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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

300mm SiGe; CD-SEMs; big CapEx spenders.

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Chipmakers
GlobalFoundries has announced that its advanced silicon-germanium (SiGe) offering is available for prototyping on 300mm wafers. GF’s SiGe technology has been shipping on its 200mm production line in Burlington, Vt. The technology, a 90nm SiGe process, is moving to 300mm wafers at GF’s Fab 10 facility in East Fishkill, N.Y.

The SiGe technology is called 9HP. “The increasing complexity and performance demands of high-bandwidth communication systems have created the need for higher performance silicon solutions,” said Christine Dunbar, vice president of the RF business unit at GF. “GF’s 9HP is specifically designed to provide outstanding performance, and in 300mm manufacturing will support our client’s requirements for high-speed wired and wireless components that will shape future data communications.”

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United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) has achieved the highest Platinum honors for the “Top 50 Corporate Sustainability Report Award” and the first “English Reportage Award.” The Taiwan Corporate Sustainability Report Award was established by the Taiwan Institute for Sustainable Energy in 2008. It was set up to encourage companies to enhance the quality of sustainability practices and governance information.

Umicore recently announced that it has appointed An Steegen as its new chief technology officer and as a member of its executive committee. She was executive vice president of semiconductor technology and system R&D at Imec. Umicore is a global materials technology and recycling group.

For some time, China has been acquiring technology firms in Europe. But the European Union promises to provide greater scrutiny of these acquisitions due to national security concerns, according to a report from Bloomberg.

South Korea has indicted nine people on suspicion of leaking Samsung’s flexible display technology to a Chinese company, according to a report from Reuters.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced 13 new machine learning capabilities and services. It also revealed a new custom chip to speed up machine learning training and inference, while reducing cost. Amazon has rolled out Graviton, a custom-designed server processor based on ARM’s 64-bit technology. The processor will run various workloads within the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), a Web service that allows customers to run apps and configure storage capacities.

Qualcomm has announced the launch of the Qualcomm Ventures AI Fund to invest up to an aggregate of $100 million in startups transforming artificial intelligence.

Wave Computing has announced the close of its Series E funding round at $86 million, bringing total investment in Wave to over $200 million.

Fab tools and materials
Applied Materials has recognized nine companies with Supplier Excellence Awards for their contributions to Applied’s business over the past year. The awards reflect performance in several areas including quality, service, lead time, delivery, cost and sustainability.

Advantest has announced its latest scanning electron microscope (SEM) for the photomask market. Using Advantest’s proprietary electron beam scanning technology, the new tool measures fine pattern dimensions on photomasks with higher precision and stability.

Soitec has announced its first-half results for the fiscal year 2019. “We achieved strong revenue growth and further increase in profitability during the first half of the year, in line with our full-year guidance,” said Paul Boudre, Soitec’s chief executive. “In the second part of the year, we will carry on with the ongoing capacity investments that are being conducted at our existing production sites, both in France and in Singapore. These investments are key to support customer demand and they reflect our confidence in our growth prospects as evidenced by the confirmed adoption of RF-SOI and FD-SOI by our customers.”

Packaging and test
Advantest has unveiled its new memory tester. The tester is designed for evaluating high-speed protocol NAND flash memories, including UFS3.0 universal flash storage and PCIe Gen 4 NVMe solid-state drives (SSDs).

National Instruments (NI) has announced a new release of LabVIEW NXG. The newest version of LabVIEW NXG simplifies the time-consuming tasks in automated test and automated measurement applications, from setting up and configuring systems to developing test and measurement code and creating web-ready applications. These enhancements help engineers meet challenging time-to-market requirements.

Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE), a member of ASE Technology Holding, has received a Taiwan Corporate Sustainability Award.

Market research
IC Insights has listed its top CapEx spenders in 2019. The firm also forecasts total semiconductor industry capital spending will climb 15% to $107.1 billion this year, the first time that annual industry capex is expected to top $100.0 billion. Following the industry-wide growth this year, semiconductor capex is expected to decline 12% in 2019.

After hitting 7.3% growth in 2018, global demand for flat panel displays (FPDs) in terms of area is forecast to expand 6.4% to 228 million square meters in 2019. It is the first slowdown in year-on-year growth in four years, according to IHS Markit.

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Over $10 billion worth of emerging memory chips could sell every year a decade from now, as new technologies are expected to displace conventional memories, according to a report from Objective Analysis and Coughlin Associates.

The report forecasts predict that the 3D XPoint memory’s sub-DRAM prices will drive revenues to over $5 billion by 2028, while stand-alone MRAM and STT-RAM revenues will exceed $4 billion, reaching one hundred times the 2017 level. “Emerging memory technologies are just now gaining traction, but soon process shrinks and improving economies of scale will reduce prices, and these technologies will replace today’s volatile and nonvolatile memories,” said Jim Handy, general director of Objective Analysis. “Although 3D NAND flash will remain dominant for several generations, other established technologies will feel the heat as newer memories begin to provide similar or better features at a more attractive price.”

“There will be many side benefits to the transition to emerging memory technologies,” said Thomas Coughlin, president of Coughlin Associates. “Moving to a nonvolatile main memory and cache will not only provide immediate power savings, but will also foster the creation of enhanced power-management options by providing new sleep modes, faster recovery from power failures, and dramatic new computer architectures that can retain their state even when powered down.”

Events
The upcoming 2018 IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) is slated from Dec. 1-5 in San Francisco.



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