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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

TSMC ups CapEx; fab outage; quantum microscopes; PC woes.

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Chipmakers
TSMC has posted strong results and raised its capital spending budget to $30 billion, up from its prior guidance of $25 billion to $28 billion in 2021. “Its outlook indicates broad-based semiconductor demand continues to strengthen amid supply chain tightness,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst at KeyBanc, in a research note. “TSMC posted another quarter of strong demand for leading-edge nodes. 7nm technology accounted for 35% of revenue (up from 29% in 4Q20). 5nm technology, which is in its second year of volume production, contributed 14% of revenue in 1Q21 (down from 20% of revenue in 4Q20). Although accounting for a smaller portion of the mix in 1Q21 (vs. 4Q20), 5nm demand remains strong as smartphone and HPC applications demand sustains. For the full year, TSMC expects 5nm technology to account for ~20% of wafer revenue. 5nm is expected to continue to ramp through the year, led by strong demand in 5G mobile and HPC.”

It’s not all good news. “Component shortages further worsened in the quarter due to the Austin, Texas snowstorm and the fire at Renesas Japan, but TSMC expects shortages for its customers to be greatly reduced next quarter as it reallocates wafer capacity from non-automotive customers and drives further productivity improvements; however, TSMC expects capacity to remain tight throughout 2021 and possibly 2022,” Twigg said.

Here’s the latest from TrendForce: “TSMC’s Fab14 P7 in the Southern Taiwan Science Park suffered a power outage on April 14th. The cause of the power outage was an accidental severing of an underground power cable during construction work nearby,” according to the research firm. “The facility accounts for around 4% of TSMC’s total 12-inch wafer foundry capacity and around 2% of the global 12-inch wafer foundry capacity, and TSMC is still assessing the exact figures for the wafers that have to be scrapped and the wafers that can be reworked.”

Renesas recently provided an update on a fab fire that occurred on March 19. The fire hit the N3 Building (300mm line) of the Naka Factory, located in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki Prefecture. Following the resumption of the clean room, Renesas plans to resume production within one month of the occurrence of the fire, as initially targeted.

Fab tools
FormFactor has launched its first product for the quantum computing market, the HPD IQ1000, a scanning SQUID (Superconducting Quantum Interference Device) microscope.

With rapid scan speed and process automation, the IQ1000 enables the characterization of trapped magnetic flux in superconducting circuits. Device designers can reduce development times by locating and capturing detrimental magnetic vortices to enhance device performance.

The HPD IQ1000 also helps superconducting circuit designers to gain advantage over competing qubit implementation technologies. “Products like our IQ1000 Scanning SQUID Microscope are critical for quantum technology developers,” said Amy Leong, senior vice president and general manager of the Emerging Growth Business Unit at FormFactor.

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Bruker has announced its preliminary revenue for the first quarter ended March 31. It is expected to report sales in a range of $549 million to $554 million, representing reported revenue growth of 30% to 31%, compared to the first quarter of 2020. This compares favorably to the company’s earlier outlook for greater than 15% growth for the first quarter. Strong revenue performance was driven by double-digit organic year-over-year revenue growth across all three Bruker Scientific Instrument (BSI) groups. Bruker expects to report its first quarter 2021 financial results on May 5.

KLA has expanded its second U.S. headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It recently hired more than 260 people.

Materials
Brewer Science has completed a corporate contribution to Missouri State University Foundation as part of its “Onward, Upward” campaign. With this gift, Brewer Science is supporting the construction of the Jordan Valley Innovation Center (JVIC) building expansion that is expected to be completed in early 2022.

The 30,000 square-foot addition will serve as the main entrance to JVIC and will be known as the Brewer Science Innovation Annex. Brewer Science was a founding affiliate of JVIC in 2007. Brewer Science drives collaborative technology innovation at JVIC in the areas of printed electronics, smart devices and materials development.

Market research
To get some insights for what’s ahead in semiconductors, Semiconductor Engineering talked to Bill McClean, president of IC Insights.

As foundries continue to expand their production capacities this year, TrendForce expects total foundry revenue to reach a historical high of $94.6 billion this year, an 11% growth YoY.

For the first time, China was the largest market for new semiconductor equipment with sales growth of 39% to $18.72 billion in 2020, according to SEMI. Taiwan, the second-largest equipment market, saw flat sales of $17.15 billion in 2020, according to SEMI. Korea remained in third place, registering 61% growth to $16.08 billion. Japan was next, followed by North America.

Here’s the latest from Roskill: Plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales in China reportedly totalled over 484,000 units in Q1 2021, slightly lower than the record-breaking sales observed in Q4 2020, but nearly five times the sales in Q1 2020 and double the reported sales in Q1 2019.

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Good and bad news for PCs. Demand is up. But PC vendors can’t meet demand due to the chip shortages. Global shipments of traditional PCs grew 55.2% year-over-year during the first quarter of 2021, according to IDC. PC shipments reached 84 million worldwide in the first quarter, an 8% decline from the fourth quarter of 2020.

The continued resurgence in the PC market as well as increases in average selling prices (ASPs) have been driven by growth in gaming, notebooks, and touchscreens within the education segment. “Unfulfilled demand from the past year has carried forward into the first quarter and additional demand brought on by the pandemic has also continued to drive volume,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager at IDC. “However, the market continues to struggle with setbacks, including component shortages and logistics issues, each of which has contributed to an increase in average selling prices.”

“There is no question when entering 2021 the backlog for PCs was extensive across business, consumer, and education,” said Ryan Reith, program vice president at IDC. “The ongoing shortages in the semiconductor space only further prolong the ability for vendors to refill inventory and fulfill orders to customers. We believe a fundamental shift has occurred around the PC, which will result in a more positive outlook for years to follow. All three segments – business, education, and consumer – are experiencing demand that we didn’t expect to happen regardless of many countries beginning their ‘opening up’ process. Component shortages will likely be a topic of conversation for the majority of 2021, but the more important question should be what PC demand will look like in 2-3 years.”



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