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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

GF IPO; carbon neutral chips; 4nm; phone/LCD slowdown; results.

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Chipmakers
After years in the works, GlobalFoundries is finally a public company. But on its first day of trading on Thursday (Oct. 28), shares of the foundry vendor slipped a bit. GF finished its first day of trading at $46.40. This compares to the $47 per share it priced in the initial public offering (IPO), according a report to Reuters. The chipmaker has a market capitalization of about $26 billion.

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Apple has joined Imec’s new Sustainable Semiconductor Technologies and Systems (SSTS) research program. The SSTS program is designed to address the environmental impact of choices made at a chip technology’s definition phase. Using models and detailed (carbon) footprint analysis, the program will help the IC-making industry cut back on its ecological footprint as part of the global fight against climate change, resources depletion and pollution.

“Many systems companies are carbon neutral today for their corporate footprints and have expressed the ambition to have their entire carbon footprint to net zero by 2030. They are very committed to achieving that goal, yet often lack the data to decipher the IC part end-to-end. That is where Imec comes in. We have that data, and are ready to support the industry with all necessary insights, tools, instruments and numbers,” said Luc Van den hove, CEO of Imec. “Moreover, companies realize they can only become carbon neutral if their whole supply chain follows suit. So, that is the snowball effect we want to create – together with Apple – today: I would like to call upon the whole semiconductor value chain not to stand at the side, but to act as one and to join forces with us to cut back the entire semiconductor industry’s ecological footprint.”

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TSMC has introduced its new N4P process, an enhancement of its 5nm technology platform. The new 4nm process will deliver an 11% performance boost over the original N5 technology and a 6% boost over N4. Compared to N5, N4P will also deliver a 22% improvement in power efficiency as well as a 6% improvement in transistor density. “N4P was optimized to provide a further enhanced advanced technology platform for both HPC and mobile applications,” said Kevin Zhang, senior vice president of business development at TSMC. “Between all the variants of N5, N4 and N3 technologies, our customers will have the ultimate flexibility and unmatched choice of the best mix of attributes for their products.”

TSMC has recognized the support and contributions of 11 EDA, IP, and cloud alliance partners at its TSMC 2021 Open Innovation Platform (OIP) Ecosystem Forum. Data analytics specialist proteanTecs and others were recognized by TSMC.

UMC’s third-quarter sales increased 9.8% quarter-over-quarter and 24.6% from a year ago. UMC’s 2021 capital spending budget is set at $2.3 billion, which includes the company’s Fab 12A P6 expansion plan. “In the third quarter, we continued to experience robust chip demand across computing, consumer and communication end segments. Higher 12-inch wafer shipments in the quarter reflected ongoing product mix enhancements and partially contributed to the lift in blended ASP. Overall wafer shipments grew 2.6% quarter-over-quarter to 2.50 million 8-inch equivalents. Revenue from 28nm technologies continued to rise while business engagements in 22nm have led to a growing number of customers’ tape outs across wireless, display, and IoT markets, further diversifying our product pipeline,” said Jason Wang, UMC’s co-president.

QuickLogic has announced the availability of its first customer-defined eFPGA block from its Australis IP Generator. The technology is available in UMC’s 22nm process. The Australis tool enables rapid eFPGA IP generation for nearly any foundry and node.

SK Hynix has acquired Key Foundry, a 200mm foundry company in Korea, according to a report from Businesskorea.

Renesas will acquire Celeno for approximately $315 million. Celeno offers a wide range of wireless communication solutions, including advanced Wi-Fi chipsets and software solutions for home networks, smart buildings, enterprise and industrial markets.

indie Semiconductor has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Analog Devices’ Symeo unit, a developer of RF and sensor technology for high-precision radar.

Zhenghai Group and Rohm have signed an agreement to establish a joint venture company in China. The venture, which will develop silicon carbide (SiC) power modules, will be owned 80% by Shanghai Zhenghai Semiconductor Technology and 20% by Rohm.

Samsung reported its quarterly results. “Samsung reported in-line bit growth for DRAM on strong demand for servers, gaming, and a recovery in mobile. However, the company missed previous guidance for NAND on supply chain issues that disrupted PC set build production and led to inventory adjustments by customers. Looking into Q4 and FY2022, Samsung expects to fortify its technology leadership by deploying 176L (double-stacked) 3D NAND in high density SSDs slated for enterprise PCs and servers, as well as introduce DDR5 DRAM for new server CPUs on its 14nm process node (i.e., 1a) that includes 5 layers of EUV,” said Karl Ackerman, an analyst at Cowen.

AMD reported sales of $4.3 billion for the quarter, up 54% year-over-year and 12% quarter-over-quarter. This was driven by higher revenue in both the computing and graphics segments.

Packaging and test
Advantest posted its quarterly results. The ATE company also entered into an agreement to acquire R&D Altanova, a supplier of interface solutions for both wafer sort and final test applications. The company also has in-house design and simulation and advanced fabrication capabilities (probe cards, load board PCBs, and substrates). R&D Altanova, which is headquartered in South Plainfield, N.J. will become a subsidiary of Advantest America.

