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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Apple’s 5nm notebooks; Intel slumps; AFM-IR; results; EVs.

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Chipmakers
Apple has introduced its latest MacBook Pro notebooks built around the company’s new, in-house designed processors, dubbed the M1 Pro and M1 Max. The chips, to be incorporated in its 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro systems, are the most powerful devices developed by Apple.

The CPUs in the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips deliver up to 70% faster performance than the first M1 device. Based on a 5nm process from TSMC, the M1 Pro packs in 33.7 billion transistors, more than 2x the amount in M1. A new 10-core CPU includes eight high-performance cores and two high-efficiency cores. M1 Pro has a 16-core GPU and other features. Meanwhile, M1 Max features the same 10-core CPU as M1 Pro and adds a 32-core GPU. With 57 billion transistors, M1 Max is the largest chip Apple has ever built.

At one time, Apple used Intel’s processors for its Mac lines. Now, Apple is developing its own chips for these systems. “AAPL’s Mac system business saw record units of 24M+ over the last 12 months with $35 billion in sales (10% of total) and ~4% of EPS,” said Krish Sankar, an analyst at Cowen.

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Intel has reported sales of $19.2 billion in the third quarter, up 5% over the same period a year ago. Shares fell as Intel missed its third-quarter expectations, according to a report from Reuters. “Third-quarter revenue was led by strong recovery in the enterprise portion of DCG (Data Center Group) and in IOTG (Internet of Things Group), which saw higher demand amid recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19. The Client Computing Group (CCG) was down due to lower notebook volumes due to industry-wide component shortages, and on lower adjacent revenue, partially offset by higher average selling prices (ASPs) and strength in desktop,” according to Intel.

“Intel sees 2022 revenue of at least $74B, with GM in the range of 51-53% over the next 2-3 years and improving thereafter, due to increased investments in capacity and process technology. Capital expenditures are expected to be $25B-$28B in 2022, with potential for further growth in subsequent years. As Intel invests in capacity and process technology, the Company expects revenue growth to accelerate to 10-12% CAGR over the next 4-5 years, driven by its initiative to reclaim process and product leadership,” said John Vinh, an analyst at KeyBanc, in a research note.

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SK Hynix has become the first in the industry to develop an HBM3 memory technology. HBM3 is a fourth-generation HBM technology with a combination of multiple DRAM chips vertically connected. SK Hynix’ HBM3 will be provided in two capacity types of 24GB and 16GB. For the 24GB product, the height of a DRAM chip is approximately 30μm, equivalent to a third of an A4 paper’s thickness. All told, the company’s HBM technology stacks 12 DRAM chips using the through-silicon via technology.

Akoustis, a supplier of bulk acoustic wave (BAW) high-band RF filters for mobile and other wireless applications, is acquiring a 51% majority ownership position of RFM Integrated Device. Akoustis intends to leverage its position in high-frequency BAW with RFM’s growing portfolio of RF filter products.

Fab tools
Bruker has introduced the Dimension IconIR, an infrared spectroscopy and chemical imaging system.

The system combines Bruker’s atomic force microscopy (AFM) capabilities with photothermal IR nanospectroscopy. The combined AFM-IR system is a microscopy solution for quantitative nanochemical, nanomechanical, and nanoelectrical characterization. It provides sub-10nm chemical imaging resolution and incorporates Bruker’s PeakForce Tapping mode technology.

“This new platform extends nanoIR technology into new application segments not currently addressed by the AFM-IR technique, enabling users to undertake more detailed studies to better understand the structure and composition of materials,” said Dean Dawson, senior director and business manager for nanoIR Products at Bruker.

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Lam Research has posted its financial results for the quarter ended Sept. 26. For the September quarter, revenue was $4.304 billion and net income was $1.180 billion, or $8.27 per diluted share. This compares to revenue of $4.145 billion and net income of $1.145 billion, or $7.98 per diluted share, for the quarter ended June 27. “Driven by strong demand and solid execution, Lam delivered its sixth consecutive quarter of record revenue and earnings per share,” said Tim Archer, Lam Research’s president and CEO.

