Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

SE Asia lockdown; foundry rankings; green foundry; 6/5nm processes.


Government policy
The Malaysian government has extended its lockdown due to the pandemic until June 14, a move that may impact the global electronics supply chain, according to TrendForce.

Malaysia recently implemented MCO 3.0 (Movement Control Order), the nation’s pandemic control measure. Malaysia is home to many fab equipment, packaging and testing facilities, as well as passive component plants.

The control order excludes the semiconductor industry. Currently, packaging and testing operations of major IDMs (Intel, Infineon, and TI) and OSAT operators (ASE, Amkor and others) are unaffected. But TrendForce predicts a supply-side bottleneck in the passive components market as a result of MCO 3.0. Lead times and shipping delays will dictate how long a constraint in the supply chain will last. Suppliers that may be affected due to MCO 3.0 include Taiyo Yuden, Walsin Technology, NDK, and Epson.


Semiconductors and supply-chain resilience are becoming a major focus for governments worldwide. China, Japan, Korea, the European Union, the U.S. and even India have rolled out new national industrial policies for semiconductor manufacturing and R&D within their borders, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).

But as reported, the U.S. is lagging in chip manufacturing and R&D. This week, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer continued his push for the Senate to pass the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. It provides $52 billion in federal investments to fund chip R&D and manufacturing in the U.S. Here’s what this act involves. In a release, Schumer says that he is pushing for chip manufacturing in New York. Schumer “has personally urged” Samsung, Intel, and Micron to look at the possibility of locating their next U.S. chip production facilities in New York.


Japan has outlined a “national project” for semiconductors, according to a report from Bloomberg and The Edge. “Japan’s share of global semiconductor sales dwindled to just 10% in 2019, down from 50% in 1988. The country still has 84 chip factories, the most in the world, but they’re not producing enough high-end products. As a result, Japan now has to import 64% of its semiconductors,” according to the report.

President Biden has amended a ban on U.S. companies making investments in Chinese firms. The ban involves 59 firms with alleged ties to China’s military, including Huawei.

TrendForce has released its top foundry rankings in terms of sales in the first quarter of 2021. TSMC remains in first place, followed by Samsung, UMC, GlobalFoundries and SMIC. Many foundry vendors face a shortage of capacity, causing them to raise prices. The quarterly total revenue of the top 10 foundries rose by 1% to a record high of $22.75 billion in the first quarter of 2021.

IC Insights has released its rankings for the top analog suppliers in terms of sales in 2020. TI remains in first place, followed by ADI. Vaulting into third place was Skyworks.

TSMC has rolled out its latest technologies at its 2021 Technology Symposium. In one announcement, TSMC is introducing N5A, a new version of its 5nm process. N5A is designed for the growing demand for compute power in automotive. TSMC also debuted N6RF, a process designed for RF applications, such as 5G, WiFi 6/6e and others. N6RF supports power and area reduction for 5G RF transceivers in both the sub-6GHz and mmWave spectrum bands. Finally, TSMC also rolled out some new packaging solutions.

Earlier this year, TSMC announced plans to establish a subsidiary in Japan to expand its 3D-IC material research. This week, the Japanese government finalized the plan. The R&D site, to begin operation in 2022, will be located at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, according to a report from Nikkei. Over 20 Japanese companies will participate in the venture.

UMC plans to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company is committed to use 100% renewable energy by 2050 by setting progressive goals of 15% by 2025 and 30% by 2030. UMC has also obtained admission into RE100, becoming the second semiconductor wafer foundry in this initiative. It is also teaming up with more than 500 suppliers, including Applied Materials, TEL, and Photronics DNP Semiconductor Mask in cutting carbon emissions with the goal of a 20% reduction and raising renewable energy to 20% of total power consumption by 2030.

Renesas has provided an update regarding a fab fire that hit its 300mm facility on March 19. As reported, the fire hit the N3 Building (300mm line) of the Naka Factory in Japan. N3, which resumed operation on April 17, has recovered to 88% at the end of May. Sometime after mid-June, Renesas aims for the production capacity to return to 100%.

Amid a semiconductor shortage in the market, General Motors is taking steps to increase car deliveries to dealers and customers in the United States and Canada.

Fab tools
CyberOptics has received a new follow-on order valued at $4.2 million for its SQ3000 Multi-Function systems for mini LED inspection and metrology. Revenue from the order is expected to be recognized in the second half of 2021.

Brewer Science has obtained ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems Certification. This certification is an occupational health and safety standard developed and published by the International Organization of Standardization (ISO). Brewer Science is now certified in three different ISO standards.

Advanced Energy has acquired Tegam, a provider of metrology and calibration instrumentation used in semiconductor and advanced industrial markets.

JCET has completed the acquisition of ADI’s Singapore test facility. Under the plan, ADI’s test staff will be transferred to JCET in the near future. Details of the sale were not disclosed. The move is part of JCET’s plan to expand its packaging and test business.

A*STAR’s Institute of Microelectronics (IME) and NexGen Wafer Systems have established a laboratory in Singapore. The lab will develop chemical wet etching and wafer substrate thinning processes for semiconductor IC fabrication and 3D wafer-level packaging technology. NexGen will install its wet etching process and substrate measurement systems in the lab. IME is contributing its facilities, IP and R&D experts.


Do you want to learn more about IC packaging? The Electronics, Components and Technology Conference (ECTC) is the premier international packaging conference. ECTC 2021 will be held in virtual format. Special sessions and panels will have both a pre-recorded and a live component.

The conference will include over 350 technical papers organized into 46 topical sessions, where each session will be available as an on-demand webcast for the duration of the conference, which will open on Tuesday, 1 June and close on Sunday, 4 July. To learn more about the conference, go to the ECTC site. Registration is open.

Chinese rare earth prices reached a high point in February, but the prices are now all over the map, according to a new report from Roskill.

Market research
Global semiconductor equipment billings increased 51% year-over-year and 21% from the prior quarter to $23.6 billion, according to SEMI. The data was compiled by SEMI and the Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan (SEAJ).

Despite the short-term impact as a result of the pandemic, the silicon carbide (SiC) device market revenue continues its growth and is expected to exceed $3 billion by 2025, according to Yole. “However, following the global Covid-19 outbreak, almost all automotive OEMs had to shut down and the supply chain faced significant disruption,” said Ezgi Dogmus, an analyst at Yole. “In this context, we expect the power SiC market’s Y-o-Y growth to slow down to 7% in 2020.”

The RF GaN market is expected to reach over $2.4 billion by 2026, according to Yole. GaN-on-SiC is the main technology platform in RF GaN. “However, as a key challenger, GaN-on-Si is still in the game, promising cost-efficient and scalable solutions. Despite the tiny market volume as of Q2/2021, GaN-on-Si PAs attract smartphones OEMs owing to their large bandwidth and small form factor. Its adoption in some sub-6GHz 5G handset models is likely soon, following the significant technology progress of innovative players. This would certainly mark a milestone for the GaN-on-Si RF industry,” said Poshun Chiu, an analyst at Yole.

July 26 is the call for papers deadline for IEEE’s International Conference on Physical Assurance & Inspection Of Electronics (PAINE), which will be held 11/30-12/2/21.

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