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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Intel to buy GF?; 22nm; EUV DRAMs; ATE in India; capacity leaders.

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Chipmakers
The chip industry is buzzing over a Wall Street Journal report that Intel is in talks to buy GlobalFoundries (GF) for $30 billion. In March, Intel re-entered the foundry business, positioning itself against Samsung and TSMC at the leading edge, and against a multitude of foundries working at older nodes.

Intel planned to jumpstart its foundry business within its own fabs. But it has a lot to prove. Back in 2010, when Intel initially entered the foundry business, it failed to execute.

Intel could gain a quick entry into the foundry business if indeed it does acquire GF. GF has had its own mishaps in terms of executing, however. In 2018, GF put its 7nm finFET program on hold indefinitely and dropped plans to pursue technology nodes beyond 7nm. And merging Intel and GF would present some challenges.

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TSMC posted strong results for the quarter. The company is also expanding its 28nm capacity within an existing 300mm fab in Nanjing, China, according to a report from the Taipei Times. TSMC is also mulling over the idea of building a fab in Japan. Plus, it is considering to expand its current fab plans in Arizona, according to the report.

Cadence Design Systems’ digital design flow has been optimized and certified for UMC’s 22nm processes. The processes, called 22ULP/ULL, are designed for chips in the consumer, 5G and automotive markets. The flow, which incorporates implementation and signoff technology, enables ultra-low power designs.

SK Hynix has started mass production of an 8-gigabit LPDDR4 mobile DRAM based on the 1anm node using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. SK Hynix is the second DRAM company to use EUV. Samsung is also using EUV for its latest DRAMs.

Achronix Semiconductor, supplier of FPGAs, and ACE Convergence Acquisition, a special-purpose acquisition company, have mutually agreed to terminate their merger agreement.

Mobix Labs, a fabless RF component company, has acquired all of the assets and intellectual property (IP) of Cosemi Technologies, a supplier of high-speed connectivity solutions.

dpiX and Mercury Systems have signed a memorandum of understanding that outlines the companies’ cooperation in the development, prototyping and manufacturing for the next generation displays. dpiX was established in 1999 in California with support of the U.S. Department of Defense and private investors. Based in Colorado Springs, Colo., the company has invested over $250 million in a trusted and IP-secure semiconductor production facility. It’s the largest A-Si semiconductor cleanroom facility outside of Asia.

OEMs
General Motors has announced a $71 million investment to establish a new campus in Pasadena, Calif. GM will open the Advanced Design Center, a move that will increase the center’s capacity and create more jobs in the area. GM’s advanced design teams focus on developing concept and future mobility projects that fall outside the scope of the existing production vehicle programs, such as electric cars, Cadillac’s autonomous concept vehicle, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, and a lunar rover concept developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin.

General Motors has sold 688,236 vehicles in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2021, an increase of 40% compared to a year ago. The market was bolstered by strong customer demand, but constrained by low inventories resulting from the global semiconductor shortage.

VW outlined its new strategy through 2030. VW has earmarked €73 billion for future technologies from 2021 through 2025, representing 50% of total investments. The share of investments into electrification and digitalization will be further increased.

Fab tools, materials
Onto Innovation has joined the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) as an affiliate member. As a member of the alliance, Onto Innovation supports the vision and goals of the RBA. The RBA is a non-profit coalition of companies dedicated to improving social, environmental, and ethical conditions in their global supply chains.

Onto Innovation has announced that senior vice president and chief financial officer, Steven Roth, plans to retire in 2022, after the completion of a search for his successor. Until then, Roth will remain engaged as CFO and will participate in the process to evaluate candidates.

In 2020, Korea’s SK Siltron, a maker of semiconductor wafers, completed the acquisition of DuPont’s silicon carbide wafer unit. The primary site for the business is in Auburn, Mich. This week, SK Siltron CSS has announced plans to invest $300 million and create up to 150 jobs in Bay County, Mich., over the next three years. It plans to provide manufacturing and R&D capabilities of advanced materials for electric vehicles.

Hitachi High-Tech has announced the establishment of Hitachi’s Center of Excellence in Portland, a new centralized facility for semiconductor engineering in Hillsboro, Ore.

NuFlare Technology has named Jun Takamatsu as its new president. Takamatsu will succeed Shigeki Sugimoto, who has retired. Takamatsu had been a managing director at NuFlare.

Test
Advantest will rebrand its subsidiary in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India under the corporate mantle and will expand its support of customer initiatives in the region. Effective June 18, w2bi Mobile Technologies (WMTI) will became Advantest India, a subsidiary of Advantest America. In 2013, Advantest America acquired w2bi (W2BI) and its subsidiary WMTI, a developer of software exclusively for W2BI. Advantest India will contribute to the development of software for a variety of business units within Advantest.

Market research
Who is the leader in terms of fab capacity? “As of December 2020, Taiwan led the world with 21.4% of global wafer capacity installed in that country. In second place was South Korea, which accounted for 20.4% of global wafer capacity. Taiwan was the capacity leader at 200mm wafers. For 300mm wafers, South Korea was at the forefront followed closely by Taiwan,” according to a new research note from IC Insights. Japan is in third place, followed in order by China, North America and Europe, according to the firm.

Global sales of semiconductor manufacturing equipment by original equipment manufacturers are forecast to surpass $100 billion next year, a new high, after jumping 34% to $95.3 billion in 2021 compared to $71.1 billion in 2020, according to a new report from SEMI. “Regionally, Korea, Taiwan and China are projected to remain the top three destinations for equipment spending in 2021, with Korea at the top on the strength of a robust memory recovery and strong investments in leading-edge logic and foundry,” according to SEMI.



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