Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

5nm foldable phones; 5G SiPs; DRAM prices; chip education.


Chipmakers and OEMs
Samsung has announced its latest foldable smartphones–the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G and Galaxy Z Flip3 5G. The systems are based on Samsung’s 5nm application processor. One system is the company’s most affordable foldable phone. The Galaxy Z Fold3 is $1,799.99, while the Galaxy Z Flip3 is $999.99.

Samsung also announced two smartwatches—the Galaxy Watch4 and Galaxy Watch4 Classic. The watches are based on a new 5nm processor for wearables–the Exynos W920. Integrating an LTE modem, the processor is manufactured using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography.

Foxconn posted mixed results. The company said that the component shortage situation won’t improve in the second half, according to a report from the Taipei Times.

Chip shortages strike again. Volvo reported global sales of 56,883 cars in July, down 8.7% compared with the same period last year. “The decrease was mainly a result of lower sales numbers in Europe, as well as an unusually strong global sales performance in July last year, when dealers started to open for deliveries after Covid-19 lockdowns. Further, volumes were impacted by the global shortage of semiconductors,” according to the car maker.

Pixelworks has announced a plan to transform its Shanghai subsidiary from an R&D center into a profit center for the mobile, projector, and video delivery businesses. It plans to file an initial public offering for that unit on the STAR market in China.

Rockley Photonics, a silicon photonics technology company, has completed its business combination with SC Health. The combined company will retain Rockley Photonics. The entity will commence trading on the NYSE under the new ticker symbol “RKLY” on August 12.

Fab, analytic tools
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has installed Bruker’s 15.2 Tesla ultra-high field magnetic resonance imaging system. The system, called the BioSpec, enables new capabilities at the KIT’s Institute of Microstructure Technology. The system increases automation of MRI scans, enabling a higher throughput, and the ability to correlate measurements from multiple analytical techniques.

PDF Solutions’ revenues for the second quarter of 2021 were $27.4 million, compared to $24.2 million for the first quarter of 2021 and $21.4 million for the second quarter of 2020. Analytics revenue for the second quarter of 2021 was $19.6 million, compared to $19.4 million for the first quarter of 2021 and $15.2 million for the second quarter of 2020. Integrated Yield Ramp revenue for the second quarter of 2021 was $7.8 million, compared to $4.8 million for first quarter of 2021 and $6.2 million for the second quarter of 2020.

TEL has released its 2021 sustainability report. The report highlights TEL’s sustainability initiatives that have been conducted globally through its business operations.

Amkor Technology is advancing its system-in-package (SiP) technology for use in 5G RF module designs. Amkor’s technology involves a double-sided, molded ball grid array (DSMBGA). DSMBGA increases the level of integration for RF front-end modules used in smartphones and other mobile devices.

“With our DSMBGA platform, we’ve established a preferred advanced packaging solution for this domain,” said Giel Rutten, Amkor’s president and CEO. “Applying leading-edge design rules for 3D component placement and double-sided molding—together with conformal and compartmental shielding and in-line RF testing—delivers best-in-class integration levels in a small form factor in a high yield manufacturing process.”

U.S. Representatives Eric Swalwell (CA-15) and Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) have introduced a bipartisan bill to help stimulate the production of rare earth magnets in the U.S. The Rare Earth Magnet Manufacturing Production Tax Credit Act would create a production tax credit for rare earth magnets that are manufactured in the United States. “No domestic manufacture of them currently exists. These magnets are used in a wide variety of applications necessary for our modern economy, such as computer hard disks, cell phones, and MRIs. They are also critical for certain clean energy uses. For example, 93% of all electric vehicles contain a powertrain driven by one of these magnets,” according to the representatives.

Market research, education
Bad news for DRAM buyers. “Suppliers and clients in the server DRAM market are still having difficulty in reaching agreements on prices for 3Q21 contracts even though the quarter is well underway,” according to a report from TrendForce. “Hence, server DRAM contract prices are much more varied than before. Regarding the price trend in July, contract quotes for the mainstream 32GB RDIMMs rose by 5-7% MoM.”

What’s happening in the microcontroller (MCU) market? “Despite some ongoing shortages of microcontrollers and automakers having to temporarily close assembly lines this year, automotive MCU sales are forecast to surge 23% in the economic recovery of 2021 to a record-high level of $7.6 billion, followed by strong increases of 14% in 2022 and 16% in 2023,” according to a report from IC Insights.

Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) plans to establish a College of Semiconductor Research (CoSR). The institute will be headed by Burn Lin, a former lithography executive at TSMC. The college will consist four semiconductor disciplines–devices, design, processes, and materials. Lin said that CoSR’s main focus is raising the competitiveness in Taiwan’s chip industry. CoSR has received an annual endowment totaling over NT$130 million from Micron, TEL, TSMC, Powerchip, GlobalWafers, Unimicron, UMC, Vanguard, Novatek and Nanya Technology.

Students across eleven high schools in California and Oregon were awarded the Lam Research High School Core Value Scholarships to help them as they begin their college careers. These students demonstrate academic achievement, school and community involvement.

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