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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

ASML factory fire; new SSD player; chiplet consortium; forecasts.

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Fab tools
A fire broke out this week within ASML’s factory in Berlin, Germany. The fire was quickly extinguished and no one was injured during this incident. The factory manufactures components for ASML’s lithography systems, including wafer tables and clamps, reticle chucks and mirror blocks.

The fire took place on Jan. 3. On Jan. 7, ASML provided an update. “The manufacturing of DUV components has been restarted. Although there was some disruption regarding components for DUV, we expect to remediate this in such a way that it will not affect our output and revenue plan for DUV,” according to ASML. “As to EUV, the fire affected part of the production area of the wafer clamp, a module in our EUV systems. We are still in the process of completing the recovery plan for this production area and determining how to minimize any potential impact for our EUV customers, both in our output plan and in our field service.”

Nonetheless, the incident could impact shipments of ASML’s extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography scanners to Samsung, TSMC and others. “The lead time on ASML EUV equipment is approximately 12 to 18 months,” according to TrendForce, a market research firm. “It cannot be ruled out that ASML will obtain necessary components from other factory campuses. In addition, the current lead time for EUV equipment is quite long. Therefore, the actual impact on EUV supply remains to be seen.”

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Park Systems has rolled out the Park NX-Hybrid WLI, a metrology system that combines an atomic force microscope (AFM) with white light interferometer (WLI) profilometry. AFM uses a tiny tip to measure structures. WLI is a non-destructive optical technique used to generate 2D and 3D models of surfaces. The combined AFM/WLI system provides high-throughput imaging over large areas with the WLI module, and nanoscale metrology with sub-angstrom height resolution over the areas of interest using AFM. Defects of a patterned structure can be detected by comparing images of reference and target sample areas using high-speed hot spot detection.

Intevac, a supplier of thin-film processing systems, has sold its photonics business to EOTECH, a privately-held optical technology company. The deal is valued at up to $100 million.

CyberOptics has appointed Cordell Hardy to its board. Michael Selzer has informed the company’s board of his decision not to stand for re-election as a director. Hardy has been employed by 3M since 2003, most recently as senior vice president of corporate R&D operations.

Chipmakers
Intel has completed the first closing of the sale of its NAND and solid-state drive (SSD) business to SK Hynix. The deal, announced last year, was valued at $7 billion. The SSD business will transition to a newly formed company, Solidigm, a subsidiary of SK Hynix. Solidigm has named Rob Crooke as CEO. Crooke was previously senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group. Solidigm will have its headquarters in San Jose, Calif.

Samsung announced its earnings guidance for the fourth quarter of 2021. Meanwhile, the Chinese city of Xi’an has been placed under lockdown due to a Covid-19 outbreak. Samsung operates two NAND fabs in Xi’an. “Samsung’s two major NAND Flash fabs in Xi’an are still manufacturing without experiencing significant disruptions at this moment,” according to TrendForce. “However, with the local authority enforcing even stricter restrictions on the movements of people, Samsung has been compelled to perform some temporary operational adjustments to the two fabs.”

Meanwhile, Micron has a DRAM assembly and test operation in Xi’an. “The city’s closure has reduced Micron’s team member and contractor workforce at our Xi’an site, resulting in some impact to output levels of our DRAM assembly and test operations there,” according to Micron.

UMC has been awarded Taiwan Intellectual Property Management System (TIPS) certification, highlighting the company’s continuous commitment to strengthening its IP management system and corporate governance.

GlobalFoundries (GF) has amended its wafer supply agreement with AMD. GF will increase its supply of chips to AMD. AMD will extend the terms of the agreement to secure supply through 2025. With this agreement, AMD now expects to purchase approximately $2.1 billion of wafers from GF between 2022 and 2025.

Navitas Semiconductor, a supplier of gallium nitride (GaN) power devices, has announced the opening of a new electric vehicle (EV) design center. The new Design Center is based in Shanghai. EV customers will be supported worldwide by the new team, from concept to prototype, through to full qualification and mass production.

At the CES 2022 trade show, Omnivison introduced the world’s smallest 200-megapixel (MP) image sensor with a pixel size at just 0.61µm for smartphone cameras. The 16-cell binning of the OVB0B delivers video and preview quality in a 12.5MP mode, especially in low light. The OVB0B is the first 200MP product to offer 100% quad phase detection (QPD) technology.

Omnivision also rolled out its latest Nyxel near-infrared (NIR) product line. The new OX05B1S is the automotive industry’s first 5MP RGB-IR BSI global shutter sensor for in-cabin driver monitoring systems (DMS). With a pixel size of 2.2µm, it offers 940nm NIR sensitivity in low light conditions. It has a wide field of view and enough pixels to view both the driver and occupants. It is the first RGB-IR sensor for in-cabin monitoring to feature integrated cybersecurity.

Packaging
Taiwan has established the Heterogeneous Integration Chip-let System Package Alliance (Hi-CHIP). This alliance will help create an ecosystem covering package design, testing and verification, and pilot production. Hi-CHIP is backed by ITRI with support from Taiwan’s Department of Industrial Technology and the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).

Samsung Electro-Mechanics has sold its wireless module business unit to Korea’s Hanwha Solutions. The unit manufactures Wi-Fi and 5G mmWave antenna modules using organic substrates. The deal is expected to close by March of 2022.

JCET has donated RMB 3 million to the China Education Development Foundation to support the education of Pingwu County in Sichuan Province.

Element Solutions, a supplier of specialty chemicals for packaging and other markets, recently detected a cyber intrusion on certain of the company’s information technology systems. “Upon detection of the incident, the company promptly took action to contain it and implement business continuity and data recovery protocols,” according to the company.

Market research
2021 was a big year in the semiconductor market. In 2021, the semiconductor market reached $552.5 billion, up 23.85% over 2020, according to IBS.

In 2022, the semiconductor market is projected to reach $617.1 billion, up 11.69% over 2021, according to IBS. The semiconductor market is expected to grow by 8.34% in 2023, according to the firm.

According to Handel Jones, CEO of IBS, the main chip drivers for 2022 include 5G smartphones, automotive (ADAS and electrification), communications (400Gbps Ethernet), data centers and wearables. In 2022, the weak markets include mainstream laptops and TVs. “Gaming and high-end laptops for work are very strong,” Jones said.

Here’s the latest forecast from IC Insights: “Total semiconductor sales in 2022 are forecast to grow 11% and reach a record-high $680.6 billion after worldwide revenues climbed 25% in the 2021 economic rebound from the 2020 outbreak of the Covid-19 virus crisis.”

Here’s the fab equipment forecast from VLSI Research: “Fueled by soaring demand, the semiconductor equipment market is on track to increase 35% in 2021, hitting an all-time high of $125 billion. Last year’s growth would have been much higher had it not been for the supply chain constraints, which hindered some equipment deliveries. This unmet demand has been pushed into 2022 and will be a tailwind for the equipment market this year. That, combined with strong market demand, increasing localization, and government support is expected to propel the equipment market to $150 billion in 2022, up 22% from the previous year.”

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SEMI has rescheduled the Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) 2022 from Jan. 9-12 to April 3-6 due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the United States. The event will be held at the original venue, The Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, Calif.



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