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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Massive fab construction everywhere; training ramp-up; supply chain shifts; CHIPS.gov site; Infineon’s SiC substrate deal; government investments; CapEx; sustainability

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Regional Shifts

Supply chains are moving away from China. Apple, Honda, and Mazda are in line to diversify their manufacturing across different regions, according to one report. Another report says Apple plans to manufacture some of its new iPhone 14s in India.

Mexico wants to be part of U.S.’s drive to move chip manufacturing closer to home, hosting American financiers to discuss electronics investments in Mexico.

U.S. federal agencies are deliberating how and when to dole out money for the CHIPS and Science Act, with a CHIPS Implementation Steering Council established and the launching of a CHIPS.gov site, a new website aimed at communicating implementation plans for the CHIPS funding.

It’s boom time in Ohio with Intel‘s fab construction. Eventually the area will need 7,000 construction workers for the chip plants and the surrounding supporting construction projects.

Micron submitted state tax break applications for a multi-billion-dollar chip plant in Lockhart, Texas, near Austin.

Onto Innovation is opening two new facilities devoted to training and development, one in Gyeonggi-do Province, South Korea, and the other in Hsinchu, Taiwan. “Onto Innovation’s growing importance to our customers’ roadmaps in both front- and back-end manufacturing is creating the need for even closer collaborations,” said Mike Rosa, Onto’s CMO and head of strategy. “Each of these centers will prove to be an effective and timely resource fostering collaboration around equipment technology training, demonstration, and the co-development of on-wafer solutions, where customers can work together with Onto technical experts toward solving their high-value problems.”

Purdue University, which this spring launched the nation’s first comprehensive Semiconductor Degrees Program, will partner with 11 colleges and universities in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan to form the Midwest Regional Network to Address National Needs in Semiconductor and Microelectronics. The network will develop innovative solutions in higher education to best support the onshoring of the advanced semiconductor and microelectronics industries, addressing the industries’ research and workforce needs.

Deals

Intel announced a first-of-its-kind Semiconductor Co-Investment Program (SCIP) that introduces a new funding model to the semiconductor industry. As part of its program, Intel has signed a definitive agreement with the infrastructure affiliate of Brookfield Asset Management, which will provide Intel with a new, expanded pool of capital for manufacturing build-outs. “Semiconductor manufacturing is among the most capital-intensive industries in the world,” said David Zinsner, Intel’s CFO. “Our agreement with Brookfield is a first for our industry, and we expect it will allow us to increase flexibility while maintaining capacity on our balance sheet to create a more distributed and resilient supply chain.”

Cadence‘s analog/mixed-signal design flow was certified for UMC’s 22ULP/ULL process technologies. The flow reduces design cycle time for 5G, IoT, and display applications. “When compared with 28nm capabilities, UMC’s 22ULP/ULL process technologies can reduce chip die area by 10%, provide better power efficiency, and enhance radio frequency performance,” said Osbert Cheng, vice president of device technology development and design support at UMC. “Through this collaboration with Cadence, we are providing customers with an industry-leading design solution, enabling greater efficiency and speeding time to market.”

II-VI Inc. inked a multi-year contract to supply Infineon Technologies with 150mm silicon carbide (SiC) substrates for power electronics. Infineon expects to grow its SiC semi sales by more than 60% on average per year, reaching roughly $1 billion by mid-decade.

Nikkei Asia reports that RIKEN, the Research Organization for Information Science and Technology (RIST) and Fujitsu plan to offer commercial quantum computers starting in April 2023. In March 2021, they jointly completed “Fugaku,” one of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

Chip advances and research

During a keynote at the recent Hot Chips, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said the company plans to increase transistor density in packages from 100 billion today to 1 trillion by 2030. “There has never been a better – or more important time – to be a technologist. We must all be ambassadors for the crucial role semiconductors play in life today,” said Gelsinger.

Also at Hot Chips, Untether AI announced its next-generation at-memory compute architecture for accelerating AI inference workloads. The company claims it can achieve 30 TeraFlops per watt performance.

The National Science Foundation awarded UCLA $1.8 million over three years to establish the Center for Advanced Molecular Architectures for Quantum Information Science, to be led by chemistry professor Anastassia Alexandrova. She and her colleagues have begun developing new molecule fragments called quantum functional groups, which can be attached to molecules or surfaces to form qubits, helping to lock their quantum behavior into steady, predictable patterns. The novel structures can be scaled to trillions of identical qubits.

Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory demonstrated that it is possible to train a quantum neural network with only a small amount of data. “The need for large data sets could have been a roadblock to quantum AI, but our work removes this roadblock. While other issues for quantum AI could still exist, at least now we know that the size of the data set is not an issue,” said Patrick Coles, a quantum theorist at the laboratory and co-author of the paper.

Researchers at Russia’s Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) said they directly observed dual Shapiro steps (quantized ‘voltage steps’) in a superconducting nanowire, confirming a prediction from 1962. Their work holds promise comparable to that of the Josephson effect, which underlies the present-day standard of voltage and ultrasensitive magnetic field sensors.

Other developments

IC Insights‘ 2022 worldwide semiconductor capital-spending forecast now shows a 21% increase this year, to $185.5 billion. The revised outlook, which was included in IC Insights’ recently released August 3Q Update to The McClean Report, is a slight decrease from $190.4 billion and 24% growth that was forecast at the beginning of this year. Though lowered, the revised CapEx forecast still represents a new record high level of spending. If industry capital spending rises as forecast by a double-digit amount this year, it will mark the first three-year period of double-digit capital expenditure gains in the semiconductor industry since 1993 to 1995.

KLA released its 2021 Global Impact Report highlighting its most recent environmental, social, and governance (ESG) progress and goals. Its purpose is to promote the sustainable growth of the business and inform KLA’s stakeholders about the company’s approach to managing and measuring its ESG performance. “In 2021, we remained steadfast in our commitment to fulfill our mission of being positive stewards and living our values,” commented Rick Wallace, KLA’s president and CEO. “Our 2021 Global Impact Report is a testament to KLA’s dedication to continuous innovation and a summary of the environmental, social and governance strides we have made in just one year.” KLA set a SBTi-informed target to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2050

Further reading

See this month’s Manufacturing, Packaging & Materials newsletter for a special report on Big Changes In Architectures, Transistors, Materials.

In this month’s Test, Measurement & Analytics newsletter, check out the stories on how overlay keeps pace with EUV patterning; why nanosheets are driving changes in metrology and inspection; and how to leverage data lakes.

Upcoming events

BACUS, the photomask arm of SPIE, is kicking off a new educational webinar series. Aki Fujimura, CEO of D2S – managing company sponsor of the eBeam Initiative, will be the first keynote speaker. The free event will be held Aug. 30, from 8 to 9 a.m. On the agenda is a brief primer on deep learning (DL), how it’s programmed, and why data augmentation is crucial for DL — especially in the mask industry.

Other events:

  • TSMC Taiwan Technology Symposium, Aug. 30 (Taiwan)
  • DVCon India, Sept. 5-6, 2022 (Bangalore, India)
  • 4th Panel Level Packaging Symposium, Sept. 8 (Berlin, Germany)
  • AI Hardware/Edge AI Summit, Sept. 13 – 15 (Santa Clara, CA)
  • Semicon Taiwan, Sept. 14 – 16 (Taipei, Taiwan)
  • Intel Innovation, Sept. 27 – 28 (San Jose, CA)
  • 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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