Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Intel CPU delays; TI buys fab; supercomputers; litho; Lam’s green push.


Chipmakers and OEMs
More delays and product woes at Intel. “INTC disclosed that it is delaying the launch of its next-generation Xeon server processor Sapphire Rapids (10nm) from the end of this year to 1Q22 due to additional validation needed for the chip,” said John Vinh, an analyst at KeyBanc, in a research note. “Production is expected to begin in 1Q22, with the ramp expected to begin in 2Q22. We view this delay as incrementally negative for INTC and incrementally positive for AMD, as it will make it more difficult for Intel to stem share loss and allow AMD to continue share gains in servers.”

Here’s more on Sapphire Rapids. Intel has already experienced several delays at 10nm and 7nm. Intel’s 10nm processors are shipping, but 7nm is still in the works.


TI has signed an agreement to acquire Micron Technology’s 300mm fab in Lehi, Utah, for $900 million. The Lehi fab will be TI’s fourth 300mm fab, joining DMOS6, RFAB1 and the soon-to-be-completed RFAB2. The fab will start with 65nm and 45nm production for TI’s analog and embedded processing products and be able to go beyond those nodes as required.

Until recently, Intel and Micron co-developed 3D XPoint, which is based on phase-change memory technology. Intel sells solid-state storage drives (SSDs) using 3D XPoint. In the Utah fab, Micron was producing this memory technology for both Micron and Intel. Then, not long ago, Micron exited the 3D XPoint market and put the fab up for sale. Meanwhile, Micron also posted its results.


STMicroelectronics and Tower Semiconductor have joined forces to accelerate the production ramp of ST’s R3 300mm fab in Italy. As part of the deal, ST will share the cleanroom space with Tower in R3. Both companies will invest in their respective process equipment and work together on the acceleration of the fab qualification and subsequent ramp-up. In the early stages, 130nm, 90nm and 65nm processes for smart power, analog mixed signal and RF processes will be qualified in R3. The fab is expected to be ready for equipment installation later this year, and it will start production in the second half of 2022.

Fugaku is still the world’s fastest supercomputer, according to the 57th edition of the TOP500 rankings. Fugaku is an ARM-based supercomputer built by Japan’s Riken and Fujitsu. Summit, an IBM-built supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, remains in the No. 2 spot worldwide. Sierra, a system at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is at No. 3, followed by China’s Sunway TaihuLight. Perlmutter, a new entrant, is now at No. 5.

R&D news
CEA-Leti has announced that Sebastien Dauvé has been named CEO, succeeding Emmanuel Sabonnadiere. Dauvé was also named director of CEA-Leti. In 2003, he joined CEA-Leti. In 2016, he became director of CEA-Leti’s Systems Division. Meanwhile, Soitec has appointed Sabonnadiere as the new vice president of its silicon carbide (SiC) program.

CMC Microsystems (CMC), a non-profit national organization that accelerates technology research and commercialization, has a plan to accelerate high-tech manufacturing in Canada, including specialty semiconductors. CMC has brought together 14 project founders from industry, academia and non-profit technology research organizations to support a five-year program called Fabrication of Integrated Components for the Internet’s Edge – FABrIC.

The Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) has approved a series of measures to encourage more investment in research and development in the nation. Enhanced incentives are also offered to attract investment in the growing semiconductor, digital and packaging industries.

Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC) has announced the addition of MediaTek as its newest member. MediaTek joins eight of the top 10 semiconductor companies as members of the SRC Research Consortium.

Fab tools
In a video, Aki Fujimura, CEO of D2S, interviews Vivek Singh about his new role as vice president of the Advanced Technology Group at Nvidia. Singh is a former technologist at Intel. Singh and his team are working on computational lithography.

Lam Research has published its annual environmental, social, and governance report, detailing the company’s progress in reducing its environmental footprint. “I’m pleased to announce our goals detailed in the ESG Report include operating 100% on renewable energy by 2030 and becoming carbon net zero by 2050 to contribute to a more sustainable world,” said Tim Archer, president and chief executive of Lam Research.

As expected, MKS Instruments has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Atotech. The equity value of the transaction is $5.1 billion and the enterprise value of the transaction is $6.5 billion. MKS and Atotech have complementary solutions in key advanced electronics markets, with MKS’ expertise in via drilling and Atotech in electroplating.

Semicon Taiwan has been postponed from September 8-10 to December 2021 or January 2022 in response to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Taiwan, SEMI Taiwan announced. The new event date will be announced once it has been confirmed.

Packaging and test
Advantest has announced the results of a clinical study on the identification of COVID-19 viruses using the company’s nanoSCOUTER fine particle measurement instrument. The results were published in Nature Communications.

Micross Components, a provider of chip assembly services, has acquired Semi Dice, a provider of high-reliability die and wafer products.

Market research
According to Strategy Analytics, Apple’s revenue from A-series and M-series applications processors jumped 54% to $2 billion in Q1 2021. “iPhones continued to represent the majority of Apple’s processor revenue and accounted for 64% of Apple’s total processor revenue in Q1 2021. The Apple Silicon M1 Arm-based processor, used in Macs and iPads, replaced Intel’s Core microprocessors and reignited the mobile computing wars. We estimate that the Apple Silicon M1 processor accounted for over 13% of Apple’s total processor revenue in Q1 2021,” said Sravan Kundojjala, an analyst at Strategy Analytics.

Sales of new energy vehicles, including battery-electric and plug-in vehicles, are projected to reach 4.35 million units in 2021, a 49% increase, according to TrendForce.

Global shipments of virtual reality (VR) headsets grew 52.4% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2021, according to IDC. “Standalone headsets, which feature an all-encompassing design such as the Oculus Quest 2 or the HTC Vive Focus, accounted for the vast majority of shipments, capturing 82.7% share during the quarter, up from 50.5% in the first quarter of 2020,” according to IDC. “The growing popularity of gaming, as well as fitness, has helped spread consumer awareness of VR while companies like Facebook have made the tech more accessible.”

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