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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

More fabs everywhere; Synopsys buys BISTel process control tech; KLA uncorks auto inspection equipment; FormFactor debuts cryo probe system; billings way up.

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Lots more fabs and capacity
The chip industry sees opportunity in shortages, and is racing to meet demand. SEMI reports 19 new worldwide high-volume fabs already have started construction, or will start by end of this year, and another 10 are scheduled in 2022.

“Equipment spending for these 29 fabs is expected to surpass $140 billion over the next few years as the industry pushes to address the global chip shortage,” said Ajit Manocha, SEMI president and CEO, in a statement. “In the medium and longer term, the fab capacity expansion will help meet projected strong demand for semiconductors stemming from emerging applications such as autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, and 5G to 6G communications.”

GlobalFoundries announced construction of a new 300mm wafer fab on its Singapore site, which it says will add capacity for 450,000 wafers per year. The site currently produces just over 1 million wafers per year. GF is adding 250,000 square feet of cleanroom and administrative space and is expected to create 1,000 new jobs. The new fab was done in partnership with the Singapore Economic Development Board and with co-investments from committed customers at an expected price tag of US $4 billion.

One area that has been particularly hard hit by chip shortages is the automotive sector. Bosch announced that its new 300mm chip factory in Dresden, Germany, is up and running and will primarily focus on manufacturing of automotive chips. The new fab is Bosch’s first “AIoT” factory—combining AI and IoT with a “data-driven, continuous improvement in production, and setting new standards for Industry 4.0.”

Others are becoming active this space, as well. Intel reportedly is in talks to build a chip factory in southern Germany.

Intel, meanwhile, is reorganizing. The company restructured its executive ranks and business units. The Data Platform Group (DPG) will be restructured into two new business units. In addition, Intel is creating two new business units, one focused on software and one on high-performance computing and graphics. The company also named Greg Lavender, VMware’s former CTO, as CTO of Intel’s new Software and Advanced Technology Group.

M&A
Synopsys signed an agreement to acquire manufacturing process control technology from South Korea-based BISTel. The deal, which is expected to close this year, would add predictive analysis and yield management tools into Synopsys’ increasingly widening portfolio.

The Magnachip and Wise Road Capital deal hit a pause after receiving an “Order Establishing Interim Mitigation Measures” from CFIUS.

New equipment
KLA launched a new suite of automotive chip manufacturing products: the 8935 high productivity patterned wafer inspection system, the C205 broadband plasma patterned wafer inspection system, the Surfscan SP A2/A3 unpatterned wafer inspection systems, and I-PAT inline defect part average testing screening solution. “Tailored for fabs producing automotive chips, our new products detect potential reliability defects at the source and provide an innovative solution for inline screening. These actions help fabs achieve production of high quality, high reliability chips at high yield to maximize their output,” said Ahmad Khan, president of the Semiconductor Process Control business unit at KLA.

In collaboration with Northrop Grumman, FormFactor introduced an automated cryogenic wafer probe system to enable superconducting compute applications. “The ability to conduct testing at or below 4 Kelvin is critical to the development of superconducting circuits,” said Vern Boyle, VP, advanced processing solutions at Northrop Grumman. “Performing these tests at the wafer-level provides a significant increase in production throughput at scale.”

Numbers
Billings from North America-based equipment manufacturers were up 53.1% in May 2021 versus May 2020, and 4.7% higher than April 2021, according to SEMI. In dollars, May 2021 billings were $3.59 billion versus $2.34 billion a year ago.

Research
At the 2021 Symposia on VLSI Technology and Circuits (VLSI 2021), Imec demonstrated for the first time fully functional integrated forksheet FETs, with short-channel control comparable to gate-all-around (GAA) nanosheet devices down to 22nm gate length. Dual work function metal gates are integrated at 17nm spacing between n- and pFETs. This is more option to enable continued scaling.

Also at VLSI 2021, Imec presented its progress in the device characteristics of electron-spin qubits in terms of the uniformity and tunability needed to create qubit arrays for computing purposes.

Stanford researchers reportedly have made a breakthrough in flexible electronics by inventing a manufacturing technique that “yields flexible, atomically thin transistors less than 100 nanometers in length – several times smaller than previously possible. “

IBM and Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Science (IISc) announced the launch of the IBM-IISc Hybrid Cloud lab to advance research in hybrid cloud technologies.

Events
The AVS 21st International Conference on Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD 2021) featuring the 8th International Atomic Layer Etching Workshop will be held virtually on June 27-30.

SEMICON Taiwan has been rescheduled to either December 2021 or January 2022 due to an outbreak in COVID-19 cases in Taiwan in May.

The virtual Electronics, Components and Technology Conference (ECTC 2021) continues through July 4, with both pre-recorded and live components. It also will be available as an on-demand webcast for the duration of the conference.

Upcoming Webinars

Siemens is hosting an on-demand webinar on chip development and lifecycle strategies, which looks at improvement in key process capabilities, technology support, and best practices in fabs, fabless, IDMs, foundries, and OSATs or subcons.

Ansys is hosting a live webinar on clock jitter on Tuesday, June 29, for North America and Europe, and Thursday, July 1, in Asia. The focus is on accurate modeling of dynamic voltage drop, and how to spot violations quickly.

Find more upcoming chip industry events here.

And finally…
Check out the most recent SE Manufacturing, Packaging & Materials newsletter, with a special report on Bumps Vs. Hybrid Bonding For Advanced Packaging and four top stories: Fan-Out Packaging Options Grow, Finding, Predicting EUV Stochastic Defects, Thinner Channels With 2D Semiconductors and Geopolitical And Economic Outlook For Chips And Equipment.



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