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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

High-NA EUV R&D; more U.S. packaging; scan test; AVs.

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Fab tools
TEL plans to ship its leading-edge coater/developer system to the joint Imec-ASML research lab, which is working on high-NA extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. The equipment will be integrated with the EXE:5000, ASML’s next-generation high-NA EUV lithography system. The 0.55 numerical aperture (NA) tool is slated to be operational in 2023. Today’s EUV is in production, but there are some issues.

TEL has announced the establishment of E-COMPASS, a supply chain sustainability initiative for the semiconductor and flat-panel display manufacturing equipment industries. TEL aims to align its products and operations more closely with its environmental mandates.

According to Reuters, MKS has been in discussions with Atotech regarding a potential acquisition. “We are not sure whether such a transaction might occur, but we believe M&A activity remains a core element of MKS’ long-term growth strategy,” said Krish Sankar, an analyst with Cowen in a research note. “Atotech is a Germany-based, specialty chemicals technology company with annual revenue of $1.2 billion. We believe Atotech could offer MKS the ability to diversify its revenues in several ways, including: 90% of ATC’s total sales come from ‘wet chemistry’ product sales that we believe are focused on a broad range of consumables that are more correlated with factory production rates rather than capex cycles.”

SEMI has expressed support for the Facilitating American-Built Semiconductors (FABS) Act. Introduced in the Senate, the bill would create a 25% federal tax credit, with an election to receive the tax credit as a direct payment, for investments in semiconductor manufacturing facilities and equipment, as well as facilities and equipment to produce semiconductor manufacturing tools.

Packaging and test
Not long ago, QP Technologies expanded its packaging plant in the U.S. Then, Intel expanded its packaging efforts in the U.S.

Now, NHanced Semiconductors is expanding the cleanroom within its North Carolina manufacturing site. The site will incorporate a new high-volume line of advanced packaging equipment. The new line will run in parallel with the existing prototyping and low-volume production line.

The new line is expected to begin production in the second half of 2022. The expansion enables greater capacity for 2.5D interposer fabrication and die-to-wafer assembly. Domestic sourcing of these technologies is critical to aerospace/defense agencies and many U.S. manufacturers. “Demand for advanced packaging is just booming,” states company President Bob Patti.

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Advantest is pilot testing a next-generation solution for performing both high-speed scan testing and software-driven functional device testing on its V93000 platform by leveraging the existing high-speed serial I/O interfaces on advanced integrated circuits. This approach can correlate scan testing results between established and new test routines, boot up and execute on-chip test software and achieve a seamless end-to-end data flow in conjunction with Advantest’s partners in electronic design automation (EDA).

Chipmakers and OEMs
Autonomous vehicles were the next big thing not long ago. Then reality set in, as the technology is harder than most think. But is it getting closer to reality?

Cruise has started pre-production of the Origin, the company’s first-generation autonomous vehicles. The Origin is built on the foundation GM’s Chevy Bolt. Cruise is owned by GM. GM itself will increase its electric and autonomous vehicle investments to $35 billion from 2020 through 2025, representing a 75% increase from its initial commitment.

In a separate event, Nvidia has agreed to acquire DeepMap, a startup dedicated to building high-definition maps for autonomous vehicles to navigate the world safely.

Market research
An analyst from SEMI recently gave a fab forecast with some surprises.

IC Insights has raised its chip forecast. “Continued per-bit pricing strength in the DRAM and NAND flash markets as well as a better than expected outlook for many of the logic and analog IC product categories were the driving forces behind IC Insights’ full-year 2021 IC market forecast being raised from 19% to 24%,” according to IC Insights. “Even if excluding memory, the total IC market is expected to be up by 21% this year.”

Events
Advantest will host the Virtual VOICE 2021 Developer Conference from June 21-23. The conference will highlight latest solutions and best practices for testing semiconductor devices. This year’s event will include approximately 70 technical presentations and more.

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.



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