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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Intel fab reorg; EUV race; expensive 5G phones.

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Chipmakers
Amid ongoing delays with its 10nm process, Intel has reorganized its manufacturing unit, according to a report from The Oregonian/OregonLive. Sohail Ahmed, who has jointly led the unit since 2016, will retire next month, according to the report.

The industry is racing to put extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography into production. TSMC recently taped-out its first 7nm chip using EUV with plans to put the technology into production in the second quarter of 2019. This week, Samsung announced that it has completed all process technology development and has started wafer production at 7nm using EUV. This involves Samsung’s 7LPP (Low Power Plus) technology. EUV will reduce the process steps and cost in the manufacturing flow.

Micron has announced its intent to acquire the remaining interest from Intel in the IM Flash Technologies joint venture. The announcement was expected.

The Silicon Integration Initiative, an R&D joint venture, has announced that IBM and GlobalFoundries have contributed technology to support the Si2 Unified Power Model standard, the industry’s first major power model enhancement in years.

Fab tools
Lam Research posted its financial results for the quarter ended Sept. 23. Revenues were $2.33 billion.

In a video, Aki Fujimura, chief executive of D2S, discussed the key takeaways from this year’s SPIE Photomask Technology and EUV Lithography Conference.

Ernst Tiedemann has stepped down as chairman of Force Technology. Vice chairman Frederik Smidth will take over the position of chairman, and Jesper Haugaard will become the new vice chairman.

Market research
Total wafer shipments in 2018 year are expected to eclipse the all-time market high set in 2017 and continue to reach record levels through 2021, according to SEMI’s recent semiconductor industry annual silicon shipment forecast.

A new report by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) shows that a new record high of 381,000 robots were shipped globally in 2017, up 30% from 2016.

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Waiting for 5G? 5G smartphones will carry wholesale costs of more than $750 when they are introduced in 2019, translating to retail prices of as much as $1,000 or more, according to a report from Strategy Analytics.

Ville-Petteri Ukonaho, an analyst with the firm, said: “5G has many more risks than rewards for most vendors in the short term. We believe caution about the speed of 5G ramp up and slope of the price/performance curve for devices is critical. Unlike current generation smartphones, 5G devices will require a number of changes in order to provide the best performance, including new chipsets and additional antennas. 5G devices will be the most complex and expensive ever.”

Ken Hyers, another analyst with the firm, added: “It requires magical thinking to expect that consumers are going to rush to buy 5G smartphones that are bigger, and more expensive than any phone that they’ve ever bought before. Only 9% of Chinese customers, for example, buy phones whose wholesale prices start at $500 and up. Without scale from China to drive device prices lower, can 5G forecasts from operators and device vendors really live up to their lofty ambitions? Slower uptake is a real threat unless someone closes the gap to 4G performance.”



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