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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Semicon news; etch; analytics; Unigroup saga; packaging consortium.

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Semicon West news
The Semicon West trade show opened this week with a hybrid in-person and virtual event. Several companies introduced new products or made announcements at Semicon. Some announcements coincided with the show.

At Semicon, Lam Research introduced the Syndion GP, a new product that provides deep silicon etch capabilities to chipmakers developing next-generation power devices and power management integrated circuits. Applications include the automotive, electric power delivery and energy industries.

Then, TEL rolled out the Impressio 2400 PICP Pro, a plasma etch system for processing eighth-generation glass substrates. The manufacture of G8 displays—which are mainly used for large TVs and IT products—requires a uniform etch process. As high-resolution, enhanced displays including OLEDs are becoming increasing larger in size, equipment for manufacturing those displays needs to control particles and other process conditions more strictly than before.

At Semicon EMD Electronics, the North American Electronics business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, announced $1 billion in investments in the U.S. through 2025. Separately, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and Palantir Technologies announced a new partnership to deliver a secure collaborative data analytics platform for the semiconductor industry. The so-called Athinia platform will leverage AI and big data to solve critical challenges such as chip shortages, improve quality and supply chain transparency, and time to market.

Siemens Digital Industries Software has announced a new collaboration with PDF Solutions. Under the plan, the companies will develop a solution that transforms integrated circuit test and yield analysis data from Siemens’ Tessent software into actionable intelligence. The new co-developed products will work together to deliver a solution that aggregates and analyzes design-based, yield-relevant data from Siemens’ Tessent software.

Data analytics specialist proteanTecs has expanded its penetration into the mobile and consumer electronics spaces. The company has also named Peter Szalay as vice president and general manager of North America sales. Nitza Basoco has been named vice president of business development.

Entegris has increased the total investment in its new manufacturing facility in Taiwan to approximately $500 million over the next three years. Located in the Kaohsiung Science Park, Entegris’ new facility will total 600,000 square feet, up from the originally planned size of 300,000 square feet. Entegris expects to hire approximately 100 new employees in 2022. Entegris’ microcontamination control business will be the first group in the facility. In the facility, customer qualifications are expected to take place toward the end of 2022 or early 2023.

Onto Innovation has announced $85 million in orders from a 3D NAND manufacturer for its integrated optical CD (OCD) and thin film metrology suite. Deliveries will begin in 2022 and into the first half of 2023. Orders for Onto’s products comprise a metrology suite earning a “tool of record” status.

Chipmakers
China’s Tsinghua Unigroup is in trouble. The group is the parent company of China’s YMTC, a 3D NAND supplier, and other chip ventures. It is close to moving into bankruptcy proceedings. Recently, a consortium led by Alibaba has emerged as the frontrunner to take over Tsinghua Unigroup, according to a report from Bloomberg.

That fell apart. Here’s the latest from Reuters: “A consortium led by Beijing Jianguang Asset Management and Wise Road Capital will become a strategic investor in Chinese chip conglomerate Tsinghua Unigroup.

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Hit hard by chip shortages, automotive makers are forging closer ties to semiconductor makers. To secure semiconductor supplies for the long term, the BMW Group has concluded a direct supply assurance agreement with INOVA Semiconductors and GlobalFoundries. The agreement guarantees BMW the supply of several million chips per year. Recently, Ford and GlobalFoundries forged a similar deal. And GM is working with various chip suppliers.

Stellantis and Hon Hai Technology Group, better known as Foxconn, have signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to create a partnership with the intent to design a family of purpose-built semiconductors to support Stellantis and third-party customers.

STMicroelectronics is introducing its third generation of silicon-carbide (SiC) MOSFETs. The devices are aimed for electric-vehicle (EV) powertrains and other applications, where power density, energy efficiency, and reliability are key.

Intel plans to take its Mobileye unit public in the United States in mid-2022 via an initial public offering (IPO). Separately, Intel recently opened the Intel Research Center for Integrated Photonics for Data Center Interconnects. The center’s mission is to accelerate the development of photonics technology, devices, package integration and fiber coupling.

Samsung has reorganized its operations. As part of the move, Jong-Hee Han was promoted to vice chairman and CEO, and will lead the newly merged SET Division. President Kyehyun Kyung was also named CEO and will lead the DS Division.

Packaging
Showa Denko Materials has announced the establishment of a new packaging consortium in Japan. The group, called the JOINT2 (Jisso Open Innovation Network of Tops 2), is comprised of 12 companies. In this group, vendors are developing semiconductor packaging materials, substrates, and equipment. As part of the effort, DNP has developed an interposer for next-generation semiconductor packaging.

Meanwhile, Showa Denko Materials recently announced a move to raise its prices for epoxy molding compounds for semiconductors.

Government policy
The U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) has submitted comments to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) urging the elimination of semiconductor tariffs. “As SIA explained in the submission, Section 301 tariffs on semiconductors and associated products are contributing to the current global chip shortage, leading to higher prices, and worsening damage to U.S. consumers and manufacturers of autos, appliances, medical equipment, and other U.S. industrial and technology products,” according to the SIA.

Canada’s ventureLAB has announced new partners for its Hardware Catalyst Initiative. The group is Canada’s only lab and incubator for hardware and semiconductor companies. It is funded in part by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) in South Korea is seeking partnerships between Korean and leading players in the U.S. ETRI plans to hold an event in California.

Market research
By 2025, chip shortages and trends such as electrification and autonomy will drive 50% of the top 10 automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to design their own chips, according to Gartner. “Automotive semiconductor supply chains are complex,” said Gaurav Gupta, research vice president at Gartner. “In most cases, chip makers are traditionally Tier 3 or Tier 4 suppliers to automakers, which means it usually takes a while until they adapt to the changes affecting automotive market demand. This lack of visibility in the supply chain has increased automotive OEMs desire to have greater control over their semiconductor supply.”

Global shipments of traditional PCs are forecast to reach 344.7 million units in 2021, according to IDC. “While annual shipments are expected to grow 13.5% during the year, shipments during the holiday quarter are expected to decline 3.4% as supply chain constraints and backups and cost increases around logistics continue to be a burden on getting products into many channels,” according to IDC. “Tablets face a similar trend with annual shipments in 2021 growing 4.3% while fourth quarter shipments are expected to decline 8.6%.”



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