Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

GlobalFoundries unveils GF Labs; more capacity ahead for older nodes; earnings; deals; liquid storage; going green.


GlobalFoundries launched GF Labs, an “open framework of internal and external research and development initiatives that deliver a differentiated pipeline of market-driven process technology solutions for future data-centric, connected, intelligent and secure applications.”

Greg Bartlett, GF’s senior vice president of technology, engineering at quality, said the goal is to develop and expand processes that are not at the forefront of Moore’s Law, which accounts for 70% of all chips. He pointed to four different areas that will be addressed by GF Labs: physical sciences innovation, design innovation — including tradeoffs and how to optimize chips — market focus, and partnerships and ecosystems.

Capacity and supply chains
The U.S – EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) met this week in Paris and made progress on a number of technology matters, including developing a “early warning system to better predict and address potential semiconductor supply chain disruptions, as well as a transatlantic approach to semiconductor investment aimed at ensuring security of supply and avoiding subsidy races.” The cooperation included steps to diversify supply chains for rare earth magnets and address security risks for high-risk suppliers.

TSMC is considering building a ~$5bn fab in Singapore for chips at older process nodes.

Renesas announced a 90 billion yen (~US $700 million) investment to reopen its Kofu Factory in Japan. The 18,000-square-meter fab was previously shuttered. It will reopen in 2024 as a 300mm wafer fab for power semiconductors. “This investment enables us to have our largest wafer fabrication line dedicated to power semiconductors, which are key to realizing decarbonization,” said Hidetoshi Shibata, president and CEO of Renesas.

GlobalFoundries and Motorola Solutions have entered into a long-term agreement to safeguard chips for Motorola Solutions’ radios, which are used by governmental public safety organizations and enterprises globally.

Pall Corp. is building an +18,000 square meter manufacturing facility in Singapore, at an initial cost of $100 million. The facility will produce lithography and wet-etch filtration, purification, and other solutions used for advanced nodes.

Texas Instruments broke ground on its new 300mm semi wafer fab in Sherman, Texas. The $30 billion investment is expected to bring 3,000 direct jobs with production starting in 2025.

Business leaders need to spend much more time with suppliers, according a Harvard Business Review article entitled, “The Semiconductor Crisis Should Change Your Long-Term Supply Chain Strategy.” Surprisingly, CEOs spend just 1% of their time with suppliers, which didn’t help them when the current chip shortage hit.

Latest Semiconductor Earnings Releases
The theme of recent chip industry earnings releases is certainly revenue growth. Financial releases from these companies are no exception.

Company Period Reported Revenue Year-over-Year % Increase
Applied Materials Second Quarter $6.25 billion +12% (versus Q221)
Analog Devices (ADI) Second Quarter $2.97 billion +79% (versus Q221)
Tower Semiconductor First Quarter $421 million +21% (versus Q121)
Camtek Ltd. First Quarter $77.2 million +35% (versus Q121)
Nova First Quarter $134.0 million +59% (versus Q121)
Kioxia Holdings Corp FY2021 ended 3/31/2022
Annual Results
1,526.5 billion yen +29% (versus FY20)

Imec is exploring two new liquid-based storage concepts—colloidal and electrolithic memory—for ultrahigh-density storage. The new technology was recently presented at the 2022 International Memory Workshop (IMW). “After NAND-Flash scaling has saturated, we expect different storage technologies to co-exist, each trading off size, energy consumption, latency, and cost. New concepts for storage are being investigated, not to replace the existing storage solutions but to complement them in the latency/productivity space,“ Imec said.

Global DRAM revenue fell 4% versus last quarter, according to the latest report by TrendForce, citing weakened demand from inflation and the Ukraine war affecting the performance of terminal consumption. “Thanks to favorable demand in the PC and automotive market, the revenue of Micron, one of the three major DRAM manufacturers, rose slightly by 2.4%. But Samsung and SK Hynix revenue fell by 1.1% and 11.8% respectively. In total, these two South Korean manufacturers account for a market share of 70.8%, remaining firmly in the top two. “

Collaborations and products
Qualcomm and AMD are partnering to optimize Qualcomm’s FastConnect connectivity system for AMD’s Ryzen processors.

Advantest is providing real-time data streams and analytics for Synopsys’ SiliconDash solution.

Siemens EDA said its Calibre nmPlatform can now leverage GlobalFoundries silicon photonics platform.

Advantest uncorked its EXA Scale EX test station for its V93000 platform. When used with its M4171 handler, testing capability in a lab can be quadruped, within the existing floor space.

NIST awarded more than $2 million in grants (second round) to a number of organizations in the U.S. to develop manufacturing technology roadmaps in the U.S., including:
SEMI & UCLA‘s Center for Heterogeneous Integration and Performance Scaling for a roadmap for advancing heterogeneous integration and advanced packaging technologies in the United States.
University of Houston (carbon-neutral machines focus)
Case Western Reserve University (AI/ML, advanced materials)
SRI (quantum)

Seeing green
With a number of companies touting their progress towards lower greenhouse emissions, the pressure is increasing on all business. CEOs are now placing environmental sustainability in their top 10 business priorities for the first time ever, according to a Gartner survey.

McKinsey reviewed the current state of the “going greener” efforts specifically in the chip industry and collected best practices, noting “as the node size of chips continues to shrink, energy requirement at production facilities are expected to rise significantly.” The report also notes accessibility to renewable energy may influence the location where new fabs are built.

Imec announced its Sustainable Semiconductor Technologies and Systems (SSTS) research program is bringing together industry leaders in the chip industry ecosystem to support efforts to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint. Participants include large system companies such as Apple and Microsoft, to suppliers, including ASM, ASML, KURITA, SCREEN, and Tokyo Electron.

Education & Technology Innovation
Intel now has a virtual museum, including the science behind its technology as well as the company’s history.

Brewer Science’s newly released series of videos, entitled “We Are Manufacturing,” explain STEM-level fundamentals of semiconductor manufacturing, including supply chain management, quality control and more.

Advantest announced a new ACS University Program allowing research partners to join in the growing ACS ecosystem, a family of products built on a unified data platform.

Further reading
Find this week’s Manufacturing, Packaging & Materials newsletter here. Highlights include:

May’s Test, Measurement & Analytics newsletter is here.

Here are some recent additions to Semiconductor Engineering’s technical report library:

Enhancing sensitivity in atomic force microscopy for planar tip-on-chip probes.
Laser slice thinning of GaN-on-GaN high electron mobility transistors.
Plasma-based area selective deposition for extreme ultraviolet resist defectivity reduction and process window improvement.

In-person chip conferences are back, including the Power Semi Executive Summit, ISCAS, ISC High Performance, ECTC, SW Test all coming up in the next few weeks. SEMICON China in Shanghai has been cancelled due to the Covid outbreak. The event (revamped) has been rescheduled to October 2022.

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