Week in Review: Manufacturing, Test

Hybrid bonding breakthrough; Advantest’s acquisition; chip substitution issues; advanced packaging; fastest supercomputer; semi-equipment billings; global sales; semiconductor degree program


Hybrid Bonding & Supercomputers
At this week’s ECTC conference, CEA-Leti and Intel presented an “optimized hybrid direct-bonding, self-assembly process,” which they claim has the potential to increase alignment accuracy and speed up fab throughput by several thousand dies per hour. The approach uses capillary forces of a water droplet to align dies on a target wafer.

“Commercial scale throughput with D2W self-assembly presents two main challenges related to die handling,” said Emilie Bourjot, CEA-Leti’s 3D integration project manager, in the announcement. “If the self-assembly process is combined with a pick-and-place tool, the throughput can be increased by reducing the time of alignment, since the fine alignment is performed by the droplet. When self-assembly is combined with a collective die-handing solution, the throughput is increased by the fact that all dies are bonded together at the same time without any high precision placement at any time along the process flow.”

ORNL’s Frontier supercomputer in Tennessee was crowned the world’s fastest, with 1.1 exaflops of performance and a theoretical peak performance of 2 exaflops, which equals 2 quintillion calculations per second. Frontier contains 74 HPE Cray EX supercomputer cabinets with 9400 AMD-powered nodes and 90 miles of cables. China did not participate in the rankings.

Industry Growth & Acquisition
Q1 2022 Global semiconductor equipment billings grew to US$24.7 billion, a 5% year-over-year increase, but a 10% decline quarter-over-quarter, according to SEMI’s latest report. Year-over-year, North America and Europe grew 96% and 119% respectively, while Korea and Taiwan declined 29% and 15%, respectively.

2022 semiconductor sales are expected to grow 11%, which is relatively unchanged from IC Insights’ prior overall outlook for 2022. The recent update reflects bigger growth in microprocessors and power discretes and lower growth for optoelectronics versus the prior outlook.

Advantest is acquiring Italy-based CREA (Collaudi Elettronici Automatizzati S.r.l.), a supplier of power semiconductor test equipment. “The acquisition of CREA will expand our test and measurement solutions within the evolving semiconductor value chain to meet a wider range of customer needs,” said Advantest President and CEO Yoshiaki Yoshida, in a statement. “By integrating CREA’s product lineup, development capabilities, excellent customer base, and world-class R&D team into the Advantest Group, we can enrich our portfolio of power semiconductor test solutions. I am also confident that as the power device market is expected to grow in the future, this acquisition will contribute directly to our and our customers’ efforts to help achieve Net Zero.”

Broadcom announced its Q2 2022 revenue of $8.1 billion, an increase of 23% from the prior year period that was strongly driven by networking and server storage.

Micron’s venture capital arm, Micron Ventures, is investing $200M in deep tech startups with Fund II, bringing total assets under management up to $300M. The Micron Ventures team is focused on AI/ML applications and new compute architectures according to their site.

Chip Substitution Security Concerns
Substituting chips is becoming more common in the electronics industry as shortages drag on, allowing systems vendors to continue selling everything from cars to manufacturing equipment and printer cartridges without waiting for a commoditized part. But substitutions aren’t always an even swap, and they increase security risks in ways that may take years to show up or fully understand. Read more here.

Advanced Packaging
ASE unveiled a new advanced packaging platform, VIPack. The next-gen heterogeneous integration architecture leverages “advanced redistribution layer (RDL) processes, embedded integration, and 2.5D and 3D technologies” for use when integrating multiple chips within a single package.

Around the World
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger met with Samsung Electronics’ Lee Jae-yong in South Korea to discuss potential collaborations.

SEMI Europe encouraged “speedy adoption” of the European Chips Act. The U.S. is still negotiating its own Chip Act, with a recent roundtable discussion by various senators and main chip companies.

Germany’s Merck KGaA, supplier of semiconductor materials, inked a deal for a new 69-acre production plant in the Chinese city of Zhangjiagang (east of Shanghai). The facility will produce thin film materials and electronic gas.

Tokyo Electron announced a number of personnel and organization changes, including a number of changes within the Board of Directors. These changes will happen over the next month.

Purdue University officially launched its Semiconductor Degrees Program (SDP) for both undergraduate and graduate levels. The program features “6-in-1 content” that includes chemicals/materials, tools, design, manufacturing, and packaging to span the semiconductor ecosystem.

Dust off your suitcases. In-person events are back.
• SWTest: June 5-8 (Carlsbad, CA)
• Frontiers of Characterization & Metrology for Nanoelectronics (FCMN): June 20-23 (Monterey, CA)
• International Interconnect Technology Conference (IITC): June 27-30 (San Jose, CA/Hybrid)
• Semicon West/DAC—July 10-14 (San Francisco & virtual)

Further Reading
• Latest Manufacturing, Packaging & Materials newsletter.
• Latest Test, Measurement & Analytics newsletter.

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