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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

$107B equipment milestone; chip CEOs testify; Intel’s latest investment; earthquake updates; Tesla’s GigaFactory; quantum computing leaps.

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Worldwide fab equipment spending for front-end manufacturing is expected to hit $107 billion this year, an 18% year-over-year increase, according to SEMI’s latest World Fab Forecast report.

“Crossing the $100 billion mark in spending on global fab equipment for the first time is a historic milestone for the semiconductor industry,” said Ajit Manocha, president and CEO of SEMI. Investments in new equipment are expected to continue into 2023, as well, with projections for next year again topping $100 billion.

The U.S. technology industry is riding a wave of government support and investment not seen in decades, fueled by supply chain shortages and geopolitical stresses. Lam Research president and CEO Tim Archer testified before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee about how to improve competitiveness in the U.S. chip industry. “The chip shortage we are experiencing highlights the complex and interdependent nature of the semiconductor ecosystem and the need for sustained investment by companies throughout the supply chain,” Archer said, pointing to the CHIPS Act and the Investment Tax Credit in the FABs act as positive steps in that direction. “We urge Congress to act quickly to pass these measures in support of the entire domestic ecosystem.”

Intel, which plans to invest tens of billions of dollars in new fabs and technology, also plans to invest $100 million over the next decade to establish education and research collaborations with colleges/universities and technical education facilities across the U.S. Ohio, the site of one of its major investments, will receive $50 million from Intel for higher education facilities there. In addition, Intel will spend another $50 million nationally, which in turn will be matched by another $50 million from the U.S. National Science Foundation.

NVIDIA released more detailed plans for the Arm Neoverse-based NVIDIA Grace CPU Superchip, based on next-gen Armv9 architecture.

AMD announced the availability of the AMD Instinct MI210 accelerator with expanded system partner support, offering “exascale-class technology to a broad base of HPC and AI customers, addressing the growing demand for compute-accelerated data center workloads and reducing the time to insights and discovery.”

Deals
Imec.xpand II announced the first closing of its second fund at €150 million in committed capital for early-stage funds dedicated to semiconductor innovation.

Bruker is collaborating with the Australian National Phenome Center, which broke ground this week on a new facility. The plan is to use nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to map the long-term risk of COVID.

Supply chain
Renesas issued an update on the recent Japanese earthquake’s impact. There are no reports of significant damage in any of its three factories close to the quake’s epicenter. The company expects to reach full pre-earthquake production capacity this week.

Advantest likewise reported no significant damage at its head office in Tokyo, its Gunma R&D Center, Saitama R&D Center, and Gunma Factory.

TEL, meanwhile, reported no damage or injuries as a result of the earthquake. The company said it is fully operational.

Materials
Tesla opened its GigaFactory in Berlin, Germany this week. The facility is expected eventually to ramp production to 500,000 vehicles annually. During the opening, CEO Elon Musk indicated Tesla was exploring use of more manganese in its battery cells.

Researchers from Ames Laboratory and Texas A&M University are using AI to evaluate the stability of rare-earth compounds. They have developed a machine learning model that “provides quantitative guidance for compositional considerations within a machine-learning model and discovering new metastable materials.”

Quantum computing
Israel built its first quantum computer. Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science, “succeeded in building a quantum computer – one of about 30 such machines in the world, and one of less than 10 to rely on an advanced technology known as ion traps.” An even larger computer is already in the works, and this one already has a name, the institute said.

Microsoft claims it has achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing, demonstrating “the elusive building blocks for a topological quantum bit, or qubit, which Microsoft has long pursued as the most promising path to developing a scalable quantum computer that will launch a new generation of as-yet-unimagined computing capabilities for Azure customers.”

NVIDIA is collaborating with IBM, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pasqal, and others to develop a quantum computer. “As a first step, we’re developing a new quantum compiler. Called nvq++, it targets the Quantum Intermediate Representation (QIR), a specification of a low-level machine language that quantum and classical computers can use to talk to each other,” said NVIDIA.

People
ProteanTecs CTO Evelyn Landman was named one of the 100 Israeli leaders you need to know by the Wall Street Journal.

May Su joined Onto Innovation’s Board of Directors. She has held numerous roles at Lam Research, KLA, Aviza and Brooks Automation and currently serves as CEO of Kateeva, inc.

Philip Ma joined Bruker‘s board of directors. Ma is CEO of PronomiQ, a healthcare company focused on multiomics technology, which requires massive data analysis. Multiomics uses multiple data “omes’ sets, such as genomes and proteomes.

Events
Upcoming events include IRPS -International Reliability Physics (March 27-31), Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) (April 3-6), SPIE’s Advanced Lithography & Patterning (April 24-28), and Photomask Japan is happening April 26-28th and will be fully online. The CMC (Critical Materials Conference) will be held in Chandler, AZ April 27-29. Imec announced their flagship Future Summits conference on nanoelectronics & deep tech solutions is online and in-person in Belgium (May 17-18). Find more chip industry events here.

New Technical Report Library
Semiconductor Engineering has rolled out its new technical report library for the chip industry. These are academic/research organization reports (not marketing). There’s a drop-down menu of 16 different categories and we’ve added several hundred of the most recent papers, and we are continuing to add dozens each week. If you have research papers you are trying to promote, we will review them to see if they are a good fit for our global audience.

Latest Newsletter
Find Semiconductor Engineering’s March 2022 Manufacturing, Packaging, & Materials newsletter here and the Test, Measurement & Analytics newsletter here.



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