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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Texas fab shutdowns; auto chip shortages; PDF, CyberOptics results.

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Chipmakers and OEMs
A severe winter storm has hit many parts of the United States, including Texas. In Austin, utility providers are prioritizing service to residential areas. As a result, electricity and natural gas providers have temporarily suspended service to Austin’s semiconductor manufacturers, including Samsung and NXP.

“Due to the recent blackouts in Texas, Samsung Austin Semiconductor gradually halted its operations, as ordered by Austin Energy. With prior notice, appropriate measures were safely taken for the facilities and wafers in production,” according to a spokeswoman from Samsung. “While production will resume as soon as power supplies are restored, we are currently discussing the timing with the authorities.”

TrendForce indicated that the monthly 300mm capacity of Samsung’s Line S2 in Austin accounts for nearly 5% of the global total. “While the winter storm is estimated to impair about 1-2% of the global 12-inch wafer foundry capacity, the actual duration of the impact will still depend on the region’s temperature,” according to the research firm. “TrendForce indicates that the main process technologies of the fab are the 14nm and 11nm nodes. These technologies are mainly used to manufacture Qualcomm’s 5G RFICs. The fab’s other production capacity is distributed among production lines that feature nodes ranging from 65nm to 28nm and mainly manufacture products under Samsung System LSI. Additionally, the fab manufactures automotive chips for Tesla and Renesas.”

In addition, NXP has idled manufacturing at its two Austin facilities. Affected customers are being notified directly by NXP of the potential for supply disruptions. NXP also noted that all of its other manufacturing facilities outside Texas remain in full operation.

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Several automotive companies are facing shortages of semiconductors, forcing many of them to shutter select production lines. It is also taking a bite out of their sales. For example, Daimler posted mixed results for its fiscal year 2020. “Based on the expected market development and the current assessments of the divisions, Daimler anticipates group sales, revenues and EBIT in 2021 to be significantly above the prior-year’s level,” according to the car giant. “Although bottlenecks in the semiconductor industry will impact sales mainly in the first quarter, it is currently anticipated that lost production volume can be compensated for by the end of the year.”

Tower Semiconductor has posted its results. Driven by 200mm and 300mm demand, Tower will invest $150 million in the coming 12 months to purchase machinery and other fixed assets in various fabs.

FabExchange, a private equity and divestiture partner, has completed the acquisition of ON Semiconductor’s fab in Rochester, N.Y. Marketplace shifts led to the decision to discontinue the production of the CCD image sensor line in the fab, resulting in the closure of the site. Now, FabExchange is looking for a buyer for the fab.

BAE Systems has received a $247 million contract from the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center to design and manufacture an advanced military GPS receiver and a next-generation semiconductor. The technology will provide positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) capabilities to warfighters.

Fab tools and analytics
An earthquake rocked the coast of Fukushima, Japan on Feb. 13. TEL issued the following statement: “We have been able to confirm that TEL group employees at both plants are unharmed, and the construction of these buildings sustained no damage and we expect no influence on our business. Both plants are operating as usual from February 15.”

Applied Materials posted record quarterly revenue of $5.16 billion, up 24% year-over-year. It also posted quarterly GAAP EPS of $1.22 and record non-GAAP EPS of $1.39, up 27% and 42% year-over-year, respectively

PDF Solutions posted its financial results for its fourth quarter and full year ended Dec. 31. 2020 revenues were $88.0 million, up 3% year-over-year. Analytics revenue grew by 15% year-over-year in 2020. Analytics accounted for 65% of the company’s sales in 2020.

NextFlex, a U.S.-based Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) Manufacturing Institute, is seeking proposals to fund projects that further the development and adoption of FHE. The total project value is expected to exceed $14.3 million.

Packaging and test
CyberOptics reported sales of $16.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2020 ended Dec. 31, unchanged from the fourth quarter of 2019. Net income for the fourth quarter of 2020 was $1.5 million, or $0.20 per diluted share, compared to earnings of $168,000, or $0.02 per diluted share, in the year-earlier period. “CyberOptics’ fourth quarter sales were at the upper end of our previously issued guidance for this period,” said Subodh Kulkarni, president and chief executive of CyberOptics. “The capital spending outlook among customers in our markets is positive at this time.”

Advantest announced that the Fukushima earthquake has had no impact on its business activities. All employees at Advantest’s office in Sendai, and their families, have been confirmed safe. In addition, there was no damage to the company’s facilities or equipment in the region, and normal operations resumed from Feb. 15.

Government policy
In a letter sent to President Biden, SEMI and 16 organizations representing industries including automotive, medical and technology urged the Biden administration to bolster domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research. The letter calls for funding the initiatives authorized in the CHIPS for America Act and the enactment of a federal investment tax credit (ITC) for semiconductor manufacturing facilities and equipment that would quickly provide a significant, direct and transparent incentive to all companies investing in new and expanded semiconductor facilities in the United States.

Market research
The market for heterogeneous integration is projected to grow 10% in term of the number of packages from 2020 to 2025, reaching almost 54 billion packages, according to a new report from TechSearch International. The market for packages using chiplets is expected to show a CAGR of 104% from 2020 to 2025, according to the research firm. “An increasing number of companies are turning to chiplets to achieve the economic advantages lost with expensive monolithic scaling, ushering in a new era of smart packaging. The adoption of chiplets represents an inflection point in IC design for CPUs and GPUs,” according to the firm.



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