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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

AMD’s fan-out bridge GPUs; TSMC’s fabs; SMIC shakeup; GaN.

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Chipmakers
AMD has rolled out its new MI200 series products, the first exascale-class GPU accelerators. Using a fan-out bridge packaging technology, the MI200 series are designed for high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) applications.

The MI200 series accelerators feature a multi-die GPU architecture with 128GB of HBM2e memory. Typically, the HBM2e memory stack and other devices are stacked on an interposer. Instead, AMD is stacking the GPU and HBM2e on what it calls a “2.5D Elevated Fanout Bridge (EFB)” technology. This delivers 1.8X more cores and 2.7X higher memory bandwidth over its previous-generation GPUs.

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TSMC continues to expand its fab capacity. Its board approved a capital budget of $9.04 billion, which will be used to build a fab for 7nm and 28nm processes, according to a report from the Taipei Times. The fab, to be located in Kaohsiung, will move into production in 2024.

As expected, TSMC and Sony announced their fab venture in Japan. TSMC will establish a subsidiary, Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing (JASM), to provide foundry services at 28nm/22nm. Construction of JASM’s fab in Japan is scheduled to begin in 2022 with production targeted by the end of 2024. The initial capital expenditure is estimated to be approximately $7 billion with support from the Japanese government.

SMIC posted its results. There was also a board shakeup at the foundry vendor. Chiang Shang-Yi, a former TSMC technologist, has resigned as vice chairman of SMIC’s board. Liang Mong Song, an executive director and the co-CEO, has resigned as an executive director. Liang will continue to serve as co-CEO. Zhou Jie has resigned as a non-executive director. Young Kwang Lee has resigned as an independent non-executive director. Here’s one report on the matter.

Tower’s revenues for the third quarter of 2021 were $387 million, the highest quarterly revenue in the company’s history, as compared to $310 million in the third quarter of 2020, reflecting 25% year-over-year growth.

Cerebras has raised $250 million in a Series F financing round, valuing the company at over $4 billion. To date, the AI wafer-level company has raised $720 million.

Transphorm, a supplier of gallium nitride (GaN) power semis, has closed an equity financing deal of $23 million through a private placement of 4,600,000 shares to KKR and U.S institutional investors. Separately, Transphorm and Sino-American Silicon (SAS) have announced a partnership. SAS has made a $15 million equity investment in Transphorm. SAS is the parent company of Taiwan’s GlobalWafers, a silicon wafer maker. GlobalWafers will also make Transphorm’s GaN epiwafers, a move that will augment its internal capacity.

Ambarella has completed its previously announced transaction to acquire Oculii. Oculii’s adaptive AI software algorithms are designed to enable radar perception using current radar chips to achieve higher resolution, longer range and greater accuracy.

Fab tools
Moov, which provides a marketplace for used manufacturing equipment, has announced the close of a $41 million Series A funding round led by Tiger Global. Other investors participated in the funding.

In a video, Tom Cecil of Synopsys, Mikael Wahlsten of Mycronic, and Chris Progler of Photronics discuss the 2021 eBeam Initiative Luminaries survey results on mask revenue growth with Aki Fujimura, CEO of D2S.

Test, data analytics
Advantest has launched its new Link Scale family of digital channel cards for the V93000 platform, enabling software-based functional testing and USB/PCI Express (PCIe) SCAN testing of advanced semiconductors. The new cards address testing challenges that require these interfaces to run in full protocol mode, adding system-like test capabilities to the V93000.

PDF Solutions’ revenues for the third quarter of 2021 were $29.6 million, compared to $27.4 million for the second quarter of 2021 and $23.1 million for the third quarter of 2020. Analytics revenue for the third quarter of 2021 was $27.2 million, compared to $19.6 million for the second quarter of 2021 and $14.3 million for the third quarter of 2020. Integrated Yield Ramp revenue for the third quarter of 2021 was $2.4 million, compared to $7.8 million for second quarter of 2021 and $8.8 million for the third quarter of 2020.

Government policy
Hoping to resolve the ongoing worldwide chip shortage situation, the U.S. Department of Commerce last month launched a “request for information (RFI)” initiative, which involved sending questionnaires to various semiconductor companies. The U.S. government is asking all parts of the supply chain – producers, consumers, and intermediaries – to voluntarily share information about inventories, demand, and delivery dynamics. The goal of the RFI is to understand and quantify where bottlenecks may exist in the semiconductor supply chain.

According to a report from the Taipei Times, TSMC, Micron, Western Digital, UMC and others have submitted data to the U.S. government. The outcome remains unclear.

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MITRE Engenuity and its industry working group, The Semiconductor Alliance, have published a white paper summarizing the need for a new National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) in the U.S. The Semiconductor Alliance, led by MITRE, is comprised of individual experts from all facets of the U.S. semiconductor ecosystem.

The NSTC is still on the drawing board and requires funding from the government. If it ever appears, the organization would conduct R&D in semiconductor technology. It would serve as a prototyping facility for chip technology. The cost for this facility is roughly $10.5 billion. “We must ensure that American innovation leads to American growth,” said Edlyn Levine, chief technologist at MITRE. “The United States needs to lead in next-generation information technologies by embracing a bold technology portfolio to drive revolutionary rather than evolutionary breakthroughs and to build the capabilities to ensure that what we invent here can be produced here and not offshored.”

Market research
According to IDC, 80.8 million smartphones were shipped in China in the third quarter of 2021, down 4.7% year-on-year. “The decline was the result of higher average selling prices and a continued lack of products that dramatically stimulated demand. Nevertheless, the top five smartphone companies all managed to achieve double-digit share amid a consolidating market,” according to IDC.

DSCC has increased its 2020 to 2025 display equipment spending forecast, helped by rising OLED spending.



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