Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Samsung’s $200B Texas fabs plan; game-changing new semiconductor; Skywater’s $1.8B Indiana fab; Siemens to buy Zona; PDF teams with SAP; CHIPS Act progress


Ramping capacity
Samsung is considering building as many as 11 fabs in central Texas, investing an estimated $200 billion and creating as many as 10,000 jobs. The plans came to light when the company filed paperwork for tax breaks. Samsung already has broken ground on a new $17 billion fab in Taylor, Texas. The remaining nine fabs, including two in nearby Austin, would be built over the next couple decades. Tax breaks could amount to $4.8 billion. The fabs would start operating in 2034, with the last two slated to open in 2042.

SkyWater announced plans to build an advanced $1.8 billion fab, in partnership with the state of Indiana and Purdue University, if the CHIPS Act passes. “This endeavor to bolster our chip fabrication facilities will rely on funding from the CHIPS Act. Federal investment will enable SkyWater to more quickly expand our efforts to address the need for strategic reshoring of semiconductor manufacturing,” said Thomas Sonderman, SkyWater’s president and CEO. “Through our alliance with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and Purdue Research Foundation, we have a unique opportunity to increase domestic production, shore up our supply chains, and lay the groundwork for manufacturing technologies that will support growing demand for microelectronics.”

Meanwhile, the CHIPS Act is making progress. The U.S. Senate voted to begin debating the bill. However, an amendment for millions in additional spending was included, which could lead to more of the back-and-forth that has held up passage for more than a year. Once again applying pressure, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo warned of a “a deep and immediate recession” if the U.S. should ever lose access to Taiwanese suppliers.

Palomar Technologies is expanding its Innovation Center in Singapore to meet growing demand in Southeast Asia for process development and specialty OSATs. “Strong demand from our regional Asia Pacific customer base has driven us to expand the footprint of our Singapore Innovation Center for the second time in five years,” said Rich Hueners, Palomar’s managing director. “This expanded area will serve to host plasma cleaning, dry boxes, and customer-specific test equipment, while the original lab area will continue to host the die attach, wire bond and vacuum reflow equipment.”

Materials Research
New research is claiming cubic boron arsenide could be a “game-changing” semiconductor with a “very high mobility for both electrons and holes,” according to this MIT article. “Imagine what boron arsenides can achieve, with 10 times higher thermal conductivity and much higher mobility than silicon,” said lead author Jungwoo Shin.  Find the technical paper here.

After four years, Apple agreed to a $50 million settlement of the class action lawsuit brought by customers who bought MacBook Airs with “butterfly” keyboards. In the end, that will work out to $50 to $395 per customer repair. In court documents, Apple stated: ““The proposed settlement to resolve this case is not an admission of guilt or wrongdoing of any kind by Apple.”

IQE accused Tower Semiconductor of “misappropriation of its intellectual property.” In February, Intel agreed to acquire Tower Semiconductor for $5.4 billion.

Siemens Digital Industries Software entered into an agreement to acquire ZONA Technology, which specializes in aeroelastic simulation technology. “The aerospace industry is facing unprecedented technological challenges as it pursues the complexity of both climate-neutral aviation and the rebirth of supersonic travel,” said Jean-Claude Ercolanelli, senior vice president of simulation and test solutions at Siemens. The company said the deal will boost Siemens’ capabilities for end-to-end airframe structure decision and certification workflow.

ASM agreed to acquire LPE, expanding its footprint in silicon carbide epitaxy equipment. “LPE, with its strong culture of innovation and traction with silicon carbide device makers, both for 150mm and 200mm substrates, is well positioned to serve the needs of global automotive customers and their decarbonization drive,” said Benjamin Loh, president and CEO of ASM. “Next to ASM’s expanding position in advanced Epi applications for the logic/foundry and memory markets, ASM is also a leader in silicon epitaxy solutions for the power electronics, analog and wafer markets. LPE’s offering of advanced SiC epitaxy tools complements ASM’s offering.”

PDF Solutions and SAP teamed up to connect financial and operational data to improve efficiencies. “Our customers are seeking more ways to leverage their process and product data as part of their Industry 4.0 initiatives,” said Kimon Michaels, executive vice president for products and solutions at PDF Solutions. “Collaborating with SAP was a logical next step for us because of the complementary synergies across our organizations. The Sapience Manufacturing Hub is designed to provide businesses that use SAP solutions with direct access to new sources of data that can be correlated with existing ERP data, providing unique insights to help our mutual customers achieve sustained profitability in semiconductor manufacturing.”

Getting Greener
Advantest has a 17,000-square meter biotope on the grounds of its Gunma R&D Center. It released a new video of the biotope. The goal is to restore the original ecosystem of Kanto plain in Japan.

Further Reading
July’s Manufacturing, Packaging and Materials newsletter was published this week, with these top stories:

In case you missed this month’s Test, Measurement & Analytics newsletter, check out the stories on improving yield with machine learning, finding frameworks for end-to-end analytics, and why e-beam’s role is growing for defect detection.

Upcoming events
In-person and hybrid conferences are back. On the schedule:

• IEEE International Conference on Manipulation, Manufacturing and Measurement on the Nanoscale (3M-NANO), Aug. 8 – 12 (Tianjin, China/Hybrid)
• SPIE Optics & Photonics, Aug. 21 – 25 (San Diego, CA)
• AI Hardware/Edge AI Summit, Sept. 13 – 15 (Santa Clara, CA)
• Semicon Taiwan, Sept. 14 – 16 (Taipei, Taiwan)
• SPIE Photonics Industry Summit, Sept. 21 (Washington, D.C.)
• SPIE Photomask Technology/Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography, Sept. 25 – 29 (Monterey, CA)
• 55th International Symposium on Microelectronics, Oct. 3 – 6 (Boston)

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