Week in Review: Manufacturing, Test

Billionaire chip fund; HBM3; M2; 4 country alliance; Intel subsidies & delay; IBM exit; Fraunhofer’s new center; TSMC chairman’s view; analyst reports.


Breaking the Logjam
The U.S. government’s delay in funding strategic chip capacity is threatening supply chains that are critical to national security. In fact, classified meetings are being held this week on the subject. Meanwhile, recognizing that time is of the essence, a group of billionaires has backed the “America’s Frontier Fund,” a non-profit group that aims to spur U.S. chipmaking and other deep technologies of strategic interest. The fund will rely on private capital, government funding, as well as other non-profit investors. Tech luminaries Eric Schmidt and Peter Thiel are two of several initial donors. Gilman Louie is the CEO, and former government officials H.R McMaster and Ashton B Carter are on the Board of Directors.

The group is particularly focused on the threat China poses. “Nations like China are investing trillions in a top-down attempt to surpass the United States. If they take the lead in technologies like AI, quantum computing, or advanced energy, it will threaten not only our future global competitiveness, but also the security and collective prosperity of democracies worldwide,” said Jordan Blashek, president and co-founder of America’s Frontier Fund.

The group also will lead the “Quad Investor Network” (QIN), an independent private strategic alliance that includes Japan, India, Australia, and the U.S., with the goal of “identifying and developing bold initiatives to strengthen joint research, development, and investment for foundational technologies, including microelectronics, 5G/6G, quantum, advanced energy and materials, and biotechnology.”

Around the World
Two Fraunhofer divisions, IPMS and IZM-ASSID, are teaming up to create a Center for Advanced CMOS & Heterointegration Saxony in Dresden, Germany, offering the complete value chain in 300mm microelectronics, including front-end CMOS manufacturing, as well as packaging and system integration technologies.

Intel reportedly is getting €6.8 billion ($7.3 billion) in subsidies to set up its Magdeburg, Germany, advanced technology chip factory, expected to open in 2027. This site was first announced in March as part of a European Union expansion, which included a design hub in France, and other manufacturing in Ireland, Italy, Poland, and Spain. TSMC, meanwhile, said it has no current plans to build any factories in Europe.

After suspending its Russian operation in March to evaluate long-term options, IBM said it will wind down its business there and separate from the local workforce.

TSMC Chairman Mark Liu pointed to continuous advancement of semiconductor technology, asserting the upcoming decade will be a “golden era for the semiconductor industry,” in his just-published opinion piece in Fortune magazine. “In the next 50 years, the future generation will likely use virtual- and augmented-reality (VR/AR) as their principal means of interaction with the world. Today’s average VR/AR headsets weigh well over a pound, with a battery life of less than two to three hours, and a high price tag, which reminds us of the cell phones of 25 years ago. To achieve the same level of ubiquity as today’s cell phones, VR/AR devices will need to improve by more than 100 times. This can only be done with continuous advancement of semiconductor technology.”

Japan’s chip material maker Showa Denko plans to raise its prices 30% between 2022 and 2024.

Global Sales
Global semiconductor industry sales in April hit $50.9 billion, an increase of 21% versus April 2021. The Americas and Europe led the pack with 40.9% and 19.2% growth, respectively, compared with last year, according to SIA. “Global semiconductor sales have increased by more than 20% on a year-to-year basis for 13 consecutive months, indicating consistently high and growing demand for semiconductors across a range of critical sectors,” said John Neuffer, SIA president and CEO.

The 7/6 nm technology node took the top spot in Q1 2022, accounting for 18% of the total foundry industry revenue, followed by the 16/14/12nm at 13%, according to a Counterpoint report.

Fig. 1: Foundry revenue share by technology node. Source: Counterpoint

Fab Equipment & Tools
2022 Global wafer fab equipment revenue is expected to grow 18% to $129 billion. “A huge order book, record backlog and demand exceeding capacity will enable equipment manufacturers to expand their capacity to address the shortages and generate higher revenue growth,” according to the Counterpoint report.

Onto Innovation shipped its first Dragonfly G3 system with the new EB40 module, with more systems on order. The new EB40 solution identifies defects at high speed and also offers analytics software to determine the type of defect and, in some cases, the origin.

TEL launched Ulucus L, a laser edge trimming system for 300mm wafer-bonded devices, offering integration with the LITHIUS PRO coater/developer platform. “The system uses laser control technology to produce high-quality cut surfaces through precise and speedy edge trimming operations. Because the laser process is dry and does not require deionized water (DIW), consumption of DIW can be reduced along with dust emissions and wastewater discharges. Since edge trimming is performed after wafer bonding, fewer process steps are required before and after trimming,” according to the release.

M2, Intel’s Sapphire Rapids, HBM3
Apple announced its 5nm-based M2 chip this week, with an 18% faster CPU, a 35% more powerful GPU, and a 40% faster neural engine. The company said its new chip also delivers 50% more memory bandwidth compared to the M1, and up to 24GB of fast unified memory.

Mass rollout of Intel’s latest generation of Xeon server chip, “Sapphire Rapids,” is delayed until end of Q3.

SK Hynix began mass production of HBM3, providing the product to NVIDIA for its H100 Tensor Core GPU starting in the third quarter. HBM3, the fourth-generation HBM product, touts 819GB/s of memory bandwidth, which the company equated to the transmission of 163 full HD movies (5GB standard) every second. Here’s more info on the tradeoffs of HBM3.

Chip Industry Business News & Startups
Semiconductor Engineering launched its new Business & Startups page. Find the latest chip industry stock chart, monthly detailed startup funding reports (including a deep-dive into China’s startups), profiles of new startups, as well as the latest business news.

Test & Measurement
June’s Test, Measurement & Analytics newsletter is here, with these new featured stories, along with many blogs and white papers:
Keeping IC Packages Cool
The Race To Zero Defects In Auto ICs
Removing Barriers For End-To-End Analytics

Upcoming Events
Find upcoming chip industry events, including:
• 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)

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