3D co-integration of quantum chips with CryoCMOS FDSOI 28nm control chips is an important step toward a full quantum computing system that operates at a very low temperature, less than 1 K, with optimum control and reading performance,” said Maud Vinet, head of CEA-Leti’s quantum computing program. “This interposer breakthrough is a unique combination of expertise on quantum physics, 3D technologies, material integration, IC interface, passives design and micro-architecture to achieve a solution adapted to quantum computation. The platform optimizes the control and readout of qubits by bringing the control electronics to the vicinity of the quantum chip without wire bonding.”


TSMC has approved the establishment of a subsidiary in Japan to expand its 3D material research, with a paid-in capital of not more than ¥18.6 billion ($186 million).

Amkor Technology has reported its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended Dec. 31. Net sales were $5.05 billion, up 24.6% year-on-year. “Better than expected demand for smartphone and automotive products drove fourth quarter revenue up 16% year-on-year to a record $1.37 billion,” said Giel Rutten, Amkor’s president and chief executive. “For full year 2020, we delivered record revenue of $5.05 billion, an increase of nearly $1 billion over 2019. Demand for advanced packages, particularly advanced SiP, drove strong growth in the consumer, communications and computing end markets.”

Market research
Apple remained the No. 1 semiconductor chip buyer in 2020, representing 11.9% of the total worldwide market, according to preliminary results from Gartner. Samsung Electronics remained in second position.

IC Insights released its rankings of the 25 largest wafer capacity leaders in terms of monthly installed capacity in 200mm-equivalents as of December 2020. Samsung is in first place, followed by TSMC, Micron, SK Hynix and Kioxia. Intel, UMC, GlobalFoundries, Texas Instruments, and SMIC rounded out the top 10 capacity leaders.

IBS is introducing a new concept, which is consumption of semiconductors per person. “Consumption of semiconductors per person in China is quantified as $16.72 per person in 2010,” according to IBS. That figure jumped “to $85.22 per person in 2020, which is a 5.10X increase.” IBS plans to analyze consumption of semiconductors per person for the U.S., Europe, and others in the future, and will include both the historical perspective and the future pattern.

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