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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Intel rolls chips, outsourcing plans; forecasts; IC rankings; earnings.

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Chipmakers, OEMs
At Intel’s Architecture Day this week, the company revealed several new chip architectures. Some were already announced, while others are new. These include Intel’s first performance hybrid architecture, a data center architecture, a discrete gaming graphics processing unit (GPU) architecture, infrastructure processing units (IPUs), and a data center GPU architecture. Here’s a video of the entire event.

Meanwhile, for years, Intel has outsourced a percentage of its chip production to outside foundries. These involve chips at mature nodes. More recently, Intel has been talking about outsourcing more of its leading-edge chips to foundries, especially TSMC. At its Architecture Day event, Intel revealed more details about its outsourcing strategy. “Significant elements of (the) graphics products will be manufactured externally, using TSMC’s N6 and N5 process technologies,” said Stuart Pann, senior vice president of the Corporate Planning group at Intel, in a blog.

Intel is also expanding its own fab capacity, and accelerating its leading-edge process development. At the same time, Intel is re-entering the foundry business, although the company hasn’t disclosed its strategy here. Even so, Intel will likely compete against TSMC and other foundries, while it outsources production to third-party foundries as well.

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Cree and STMicroelectronics have expanded their existing multi-year silicon carbide (SiC) wafer supply agreement. The amended agreement, which calls for Cree to supply ST with 150mm silicon carbide bare and epitaxial wafers over the next several years, is now worth more than $800 million.

Toyota posted mixed results in the quarter. The car company also made adjustments to its production operations amid an outbreak of Covid-19 in Southeast Asia. It suspended production in 27 lines within 14 plants. This in turn will result in part shortages for the car maker.

Xanadu and Imec have announced a partnership to develop next-generation photonic qubits based on ultra-low loss silicon nitride (SiN) waveguides. A SiN wafer with photonic integrated circuits will be manufactured on Imec’s 200mm line. Xanadu is developing a quantum computer based on photonics. Photonic qubits are based on squeezed states, a special type of light generated by silicon photonic devices. This approach uses particles of light to carry information through photonic chips, rather than electrons or ions used by other approaches.

Fab tools
TEL’s sales jumped 43.6% for the quarter. The company sees robust demand for equipment in leading-edge logic and memory. It sees a 40% increase in wafer fab equipment (WFE) spending in 2021, compared to 2020. “The breakdown (of WFE) is roughly 50% for leading-edge logic/foundry, roughly 15% to 20% for DRAM and the remainder for other investments,” according to TEL. “We expect to see high levels of WFE investment in CY2022 as well. In such an environment, if customers request some investments to be pulled forward from CY2022, it is possible that the YoY growth rate for CY2021 will exceed 40%.”

Applied Materials has posted its results for the quarter. It reported record quarterly revenue of $6.20 billion, up 41% year-over-year. In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021, Applied expects net sales to be approximately $6.33 billion, plus or minus $250 million.

Mycronic’s Assembly Solutions High Volume division has signed an agreement to acquire China’s Shenzhen Huan Cheng Xin Precision, a supplier of automated screen printers as well as pick and place machines.

Packaging
QP Technologies, formerly Quik-Pak, has installed two new Hesse Mechatronics ultrasonic wire bonders at its 20,000-square-foot facility. The automated bonders allow QP to provide more advanced wedge bonding capabilities for several key markets. They include: radio frequency (RF); power semiconductors like gallium arsenide (GaN) and silicon carbide (SiC); and military/aerospace.

The Hesse systems – the Bondjet BJ855 fine wire wedge bonder and the Bondjet BJ939 heavy wire wedge bonder – both deliver bonding speed and working area in a small footprint. “Wire bonding is a core component of our IC assembly capabilities,” said QP Technologies COO Ken Molitor. “Adding these systems to our line enables us to better address customer requirements for a wider range of substrate and chip types within core markets, as well as for new markets such as compact battery modules used in mobile and automotive applications.”

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JCET has reported its financial results. For the second quarter of 2021, revenue was RMB 7.11 billion, an increase of 13.4% year on year. Net profit was RMB 0.94 billion, a record high second quarter in the company’s history. For the first half, revenue was RMB 13.82 billion, an increase of 15.4% year on year.

Government policy, jobs
President Joe Biden has nominated Matthew Axelrod as assistant secretary for export enforcement in the Department of Commerce. This position handles export controls and dual-use policies for the U.S.

The Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) recently approved a series of measures to encourage more investment in research and development (R&D) in that nation. The incentives are now in place amid a slew of global challenges.

SEMI has formed a new partnership with Heroes MAKE America, an initiative of the Manufacturing Institute (MI) to build connections between the U.S. military community and the manufacturing industry. The MI is a workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers. “About 200,000 men and women transition out of the military each year, and many of them have the skills and experience that would position them to excel in our industry,” said Ajit Manocha, SEMI president and CEO.

Market research
There is a new semiconductor leader in terms of sales for second quarter of 2021. “Driven by surging demand and rising prices for DRAM and flash memory, Samsung, the world’s largest memory supplier, saw its total semiconductor sales increase 19% in 2Q21 to $20.3 billion, moving it past Intel and into first place to become the world’s largest semiconductor supplier for 2Q21,” according to IC Insights. TSMC remains in third place, followed by SK Hynix and Micron, according to the firm.

Here’s the latest chip forecast from VLSI Research. “Semiconductor sales are expected to increase 26% in 2021 driven by the 5G proliferation, continued buildout of IT infrastructure, and ongoing economic recovery. Memory will lead the way with sales surging nearly 30% in 2021 as the recovery there gains more traction,” according to VLSI.

DRAM is in tight supply. On the other hand, there is excess capacity for NAND. To get a handle on the status of the memory market, Semiconductor Engineering talked to Jim Feldhan, president of Semico.

DSCC has raised its 2020-2025 display equipment forecast on a move-in basis by 12%, compared to its previous forecast. “We raised 2020-2025 LCD spending by 38% to $32B on a number of new LCD projects,” according to DSCC. “We kept OLED spending flat at $47B.”

IDC found that more than one third of organizations worldwide have experienced a ransomware attack or breach that blocked access to systems or data in the previous 12 months. “Ransomware has become the enemy of the day; the threat that was first feared on Pennsylvania Avenue and subsequently detested on Wall Street is now the topic of conversation on Main Street,” said Frank Dickson, an analyst at IDC. “As the greed of cybermiscreants has been fed, ransomware has evolved in sophistication, moving laterally, elevating privileges, actively evading detection, exfiltrating data, and leveraging multifaceted extortion. Welcome to digital transformation’s dark side!”



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