Teradyne reported revenue of $951 million for the third quarter of 2021. Net income for the third quarter was $256.7 million or $1.41 per diluted share. “Demand for both our test and industrial automation products remained strong in Q3 and we delivered our eighth consecutive quarter of double-digit, year-on-year revenue and profit growth,” said Teradyne CEO and President Mark Jagiela. “Q4’21 sales are expected to increase over 10% from Q4 2020’s record level on growing demand in industrial/automotive test, storage test, and industrial automation.”

ASE’s quarterly sales were up by 22% year-over-year and 19% sequentially. ASE’s “net profit more than doubled to a record NT$14.18 billion (US$509.45 million) last quarter, as it operated near full capacity due to robust demand from the computer and communications segments,” according to a report from the Taipei Times.

Amkor posted record net sales of $1.68 billion, up 20% sequentially and 24% year-on-year. “All of our end markets set new record revenue levels this quarter,” said Giel Rutten, Amkor’s president and chief executive. “We expect our momentum to continue in the fourth quarter, with 20% year-on-year revenue growth for both the quarter and the full year. We remain confident in our strong market position within the fastest growing semiconductor markets of 5G, automotive, high-performance computing and IoT.”

JCET achieved revenue of RMB 8.10 billion in the third quarter, an increase of 19.3% year-on- year, and net profit of RMB 0.79 billion, a record high third quarter in the company’s history. “After delivering record high results in the first half of 2021, JCET continued its positive momentum of steady growth in the third quarter. In the second half of this year, JCET’s global manufacturing centers continue to optimize their mass production technologies and operational efficiency,” said Li Zheng, CEO of JCET.

Fab tools
KLA has disclosed new and interesting findings about the field of engineering in its KLA Engineering Inspiration Report. The inaugural report notes roughly two-thirds (65%) of engineers and students indicate they entered the field to create something that might change people’s lives. Further, 59% of female engineers say they were challenged in that STEM was not considered an appropriate field for women when they were on the path to engineering.

KLA has reported its results for the quarter. Total revenues were $2.08 billion, finishing towards the upper end of the range of guidance. This compares to $1.925 billion from the previous quarter and $1.539 billion a year ago. “KLA continues to outperform expectations despite significant supply chain challenges,” said Rick Wallace, president and chief executive of KLA.

Lam Research announced the honorees of its 2021 Supplier Excellence Awards. Selected from Lam’s portfolio of suppliers, the ten recipients of this year’s awards demonstrated exemplary performance.

CyberOptics has reported record sales of $27.8 million for the third quarter of 2021 ended Sept. 30, an increase of 33% from $20.8 million in the third quarter of 2020. Net income for the third quarter of 2021 was a record $4.8 million or $0.63 per diluted share, up from earnings of $1.8 million or $0.24 per diluted share in the year-earlier quarter. “Our line-up of 3D Multi-Reflection Suppression (MRS)-based sensing and inspection system products and WaferSense semiconductor sensors have positioned CyberOptics to report record sales and operating earnings for full-year 2021. These products have enabled us to gain traction in our targeted surface mount technology (SMT) and semiconductor capital equipment markets. We believe this strength will persist for some time, making us optimistic about CyberOptics’ fourth quarter performance and outlook for 2022,” said Subodh Kulkarni, president and chief executive at CyberOptics.

BASF has sold its Precision Microchemicals business to Entegris for $90 million. The Precision Microchemicals business makes and sells cleaning chemistries and chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) slurries used in the machining and surface conditioning of electronic materials. The products are primarily used for cleaning and polishing of hard disk drives and wideband gap semiconductors.

OEMs
Ford’s revenues and net income were higher from the second to the third quarter of 2021, driven by significant increases in semiconductor availability and wholesale vehicle shipments from Q2.

GM posted mixed results amid shortages of chips, which impacted car sales. “A common thread through all of this is our clear commitment to U.S. EV leadership. For example, we will have four U.S. battery cell plants by mid-decade, which will double our overall capacity and scale EV production faster,” said GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra.

Market research
The double-digit growth in the smartphone market in the early quarters of 2021 came to an end in the third quarter of 2021 as worldwide shipments declined 6.7% year-over-year, according to a report from IDC. “The supply chain and component shortage issues have finally caught up to the smartphone market, which until now seemed almost immune to this issue despite its adverse impact on many other adjacent industries,” said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC.

Sales of sensors, actuators, and discrete semiconductors are sharply higher in 2021 due to a resurgence in demand, according to IC Insights. “However, optoelectronics sales growth has been somewhat muted in 2021 by the lack of a surge in CMOS image sensors, partly because of trade frictions between the U.S. and China,” according to IC Insights.

With LCD panel prices falling at the fastest rates ever, display industry fab utilization is expected to slow down in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to DSCC.



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