Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

UMC’s 22nm fab; more fabs; flexible chips; Russia sanctions.


Chipmakers, OEMs
UMC plans to build a new fab next to its existing 300mm fab in Singapore. The new fab, called Fab12i P3, will manufacture wafers based on UMC’s 22nm/28nm processes. The planned investment for this project will be $5 billion. The first phase of this greenfield fab will have a monthly capacity of 30,000 wafers with production expected to commence in late 2024.

To account for the Fab12i expansion, the company’s 2022 capex budget will be revised upward from $3 billion to $3.6 billion. Last year, UMC also announced plans to expand capacity at its 300mm Fab 12A Phase 6 (P6) in Taiwan’s Tainan Science Park. Separately, UMC announced that its 200mm wafer fab subsidiary, HeJian Technology (Suzhou) Co., has resumed production. HeJian suspended production on Feb. 14 after an employee contracted COVID-19. Since then, employees have undergone multiple PCR tests and all results were negative. The company resumed production immediately.


Bosch plans to expand its 150mm/200mm wafer fab facility in Reutlingen, Germany. Bosch will invest over 250 million euros to expand the facility. The construction of a new extension in Reutlingen will create an additional 3,600-square-meters of clean room space. The new production area is scheduled to go into operation in 2025. The new investment comes on top of 400 million euros of capital expenditure already earmarked for expansion of global semiconductor production in 2022. Bosch also has a 300mm fab in Dresden. In its fabs, Bosch makes ASICs, MEMS and other products.

SilTerra, Malaysia’s largest wafer foundry, is investing RM645 million on an expansion plan that will increase its annual capacity by 20%. SilTerra has a 200mm facility. The additional capacity is expected to be ready for production by early 2023. SilTerra has also announced the availability of its new MEMS and photonics technology. Both are based on a Cavity Silicon-On-Insulator (C-SOI) technology. C-SOI wafers are designed for applications in piezosensor, micromirror, accelerometer, microphone, inertial MEMS, resonator and microfluidic devices.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has awarded a contract to Gilbane-Exyte Joint Venture to build the Compound Semiconductor Laboratory – Microsystem Integration Facility (CSL-MIF) at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. The $279 million building project, scheduled to begin this spring, is funded by the U.S. Air Force military construction (MILCON) program. USACE will manage the facility. Technologies of focus will include 3D-integrated focal plane arrays for scientific imaging and surveillance, integrated electro-optical systems for space-based optical communication, superconducting microsystems for integrating quantum information bits, and advanced 3D-lidar imaging systems. CSL-MIF is complementary to MIT’s existing Microelectronics Laboratory (ML), the U.S. government’s most advanced silicon-based research and advanced prototyping fabrication facility.

Mercedes-Benz Group posted mixed results for the quarter ended Dec. 31. The car giant expects that supply constraints related to semiconductors will continue to impact the market in 2022.

Stellantis posted record results for 2021. However, the company’s results were impacted by a 20% shortfall in planned production due to semiconductor shortages. Stellantis also unveiled electrification and software plans in the year, with planned investments of more than €30 billion through 2025. Stellantis is the merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the French PSA Group.

Fab tools, materials
In a blog, Tim Archer, president and chief executive at Lam Research, talks about the company’s new selective etch tools and why they are important.

At the 2022 International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), Imec, KU Leuven and PragmatIC Semiconductor presented a paper on a flexible 8-bit microprocessor. Imec has designed a flexible 8-bit microprocessor in a 0.8µm indium-gallium-zinc-oxide (IGZO)-transistor technology. The processor is capable of running real-time complex assembly code. To fabricate the flexible microprocessor, Imec teamed up with foundry partner PragmatIC, which offers a FlexIC Foundry technology.

NextFlex has launched a $11.5 million funding round for proposals in the flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) space. Areas of emphasis include FHE-enabled manufacturing for automotive applications, device fabrication, and packaging. NextFlex is a Department of Defense (DoD)-sponsored Manufacturing Innovation Institute funded by Air Force Research Laboratory.