ASML has reported its third quarter results. Q3 net sales were €5.2 billion with a net income of €1.7 billion. ASML expects Q4 2021 net sales between €4.9 billion and €5.2 billion. “ASML’s December quarter revenue outlook was shy of expectations. A combination of materials shortages, startup issues at the new facility (in Veldhoven), and some early shipment requests from customers implies about €300M of DUV system revenues got pushed into 2022,” Cowen’s Sankar said.

UMC has recognized 18 vendors for their contributions at its 2021 Outstanding Supplier Awards. UMC selected 18 winners from over 1,000 companies, whose services contributed to its business. Here’s the companies that received the “Excellent Collaboration and Partnership Award”: Applied Materials, ASML, GlobalWafers, KLA, Lam, Lasertec, Merck Performance Materials, Photronics DNP, Soitec and TEL. Clink here for the list of other winners.

Kyocera will construct two additional ceramic production facilities at its Kokubu Plant Campus in Kagoshima, Japan. The new facilities will double the production capacity for ceramic components used in semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Construction is scheduled to begin in November 2021. The company plans to begin production of ceramic components at the new No.7-1 plant in October 2022, and at the No.7-2 plant in October 2023.

Keysight has acquired SCALABLE Network Technologies, a supplier of communications network simulation and modeling solutions for design, test and analysis, as well as cyber assessment and training.

OEMs
Foxconn has expanded its efforts in the electric vehicle business. At its technology conference, Foxconn has rolled out a trio of electric vehicles: the Model C recreational vehicle, the Model E sedan and the Model T electric bus. Here’s more on Foxconn’s auto efforts. Foxconn also announced plans to establish a software R&D center, which will include 1,500 people across the company. It also plans to recruit over 1,000 more software development engineers in the next three years.

Toyota will invest $3.4 billion (380 billion yen) in automotive batteries in the United States through 2030. The investment is for developing and localizing automotive battery production, including those for battery electric vehicles, and is part of the global total of approx. $13.5 billion (1.5 trillion yen) set aside for investment in battery development and production announced last month by Toyota.

Stellantis and Samsung SDI announced that their companies have entered into a memorandum of understanding to form a joint venture to produce battery cells and modules for North America. Targeted to start in 2025, the plant aims to have an initial annual production capacity of 23 gigawatt hours, with the ability to increase up to 40 gigawatt hours in the future.

Honda recently outlined its strategy in China. All new models Honda will introduce in China after 2030 will be electrified, such as hybrid (HEVs) and EVs. Honda will introduce the first 10 Honda-brand EV models in China, namely the “e:N Series,” in the next five years. The first set of e:N Series models, e:NS1 and e:NP1, will go on sale in spring 2022.

II‐VI was awarded a multimillion-dollar development contract for high-energy rechargeable lithium batteries by the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA). II-VI will develop the technology under the Energy Sources for Intelligence Logistics In Extreme, Novel, and Challenging Environments (RESILIENCE) program. II-VI will work in partnership with EaglePicher Technologies. The goal of RESILIENCE is to develop portable power solutions for electronics and systems that operate in demanding operational environments for years.

Market research
North America-based semiconductor equipment manufacturers posted $3.72 billion in billings worldwide in September 2021, according to SEMI. The billings figure is 1.7% higher than the final August 2021 billings of $3.66 billion and 35.5% higher than September 2020 billings of $2.74 billion. “Monthly billings of North America-based semiconductor equipment manufacturers edged up in September to near the record high set in July,” said Ajit Manocha, president and CEO of SEMI “The ongoing growth in key end-market segments and silicon content continues to drive gains for the semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem including equipment.”

Robot orders in the second quarter of 2021 were up 67% over the same period in 2020, showing a return to pre-COVID 19 pandemic demand, according to the Association for Advancing Automation (A3). North American companies ordered 9,853 robots valued at $501 million in Q2 2021, up from 5,196 sold in Q2 2020, the peak of the pandemic.



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