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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Amkor expands; SiC; 3nm analytics, AI center; DRAM downturn.

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Packaging
Amkor plans to build a packaging plant in Bac Ninh, Vietnam. The first phase of the new factory will focus on providing system-in-package (SiP) assembly and test services for customers. The investment for the first phase of the facility is estimated to be between $200 million and $250 million.

“This is a strategic, long-term investment in geographical diversification and factory capacity expansion, supporting the company’s commitment to reliable supply chain solutions for our customers. Factory utilization is high, particularly at our advanced packaging sites, and we expect the strong market demand for assembly and test solutions to continue. Investing in Bac Ninh expands our manufacturing footprint in support of customer need for an alternative cost-competitive supply chain solution for advanced SiP – and for other packaging solutions in the future,” said Giel Rutten, Amkor’s president and chief executive.

“The Bac Ninh site, located in the Yen Phong 2C Industrial Park, is approximately 230,000 square meters, or about 57 acres, providing us with room for the first phase and future expansion,” added Rutten. “Construction for the first phase of clean room space, which is currently estimated at 20,000 square meters, is expected to commence in 2022, and high-volume manufacturing is expected to begin by the second half of 2023, based on projected customer product cycles.”

Chipmakers
Qorvo has entered the silicon carbide (SiC) market by acquiring United Silicon Carbide (UnitedSiC), a fabless supplier of SiC power semiconductors. The acquisition expands Qorvo’s reach into the fast-growing markets for electric vehicles, industrial power, circuit protection, renewables and data center power supplies. United Silicon Carbide will become part of Qorvo’s Infrastructure & Defense Products business. Chris Dries, formerly United Silicon Carbide’s president and CEO, is now general manager of Qorvo’s Power Device Solutions unit.

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The Army Research Office and the Army Research Laboratory will contribute more than $5 million in funding for a SiC fabrication facility at the University of Arkansas.

The grants — $4.5 million from the Army Research Office and $900,000 from the Army Research Laboratory — come on the heels of an $18 million grant from the National Science Foundation to fund construction and operation of the national fabrication facility. The Army Research Office grant will be used for equipment, and the Army Research Laboratory grant for student and staff compensation, tuition and materials for supporting collaborative research activities.

The facility will develop prototype SiC devices. It will provide domestic opportunities for prototyping, proof-of-principle demonstrations and device design. It will be the first open-access fabrication facility of its kind in the U.S., meaning its facilities and services will be available to external researchers.

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Taiwan foundry vendor Vanguard International Semiconductor has increased its capital spending amid booming chip demand, according to a report from the Taipei Times.

Tower Semiconductor and Anello Photonics, a developer of so-called Silicon Photonic Optical Gyroscope technology, have announced a strategic partnership for a new low-loss silicon optical waveguide technology and manufacturing process. The foundry version of the process will enable adoption in a wide range of markets, such automotive LiDAR, bio-sensing, quantum computing, AI, microwave photonics and optical communications.

SkyWater has announced that its Minnesota fab has completed certification to AS9100, the standardized quality management system for organizations that design, develop or provide aviation, space and defense products and services. The designation is the result of passing stringent audit requirements and evaluations of the facility’s manufacturing processes.

Fab tools
Data analytics specialist proteanTecs has announced that its Universal Chip Telemetry (UCT) monitoring technology now supports TSMC’s 3nm process. The data analytics company has developed enterprise cloud and edge monitoring software based on deep data. The novel data is generated by on-chip monitoring IPs that are built for analytics. Once deployed in the field, service providers can be alerted on faults before failures, reduce maintenance costs and RMAs.

“This announcement marks yet another milestone achieved in our long-term collaboration with TSMC to bring scale and optimization to the industry, with visibility into the 3nm generation of silicon process nodes, from production to lifetime operation. Chip makers, system manufacturers, and service providers gain the assurance they need to bring robust and competitive products to market,” commented Evelyn Landman, CTO of proteanTecs.

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KLA has announced the opening of two facilities in Chennai, India. KLA’s Artificial Intelligence-Advanced Computing Lab (AI-ACL)—operated in partnership with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras—will serve as a center of excellence for AI-focused research and development. In addition, a new office space in Chennai expands KLA’s existing business operations as the company continues to grow and hire from the region.

Separately, KLA announced the official opening of its second U.S. headquarters, a $200 million facility in Ann Arbor, Mich. Following its 2018 announcement to invest and break ground in Ann Arbor, KLA opens its new campus with a locally-based leadership team and more than 300 employees, with plans for an additional 300 hires over the next 12 to 18 months.

In a video, Aki Fujimura, CEO of D2S, interviews Naoya Hayashi of DNP on his impressions of the SPIE Photomask Technology conference, as well as his insights into key mask-making trends.

Axcelis has announced the introduction of the GSD Ovation high-current and high-energy batch implanters. The new GSD Ovation systems are designed to support the growing 200mm new fab construction and expansion activities.

Onto Innovation has reported its results for the quarter. Third quarter revenue totaled $200.6 million, an increase of 4% compared with $193.4 million for the second quarter of 2021 and above the high-end of guidance. Sales were up 59% year-over-year. “With several of our advanced nodes and specialty customers announcing expansions for next year and a record backlog that is more than twice the backlog at this time last year, we are optimistic that demand for Onto Innovation’s solutions will remain strong going into 2022,” said Michael Plisinski, chief executive at Onto Innovation.

Bruker’s revenues for the third quarter of 2021 were $608.9 million, an increase of 19.1% compared to revenues of $511.4 million in the third quarter of 2020. In the third quarter of 2021, Bruker continued to see demand for its products and solutions across various segments.

PDF Solutions announced that Ye Jane Li has joined the company’s board. Li currently serves as a strategic advisor for Diversis Capital. She also serves on the boards of directors at several public and private companies.

CyberOptics has received two awards in the categories of inspection for its SQ3000+ Multi-Function system and metrology for its WX3000 Metrology and Inspection System.

Materials
DuPont has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Rogers for $5.2 billion. Rogers is a supplier of engineered materials and components. DuPont also intends to divest a substantial portion of its Mobility & Materials segment.

OEMs
IBM has introduced a new metric to help measure technical progress toward “quantum advantage” — the point where quantum plus classical computer systems can perform better than classical systems alone. The new metric measures quantum processing speed or CLOPS (Circuit Layer Operations Per Second). CLOPS correlates with how fast a quantum processor can execute circuits.

Here’s the latest from Reuters: “Japan’s Toyota Motor raised its profit outlook helped by favorable currency rates but warned that the global semiconductor shortage still posed risks to its full-year production plans.”

Market research
The DRAM market is expected to shift from a shortage situation to an oversupply in 2022, according to TrendForce. NAND flash prices will likely experience a downward trend next year as a result of an oversupply situation.

Worldwide silicon wafer shipments increased 3.3% to 3,649 million square inches in the third quarter of 2021, compared to the previous quarter, a new industry record, according to the SEMI Silicon Manufacturers Group (SMG).

The Dell’Oro Group projects that spending on accelerated compute servers targeted for AI workloads will reach double-digit growth over the next five years, outpacing other data center infrastructure.

The University of Catania and STMicroelectronics announced the signing of a framework agreement on education and research activities in power electronics. The collaboration aims to foster academic and professional training of students in power electronics.

TechInsights has acquired The Linley Group, a market research firm. The Linley Group provides hardware architecture analysis and commentary on various subjects. The Linley Group has been publishing the Microprocessor Report for more than 30 years. Last August, TechInsights, a provider of advanced technology analysis and intellectual property services, acquired VLSI Research, a market research firm.



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