The DoD has awarded a $35 million contract to MP Materials to design and build a facility to process heavy rare earth elements (HREE) at the company’s Mountain Pass, Calif.-based production site. This project will establish the first processing and separation facility of its kind for HREEs in support of both defense and commercial applications in the U.S. To date, the DoD has invested over $100 million in the U.S. rare earth supply chain to reduce its dependence on China in the arena.

Packaging, test
Xperi has launched a new brand for its IP licensing business. The brand is called Adeia. Meanwhile, Xperi has entered into a new multi-year IP agreement with Micron. Micron now has access to Adeia’s hybrid bonding IP to enhance next-generation memory devices.

LitePoint, a provider of wireless test solutions, has announced a technology development partnership with Sivers for its 5G millimeter wave (mmWave) Antenna in Package (AiP) products. LitePoint’s IQgig-5G non-signaling test solution provides Sivers with a turnkey solution to quickly get RF measurement results. LitePoint is a Teradyne company.

Kioxia has entered into a definitive agreement with Toshiba to acquire its subsidiary, Chubu Toshiba Engineering (CTE). CTE specializes in semiconductor hardware and software design, prototyping and evaluation.

Park Systems introduced a new metrology system that combines white light interferometer profilometry with an atomic force microscope. The system enables high-throughput imaging over large areas, and nanoscale metrology with sub-Å height resolution over an area of interest identified with the AFM. Defects then can be compared to reference and target sample areas using high-speed hot spot detection.

Government policy
The U.S. Commerce Department has responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by implementing a sweeping series of stringent export controls, which target Russia’s defense, aerospace, and maritime sectors. These items, many of which were not previously subject to controls, include semiconductors, computers, telecommunications, information security equipment, lasers, and sensors. Today’s rule also imposes stringent controls on 49 Russian military end users. The European Union (EU) and others have announced similar plans.

“We are still reviewing the new rules to determine their impact on our industry. While the impact of the new rules to Russia could be significant, Russia is not a significant direct consumer of semiconductors, accounting for less than 0.1% of global chip purchases, according to the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization. The broader Russian ICT market totaled only about $25 billion out of the multi-trillion global market, according to 2019 IDC data,” said John Neuffer, president and CEO of the U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). “In addition, the semiconductor industry has a diverse set of suppliers of key materials and gases, so we do not believe there are immediate supply disruption risks related to Russia and Ukraine.”

Russia’s move to attack Ukraine could impact several sectors, but much of this is still unclear. Ukraine is a major supplier of raw material gases for semiconductors, including neon, argon, krypton, and xenon, according to a report from TrendForce. These gases are used in lithography and other areas.

One chipmaker, Micron, has addressed this issue. “Micron has diversified sourcing for all of our noble gases, and our supply of neon is primarily sourced and originates from various suppliers across the European Union, United States and Asia,” according to the memory maker.

Market research
At the end of 2021, there were 153 semiconductor fabs processing 300mm wafers, according to Knometa Research. “There are 10 fabs scheduled to open in 2022, followed by another 13 in 2023 and 10 in 2024. This puts the industry on pace to have more than 200 300mm fab lines in operation by 2026,” said Trevor Yancey, president of Knometa.

The SIA has launched a new Semiconductor Unit Sales Dashboard to provide regularly updated, publicly available sales data for a range of semiconductor products. The Dashboard is based on World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) data. Additionally, the data is broken down by product category, including logic, analog, memory, discretes, sensors and actuators, MOS micro, and optoelectronics.

Shortages of various components for IC packaging will continue to persist. “The shortage of build-up substrates will be worse this year than in 2021, and the gap between supply and demand looms even larger in 2023,” according to TechSearch. “Many substrate makers are adding capacity, but it takes time because of long lead times for equipment and construction of new buildings.”

The Electronic Specialty Gas Conference will be held in person from Oct. 19-21. It will be held in Chandler, Ariz. Registration for the conference will be open on Linx Consulting’s website starting March 1. The conference provides a forum of engagement and learning around the consumption, technology trends, and drivers for electronic gases and vapor phase materials.

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