Week In Review: Semiconductor Manufacturing, Test

SEMICON West 2023; EU adopts Chips Act; gallium and germanium production; Foxconn abandons India deal; global semiconductor industry sales rebound; pinpointing timing delays for SoCs; new Arizona research center; flexible semiconductor materials.


SEMICON West returned in force this week, with a focus on AI and deep learning  in semiconductor manufacturing, security, heterogenous ICs, and the march toward a $1 trillion chip market. Lam Research President and CEO, Tim Archer, opened with the keynote presentation.

The Bears and Bulls investor panel, SEMICON West 2023. AI’s influence on growth, China-US trade war and the importance of climate policy were discussed among (right to left) Ulrike Hoffman-Buchardi of Tudor Investments (right to left), Lori Keith of Parnassus Investments, and Mark Lipacis of Jeffries and Stacy Rasgon of Berstein with the moderator Jane Lee of Reuters. Source: Semiconductor Engineering / Laura Peters

Fig. 1: SEMICON West panel: AI’s influence on growth, China-U.S. trade war, and the importance of climate policy were discussed among (right to left)  Ulrike Hoffman-Buchardi of Tudor Investments, Lori Keith of Parnassus Investments, Mark Lipacis of Jefferies, Stacy Rasgon of Berstein, and moderator Jane Lee of Reuters. Source: Semiconductor Engineering/Laura Peters

The European Union Parliament adopted the Chips Act, aimed at boosting the EU’s chip industry. The €3.3 billion legislation will support projects in design innovation, production, and talent development, and attract private investment to help build up the EU’s production capacity.

American Elements announced it will significantly expand its production of gallium and germanium at its Utah plant in response to China’s announcement restricting shipments of the key materials for semiconductor manufacturing. “U.S. domestic supply will not be impacted by this short-sighted decision of China,” said CEO Michael Silver.

Foxconn pulled out of a $19.5 billon joint venture with Vedanta to build a chip plant in India, reports Reuters. The company signed the pact last September, but did not give a reason for its withdrawal.

As part of the effort to bolster its semiconductor supply chain, Japan will provide up to ¥75 billion ($530 million) to subsidize Sumco’s new silicon wafer factories in the country’s south, reports Nikkei Asia. The investment will represent up to a third of the total expected costs of the new facilities.

Global semiconductor industry sales are beginning to grow again, with revenues increasing 1.7% to $40.7 billion month-to-month from April to May, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association. That is still 21% less than the May 2022 total of $51.7 billion, but it represents the third straight month of growth, creating optimism for a possible market rebound.

The Electronic System Design (ESD) industry revenue increased 12% to $3.95 billion in the first quarter of 2023, up from $3.52 billion in the first quarter of 2022, reports the ESD Alliance. The increases were seen across all product categories in all regions.

The discrete semiconductor market is projected to expand at a CAGR of 4.1% between 2022 and 2030, growing from a $44.2 million market to a $60.8 million market driven by automotive manufacturing, according to a new report from Reports Insights.

The global automotive semiconductor market is projected to increase at a 15.4% CAGR between 2023 and 2031, according to a new report by Absolute Market Insights. Revenues for global semiconductors in 2022 were $44.9 billion.

Pinpointing timing delays in complex SoCs presents a challenge for heterogenous chips. In-circuit monitors become essential to understand the causes of failures over time and under real-world operating conditions.

Arizona State University (ASU) and Applied Materials announced plans to create the Materials-to-Fab (MTF) Research Center in ASU’s Research Park.

Mission-critical devices are driving the expansion of system-level testing, driven by rising demand in reliable devices for critical applications like automotive, aerospace, AI, and military applications. Meanwhile, government investments in semiconductor manufacturing are shaping future metrology directions.

Onto Innovation announced the launch of an Applications Center of Excellence, a first-of-its-kind facility dedicated to panel-level packaging (PLP) for the chiplet market. The Applications Center will be a combined tool demonstrator, photo resist qualification, process integration and research and development (R&D) facility.

PDF Solutions announced the acquisition of Lantern Machinery Analytics, a privately-held provider of automated image analysis and feature extraction AI/ML software. That software is used for critical inspection and metrology steps in battery cell development and manufacturing processes for the electric vehicle industry.


proteanTecs and Teradyne announced a strategic partnership to bring machine learning-driven telemetry to SoC testing. The new process resides within an SoC running test software and providing telemetry that can detect faults before they cause problems, allowing preventive measures to be taken. “We believe the future of understanding how electronics perform in the field must be based on deep data,” says Nir Sever, senior director of business development at proteanTecs.

Teradyne also launched its Archimedes analytics solution, an open architecture that brings real-time analytics to semiconductor test, optimizing test flow and yield, and lowering costs — while also reducing the security risks present with cloud-based solutions.

Dutch company Nearfield Instruments debuted an innovative new non-destructive, in-line metrology tool, AUDIRA, that provides measurements of subsurface features and identifies defects by combining acoustic force microscopy with atomic force microscopy to “listen” to sound waves coming through wafer layers. The new technology provides complementary metrology for in-line CD-SEM and TEM systems for subsurface process control measurements.

Intel Foundry Services (IFS) certified several EDA design flows for its Intel 16 Process, including  Synopsys’ AI-driven EDA suite and its foundation and interface IP;  Cadence’s digital and custom/analog flows and its design IP; Ansys’ multiphysics tools for power and signal integrity, and reliability signoff verification; and Siemens EDA’s DFM tools.

Onto Innovation announced the expansion of its process control solutions with two new metrology tools, the Atlas S optical critical dimension metrology system and the Element S high-speed impurity mapping, dielectric film composition and epitaxy thickness measurement system.


A super-flexible, printed composite semiconductor material has been developed by scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). In a study published in Advanced Materials Technology, the scientists developed an inkjet printing technique that deposits a composite layer of water-insoluble polymer (Kapton) and indium oxide semiconductor in a homogenous film on flexible materials with potential applications in curved screens, foldable phones, and wearable electronics.

Fig. 1: The composite semiconductor-based transistors on flexible Kapton substrate and envisioned fully printed flexible display. Source: Indian Institute of Science/Jyoti Ranjan Pradhan

Further reading

See our Manufacturing, Packaging and Materials newsletter for these feature articles:

  • 193i Lithography Takes Center Stage…Again
  • Smart Manufacturing Makes Gains in Chip Industry
  • Will CFETs Help the Industry Go Vertical?

Read our Test, Measurement & Analytics newsletter for these highlights and more:

  • Pinpointing Timing Delays in Complex SoCs
  • Mission Critical Devices Drive System-Level Test Expansion
  • Governments Begin to Shape Metrology Directions

Upcoming events in the chip industry:

  • Rambus Design Summit, July 18 – 19 (Virtual)
  • CHIPcon2023: Chiplet and Heterogeneous Integration Packaging (formerly IMAPS aSIP), July 24 – 27 (San Jose, CA)
  • 2023 Flash Memory Conference & Expo, August 8 – 10 (Santa Clara, CA)
  • 32nd USENIX Security Symposium, August 9 – 11 (Anaheim, CA)

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