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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Quebec hi-tech hub; scrapped wafer merger; talent gap; Wi-Fi trends.

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Government policy
The Government of Quebec and IBM have announced a new partnership to establish Quebec as a technology hub in the development of quantum computing, artificial intelligence, semiconductors and high-performance computing. The two entities have formed the Quebec-IBM Discovery Accelerator. The new technology hub aims to focus on developing new projects, collaborations, and skills-building initiatives in crucial areas of research such as energy, life sciences, and sustainability.

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Top national security leaders sent a letter to congressional leadership, encouraging them to pass the CHIPS for America Act. The bill, which is still stuck in Congress, provides $52 billion in funding for U.S. semiconductor research and manufacturing. “SIA joins defense and intelligence leaders in urging Congress to swiftly pass legislation investing in domestic chip manufacturing and research and send to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Doing so will fuel American leadership in the critical, chip-enabled technologies underpinning U.S. national security,” said John Neuffer, president and CEO of the U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).

There’s just one problem in the U.S.—too much red tape. U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, urged Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to help cut unnecessary regulatory red tape that is limiting American manufacturing of key technologies impacting national security. Hagerty discussed his legislation to add semiconductors and other advanced technologies to the sectors eligible to utilize the FAST-41 improved federal permitting program. “When I learned about the chip manufacturing shortage, I actually called the leaders of chip manufacturers around the world. When I asked them what stands in the way of manufacturing here in the United States, one of the greatest obstacles is the timeline for permitting here in America,” Hagerty noted.

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Separately, Hagerty and Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce, urging it to halt China’s efforts to circumvent export controls and use American chip technology for military purposes. The idea is to close the reported loophole that allows companies to continue to export U.S. technologies to SMIC, China’s largest foundry vendor.

Fab tools and materials
In a major blow, GlobalWafers’ move to acquire Siltronic will not happen after all. Not long ago, Taiwanese silicon wafer maker GlobalWafers attempted to acquire Siltronic from Germany’s Wacker. The move would have propelled GlobalWafers’ position in the silicon wafer market. However, Germany’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action did not issue the foreign trade clearance required for the merger of Siltronic with GlobalWafers. The ministry did not provide the clearance required to close the transaction by the deadline of Jan. 31, 2022. As a result, the planned merger will not materialize. Here’s the reaction of GlobalWafers.

ATE giant Advantest posted its results for the quarter. Sales were up quarter-over-quarter. The logic tester business was up 40%, while memory tester sales held steady.

Kulicke & Soffa (K&S) is expanding its thermal compression bonding (TCB) capabilities to accelerate the integration of semiconductors with silicon photonics.

TEL has announced that its Chairman, Tetsuo Tsuneishi, received the 2021 SEMI Sales and Marketing Excellence Award, an honor inspired by Bob Graham and administered by SEMI. The SEMI Sales and Marketing Excellence Award commemorates the late Bob Graham who was a member of the founding team of Intel.

Brewer Science has been awarded the 2022 Top Workplaces USA Award. The award was issued by Energage, an organization that develops solutions to build and brand top workplaces. The Top Workplaces program has a 15-year history of surveying more than 20 million employees and recognizing the top organizations across 60 markets.

Chipmakers and OEMs
Toshiba has announced that it will construct a new 300mm wafer fabrication facility for power semiconductors at its main discrete semiconductor production base, Kaga Toshiba Electronics Corporation, in Ishikawa Prefecture

STMicroelectronics recently posted its results. For 2022, the company plans to invest from $3.4 billion to $3.6 billion in capital spending, including its new 300mm wafer fab in Agrate, Italy.

ICT International has integrated Semtech’s LoRa chips into its water quality monitoring systems and sensors for aquaculture applications. ICT International’s sensors form a part of the Estuary Sensor Platform, a tool built for oyster farmers as part of New South Wales Department of Primary Industries $6.7 million AUD Climate Smart Pilots project. These devices enable a wide area network, allowing it to transmit measured data which includes temperature, water level/tide, water salinity, and more data to oyster farmers in near real-time.

AMD has posted sales of $4.8 billion for the quarter, up 49% year-over-year and 12% quarter-over-quarter. The company’s growth was driven by higher revenue in the computing and graphics segments.

Ford has posted solid fourth-quarter and full-year operating results for 2021 despite persistent chip shortages. Customers made Ford the No. 2 seller of electric vehicles in the U.S. in 2021. Customers ordered or reserved more than 275,000 all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUVs, F-150 Lightning pickups and E-Transit commercial vehicles. The company will double worldwide EV manufacturing capacity to at least 600,000 by 2023.

Education
SEMI has teamed up the American Semiconductor Academy (ASA) Initiative, a national education network of faculty at universities and colleges across the U.S. The goal is to build a workforce development program designed to close the talent gap in the semiconductor and equipment markets.

Market research
As reported, Intel will invest more than $20 billion to build two new fabs in Ohio. Samsung and TI have also announced new fabs. An analyst with Gartner explains what this all means.

According to a recently published report by Dell’Oro Group, supply constraints will be a “pin in the balloon” for Wi-Fi 6E, as Wi-Fi 7 Enterprise class wireless LAN becomes available in 2023. “Although manufacturers launched Wi-Fi 6E products in mid-2021, products are either not available, or they are in very limited supply. Supply constraints have prompted manufacturers to focus on enabling the availability of popular models by re-designing these models with components that are more readily available,” said Tam Dell’Oro, CEO of the firm. “Our interviews with systems integrators reveal users are asking for Wi-Fi 6, not 6E. Therefore, if companies have to prioritize their production, Wi-Fi 6 will be the priority. Wi-Fi shipments in the second half of 2021 excluding China, were significantly limited because of supply constraints. Ecosystem players do not see constraints easing until the end of 2022. With Wi-Fi 7 products shipping as early as 2023, we predict users will bypass 6E.”

“Worldwide sales of optoelectronics, sensors and actuators, and discrete semiconductors (O-S-D) each climbed to record-high levels during the 2021 global economic rebound from the Covid-19 virus crisis and lockdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the deadly pandemic,” according to IC Insights. “IC Insights now forecasts that total O-S-D sales will increase 11% in 2022 to $115.5 billion with optoelectronics rising 13% to $54.2 billion, sensors/actuators expanding 15% to $24.3 billion, and the discretes segment easing back to more normal growth of 5% to $37.1 billion this year.”



2 comments

Allen Rasafar says:

Thank you for sharing this review. Where can i obtain a contact name for SEMI, to share a design platform next generation of Semiconductor manufacturing technology?

Mark D LaPedus says:

Hi Allen, Contact James Amano at SEMI. SEMI site:

https://www.semi.org/en

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