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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Chiplet consortium; 3D XPoint woes; eBeam; 2nm wars.

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Packaging
ASE, AMD, Arm, Google, Intel, Meta, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Samsung, and TSMC have announced the formation of a consortium that will establish a die-to-die interconnect standard and foster an open chiplet ecosystem.

The founding companies also ratified the UCIe specification, an open industry standard developed to establish a standard interconnect at the package level. The UCIe 1.0 specification covers the die-to-die I/O physical layer, die-to-die protocols, and software stack. The technology will leverage the PCI Express (PCIe) and Compute Express Link (CXL) industry standards. The specification will be available to UCIe members and available to download on the website.

Upon incorporation of the new UCIe industry organization later this year, member companies will begin work on the next-generation UCIe technology, including defining the chiplet form factor, management, enhanced security, and other protocols. It’s an open standard. The group is open to new members.

Chipmakers, OEMs
Rumors continue to swirl about the fate of Intel’s 3D XPoint, a next-generation memory technology based on phase-change memory. Intel refers to this technology as Optane. Intel makes Optane in F11X, a fab in New Mexico. Intel has pulled out several tools out of the fab; some engineers are still left with Optane, according to sources in the equipment business. Other sources believe Intel has pulled the plug on Optane. Intel is still looking for a buyer, but has failed to find one–yet.

Kioxia disclosed that in late January, contamination of the material used in its manufacturing processes is suspected to have occurred at its fabs in Japan. The problem impacted its production of 3D NAND. This week, Kioxia said it has implemented the necessary measures to resolve the production issues. The company’s Yokkaichi and Kitakami flash memory manufacturing plants were restored to normal operations as of late February.

On Semiconductor is implementing what it calls a “fab-liter” manufacturing strategy in an effort to cut costs. As part of the move, the company has sold its fabs in South Portland, Maine and Oudenaarde, Belgium. Diodes has acquired On Semi’s Maine fab. Diodes plans to expand its 200mm wafer fab capacity in support of its analog product growth. On Semi also completed the sale of its Belgium fab to BelGaN. BelGaN plans to become a gallium-nitride (GaN) foundry.

Everspin, a supplier of MRAMs, has announced the appointment of Sanjeev Aggarwal as its president and CEO, effective March 14. Darin Billerbeck, Everspin’s executive chairman and interim CEO, will resign as interim CEO and will continue to serve as executive chairman. Aggarwal currently serves as Everspin’s CTO and vice president of operations & technology.

Taiwan this week suffered a major power outage, which impacted 5.49 million households as well as some electronics companies, according to the Taipei Times.

Toyota’s Russian unit has halted car production at its St-Petersburg plant, and has stopped imports of vehicles. VW and other car makers are following suit.

Fab tools
Edwards, a supplier of vacuum and abatement services, has announced its investment in a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Chandler, Ariz. The Chandler facility will consist of warehousing facilities, factory areas and office space. The new facility will create approximately 200 new jobs. Construction of the new site in Chandler is underway.

The eBeam Initiative’s 14th annual meeting was held this week. Here’s a video of the presentation. The eBeam Initiative has also announced the addition of three new company members to the organization–ESOL, Fractilia and HJL Lithography. In addition, the eBeam Initiative has published its second annual Deep Learning (DL) survey of its members’ products and applications using DL in the photomask-to-wafer manufacturing flow.

Government policy
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded $54 million in grants for 13 projects for R&D. The funding, which was provided by the American Rescue Act, will support projects at eight manufacturing innovation institutes in the Manufacturing USA network. These projects include:
*PowerAmerica. Next-generation power semiconductors.
*AIM Photonics. Point-of-care sensors using integrated photonics.
*Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute (ARM). Creating a robotics framework.

Market research
As reported, Samsung is expected to ship the world’s first gate-all-around (GAA) transistors in 2022. Samsung’s GAA will appear at the 3nm node. Both Intel and TSMC will extend today’s finFETs at 3nm, and then move to GAA at the 2nm node.

So how will things stack up at the 2nm node? “TSMC’s 2nm GAA is slated for 2025. Samsung will also have a 2nm GAA in 2025. The target for Intel is to have 2nm GAA in 2025,” said Handel Jones, CEO of IBS. “There is room for two vendors. But is there enough room for three?”

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SEMI has released the results of a survey of more than 400 U.S. member companies that highlight challenges facing the semiconductor industry. The survey provides recommendations for the semiconductor industry.

Over half of chief human resources officers reported the shortage of critical talent as the No.1 trend impacting organizations, according to Gartner. A survey of 572 organizations found that 48% of respondents had significant concerns about mass turnover events, particularly as vaccine mandates and on-site work policies evolve. “While organizations are competing with peers for talent, they are also contending with changing employee lifestyle preferences and ambitions,” said Piers Hudson, senior director in the Gartner HR practice. “Our research revealed 65% of employees report that the pandemic has made them rethink the role of work in their lives.”



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