Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Trade issues; testing STT-MRAM; silicon wafer shipments.


SEMI has voiced support and encouragement for trade discussions between U.S. President Donald Trump and the People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping. The talks are planned for Dec. 1 during the G20 Summit in Argentina.

SEMI expressed hope for a deal and offered principles beneficial to the microelectronics supply chain. Recent tariffs and trade tensions, on top of rumored export controls, have complicated the electronics manufacturing supply chain, forcing many SEMI member companies to rethink their investment strategies. Over the past six months, SEMI has testified that tariffs threaten to undercut the ability of many SEMI members to sell overseas by increasing costs, stifling innovation, and curbing U.S. technological leadership.

SEMI continues to push for fair trade. The trade group is pushing for a new initiative for various governments. The effort is called “10 Principles for the Global Semiconductor Supply Chain in Modern Trade Agreements.” “With SEMI members being key enablers of the more than $2 trillion electronics manufacturing supply chain, SEMI has a clear foundational mission based on free and fair trade, open markets, and support for international laws governing IP, cybersecurity and national security,” said Ajit Manocha, SEMI president and CEO. “Adhering to these principles benefits all SEMI member companies and the global ecosystem of industries and applications enabled by semiconductor manufacturing. I commend our global government leaders for returning to the negotiating table.”


Although trade tensions have flared between the U.S. and China in recent months, 58% of U.S. businesses that export to China say they are likely to expand their businesses there in the next three to five years, according to a new survey from HSBC.

China is also projected to be the most important market for future sales for two-fifths (40%) of U.S. businesses, according to the survey. Regarding future growth, nearly 61% of U.S. firms believe that Chinese consumers under 30 years old are going to be the most influential in driving growth for their business in China, according to the survey. This compares to 32% of U.S. firms who believe the same for Chinese consumers born in the 1980s, 1970s and 1960s. “U.S. businesses recognize that younger Chinese consumers are an important part of their future growth,” said Jaron Campbell, US Head of International Subsidiary Banking at HSBC Commercial Banking. “As China’s economy continues to evolve, U.S. companies are taking steps to ensure that they are able to capitalize on the rising importance of this demographic.”

Ayar Labs has raised $24 million in Series A funding to commercialize its high-speed connectivity solution. The company’s optical chiplet will be integrated in the existing multi-chip-module ecosystem, enabling high-bandwidth, low-latency, low-power optical communications directly from partner chips. The company obtained funding from Playground Global, Founders Fund, GlobalFoundries and Intel Capital.

II-VI and Finisar have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which II-VI will acquire Finisar in a cash and stock transaction with an equity value of approximately $3.2 billion.

According to Reuters, Xilinx has hired Barclays to advise on a bid to buy Mellanox Technologies.

Esperanto Technologies has closed its Series B funding round of $58 million. This Series B round brings the total investment in Esperanto to $63 million. This investment will accelerate Esperanto’s AI/machine learning product development and its first-generation 7nm chip solutions. Esperanto was founded by Dave Ditzel.

Everspin has entered into a partnership with Malaysian foundry vendor SilTerra. SilTerra will create more manufacturing capacity for Everspin’s toggle MRAM products. This partnership is part of a three-way agreement between Everspin, SilTerra and Bosch Sensortec, a licensee of Everspin’s sensor IP.

Fab tools and test
Orbotech, which is in the process of being acquired by KLA-Tencor, reported its financial results for the third quarter of 2018. Revenues for the third quarter totaled $261.2 million, compared with $245.7 million in the third quarter of 2017, and $267.5 million in the second quarter of 2018.

PDF Solutions, a provider of process-design integration technologies to enhance integrated circuit (IC) manufacturability, reported its financial results for its third fiscal quarter ended Sept. 30, 2018.

Entegris has announced the opening of its expanded manufacturing facility in Kulim, Malaysia. With a $30 million investment, Entegris has increased the manufacturing capacity of the Kulim facility by 30%.

Advantest has announced a collaboration with Tohoku University. The two groups have developed a module that can measure the switching currents in the memory arrays of spin-transfer torque magnetic random access memory (STT-MRAM). The module is part of Advantest’s memory test system.

Astronics has reported its financial results. In the test segment, sales in the first nine months of 2018 increased 72% to $100 million compared with sales of $58.1 million for the same period in 2017. The growth was driven by a $53.7 million increase in sales to the semiconductor market.

Market research
Worldwide silicon wafer area shipments increased during the third quarter 2018, surpassing record second quarter 2018 area shipments to set another all-time high, according to the SEMI Silicon Manufacturers Group (SMG).

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