Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

$3.8B acquisition; India $3B fab; AMD, Onto, Amkor & JCET earnings; Startup funding; Quantum & cybersecurity; Industry report; Chip shortage hits semi equipment & healthcare; Apple vs Rivos


Acquisitions & Investments
California-based MaxLinear plans to acquire Taiwan-based Silicon Motion (SMI), in a cash and stock deal valued at about $3.8 billion. Silicon Motion’s NAND flash controller technology for solid state storage devices, will extend MaxLinear’s RF, analog, and mixed signal portfolio.

ISMC will invest about $3 billion in a semiconductor plant in India’s southern Karnataka region. The 65nm analog semiconductor fab is expected to employee 1,500 people and will be developed over 7 years on 150 acres of land in Mysuru.

Photonics and batteries led April’s startup funding report, plus funding for compute-in-memory, power semiconductors, solar wafers, and 5G in this look at 88 startups that collectively raised over $1.3 billion.

AMD released Q1 2022 results, reflecting $5.9 billion in revenue, a 71% year-over-year increase, or $5.3 billion in revenue excluding Xilinx, which grew 55% year-over-year. “Each of our businesses grew by a significant double digit percentage year-over year led by EPYC server processor revenue,” said Lisa Su, AMD chairperson and CEO.

Onto Innovation reported Q1 2022 financials, with record revenue of $241 million, a year-over-year growth of 43%, and gross profit margin of 54%.

Amkor Technology announced financial results for Q1 2022 with $1.6 billion in net sales, a 20% year-over-year growth, driven by advanced packaging solutions.

JCET Group released results for Q1 2022, highlighting a revenue of RMB 8.14 billion (~US $1.2 billion), a 21.2% increase year-over year.

Quantum and Security
U.S. President Biden signed an executive order to further promote the quantum computing effort, known as the “National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee” and security measures. The order places the advisory committee directly under control of the White House. Further, the related security memo “directs specific actions for agencies to take as the United States begins the multi-year process of migrating vulnerable computer systems to quantum-resistant cryptography. “

Researchers led by Argonne National Labs announced a new qubit platform, “formed by freezing neon gas into a solid at very low temperatures, spraying electrons from a light bulb’s filament onto the solid, and trapping a single electron there.” According to Dafei Jin, principal investigator of this project and a scientist at Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials, “It would appear an ideal qubit may be on the horizon. Thanks to the relative simplicity of the electron-on-neon platform, it should lend itself to easy manufacture at low cost.”

The U.S. Department of Defense announced a $117 million agreement with GlobalFoundries to transfer its 45nm silicon-on-insulator (SOI) semiconductor manufacturing process from its Fab 10 facility in East Fishkill, New York, to its Fab 8 facility in Malta, New York. The agreement will ensure access to 45nm SOI semiconductors critical to DoD strategic systems.

Industry Reports
Global semiconductor sales increased 23% in Q1 2022 (versus same quarter last year), totaling $151.7 billion, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).

SIA reported March 2022 sales by region versus March 2021 were:
• Americas +40.1%
• Europe +25.7%
• Japan +20.4%
• Asia Pacific/All Other +17.9%
• China +17.3%

The SIA also released a 2022 Factbook, presenting trends, data and policy guidance for the U.S. chip industry. Highlighted stats from the report:
• U.S. capacity as a percentage of the global total has shrunk from 37% in 1990 to 12% today.
• Sales by U.S. headquartered semiconductor firms grew from $71.1 billion in 2001 to $257.5 billion in 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 6%.
• In 2021, semiconductor firms based in the U.S. held 46.3% of the total semiconductor market share, the most of any country’s semiconductor industry.
• Global logic and memory product sales both grew 31% versus last year. (See chart below.)

Source: SIA 2022 Factbook.

Q1 2022 silicon wafer area shipments reached a record high of 3,679 million square inches, with 10% growth year-over-year.

Chip Shortage
The chip shortage is having an impact on semiconductor equipment suppliers. This will hinder the effort to grow semiconductor manufacturing capacity, said Ajit Manocha, president/CEO of SEMI, and Sanjay Malhotra, vice president of corporate marketing and market intelligence at SEMI. “The immediate challenge to expanding SME [semiconductor manufacturing equipment] production is ensuring an adequate, timely and reliable supply of semiconductors. Additionally, silicon substrates are equally crucial for semiconductor production. Raw wafer producers also rely upon SME to increase capacity, and this equipment also requires chips. Industry and government stakeholders calling for capacity growth must make sure SME OEMs and contract manufacturers receive the chips they need to build the tools essential to ramping new fabs.”

Health care is also severely impacted by the chip shortage, with medical supply companies fighting for the chips they need for critical equipment, including imaging systems and patient monitors for ICUs. Although medical chips are less than 1% of the overall chip market, those chips are critical for life-saving equipment, as explained here.

Apple filed suit in U.S. District Court in San Jose against Rivos Inc., alleging “Rivos began a coordinated campaign to target Apple employees with access to Apple proprietary and trade secret information about Apple’s SoC designs. After accepting their offers from Rivos, some of these employees took gigabytes of sensitive SoC specifications and design files during their last days of employment with Apple. Some used multiple USB storage drives to offload material to personal devices, accessed Apple’s most proprietary specifications stored within collaboration applications, and used AirDrop to transfer files to personal devices.“

People, Products & Partnerships
FIRST, a global robotics communication vendor for young people, and SIA are partnering to provide mentorship skill development and address public policy issues to encourage STEM education and workforce development.

Ernst & Young named Subodh Kulkarni, president and CEO of CyberOptics, as a finalist for Entrepreneur Of The Year 2022 Heartland Award.

SEMI promoted Paul Trio to Director of the SEMI International Standards program.

Infinitesima has selected PDF Solutions’ Cimetrix Solution for its control and connectivity needs.

Technical Papers

This week’s additions to SemiEngineering’s technical report library include:
• “A Case For Transparent Reliability In DRAM Systems” (ETH Zurich & TU Delft).
• “Die-Level Thinning for Flip-Chip Integration on Flexible Substrates.”
• “Vertically stacked, low-voltage organic ternary logic circuits including nonvolatile floating-gate memory transistors” (KAIST & Gachon University).

Further Reading
The latest Manufacturing, Packaging and Materials newsletter can be found here and the Test, Measurement and Analytics Newsletter can be found here.

Jobs & Events
Many chip industry events are now in-person. Here are the conferences taking place over the next several months.

The chip industry workforce shortage hasn’t gone away. The latest chip industry job openings can be found here.

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