Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Intel’s Ohio fab buildout warning; GF fab; Intel’s New Mexico fab; sustainability in manufacturing; Imec’s interconnects; quantum breakthrough; quantum batteries; market reports on NOR Flash & DRAM


Notes from the fabs
Intel warned the “scope and pace” of the Ohio fab buildout could be impacted due to U.S. Congress’ inaction on funding the $52 billion CHIPS Act. The facility was announced in January with an initial phase investment of more than $20 billion with a larger expansion up to $100 billion over the next decade. The initial phase is not expected to be impacted, other than a delay in the groundbreaking event. But the scope of the larger “mega site” expansion, which could accommodate up to a total of eight fabs, heavily depends on funding from the CHIPS Act. Intel’s announcement comes after last week’s pressure campaign from 123 tech executives, who urged passage of the related legislation.

GlobalFoundries held a first tool-in ceremony at its new Singapore fab, placing a Lam Research etch tool into the cleanroom. GF estimates its capacity at 450,000 wafers (300mm) per year, raising the total capacity of the company’s Singapore site to about 1.5 million wafers (300mm) annually.

Meanwhile, Intel is pouring money and talent into its New Mexico facility, to the tune of $3.5 billion, as it re-commits to domestic manufacturing. The headcount at the Rio Rancho facility is expected to top 1,900 by December, with 46 positions currently open.

Seeing green
Sustainability in manufacturing continues to resonate in the chip industry. Taiwan’s United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC) become the first semiconductor foundry to receive the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) validation of climate goals. UMC has pledged to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Tokyo Electron, meanwhile, announced a revision of its long-term environmental goals, also committing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

And in Europe, Imec announced that DYAMAND, a spin-off from its collaboration with Ghent University, is now offering “e-save,” a vendor-agnostic middleware solution to more smartly manage environmental controls in buildings. Imec predicts a heating cost reduction of up to 30%.

Research breakthroughs
Imec demonstrated semi-damascene interconnects with fully self-aligned vias at 18nm metal pitch. This approach, if successful, holds potential for significant cost reduction in chip manufacturing. “It allows for higher line aspect ratios while keeping capacitance under control – promising an overall RC benefit,” explained Zsolt Tokei, Imec fellow and program director of nano-interconnects. “The absence of a metal CMP step leads to a more simplified and cost-effective integration scheme.”

Quantum computing moved a bit closer to a commercial reality with the publication of a new research paper on quantum coherence. A more lay-friendly version can be found here.

Quantum batteries appear to be gaining some momentum. The main attraction is extremely rapid charging time for EVs.

Chip prices
Sales of NOR flash devices increased by 63% in 2021, and the average selling price jumped 23%, according to IC Insights. The firm predicts the market for NOR flash will rise another 21% to $3.5 billion in 2022.

TrendForce is less bullish on the DRAM market, due to a drop in consumer demand spurred by high inflation. This has led to an increase in DRAM inventory and consequent 3% to 8% drop in prices in Q3 2022, according to a release. “A more than 8% pricing dip in certain DRAM products for PCs and smart phones cannot be ruled out,” the firm said.

Consumer DRAM likely will be hit the hardest, says TrendForce, with DDR4 and Mobile DRAM predicted to drop approximately 3% to 8% in Q3. On the other hand, it’s possible that DDR5, and DRAM for graphics and servers may not drop at all.

Business and Startups
Semiconductor Engineering launched a 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.

Upcoming Events
Find upcoming chip industry events, including:
• International Interconnect Technology Conference (IITC): June 27-30 (San Jose, CA/Hybrid)
• SEMICON West/DAC: July 11-14 (San Francisco,CA/Hybrid)
• International Symposium on Failure Analysis and Material Testing—FAMT2022 (Erlangen, Germany/Hybrid)

Call for papers
IEEE IEDM will be held at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, Dec. 3-7, 2022. The deadline for submitting papers  is July 14th.

Further Reading
June’s Manufacturing, Packaging and Materials newsletter published last week includes these featured stories, along with many blogs and white papers:
• Ways To Address The Materials Crunch
• Variation Making Trouble In Advanced Packages
• High-NA EUV May Be Closer Than It Appears

Semiconductor Engineering’s latest Test, Measurement & Analytics newsletter is here, including a special report on keeping IC packages cool. Other top stories include getting to zero defects in auto ICs, removing barriers for end-to-end analytics, and deep learning in inspection.

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