Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Diamond IP theft; AI invades New York; SiC wafers.


Chipmakers and OEMs
Diamond semiconductor IP vendor AKHAN Semiconductor is cooperating with a U.S. federal investigation into alleged theft of its intellectual property by China’s Huawei. When AKHAN agreed to send its proprietary technology to Huawei pursuant to an agreement, AKHAN “believes that Huawei destroyed our product, shipped it to China without authorization, subjected it to tests that it was not authorized to conduct, and returned most of it to us in pieces. We still have not recovered all of our product from Huawei, despite repeated written and oral requests and inquiries to Huawei.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that IBM, a tenant at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute campus in Albany, plans to invest over $2 billion to grow its footprint at the campus and throughout New York State. This includes the establishment of an “AI Hardware Center” at SUNY Poly for AI-focused computer chip research, development, prototyping, testing and simulation.

Diodes has entered into an agreement to acquire Texas Instruments’ 200mm wafer fabrication facility and operation located in Greenock, Scotland.

The multi-beam e-beam market for lithography applications continues to undergo a shakeout amid technical roadblocks and other issues. Recently, ASML announced that it had acquired the intellectual-property (IP) assets of Mapper Lithography, a Dutch supplier of multi-beam e-beam tools for lithography applications that fell into bankruptcy late last year. As it turns out, ASML will not continue to develop Mapper’s multi-beam lithography technology, according to the company.

STMicroelectronics has signed an agreement to acquire a majority stake in Swedish silicon carbide (SiC) wafer manufacturer Norstel. ST will acquire 55% of Norstel’s share capital, with an option to acquire the remaining 45% subject to certain conditions, which, if exercised, will result in total consideration of $137.5 million. After closing, ST will control the entire supply chain for a portion of its SiC devices amid constrained global capacity for the technology.

In 2017, global investment firm KKR bought the semi equipment business from Hitachi Kokusai. Now, KKR is exploring the sale of this unit, according to the Financial Times and Reuters.

Adaptive3D, a polymer resin supplier, has secured Series A financing from DSM and Applied Ventures. Applied Ventures is the venture capital arm of Applied Materials. The company is developing a process by which products are constructed layer by layer using 3D-printable materials such as photopolymers.

Precision Surfacing Solutions, formerly Lapmaster Wolters Group, a supplier of equipment and services for precision lapping, polishing, grinding, and honing, will acquire the photovoltaic and specialized substrate material equipment and service business of Meyer Burger.

SEMI is part of a joint advocacy action group voicing its views on RoHS to the European Commission. Click here for the comments. Meanwhile, SEMI-FlexTech, a public/private partnership, has issued a request for proposals (RFPs) for AI, human-machine interface, sensor system and other projects to advance the flexible hybrid electronics ecosystem. Approximately $5 million is allocated for these projects. Primary funding will be provided by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory through SEMI-FlexTech.

SEMI has announced the appointment of John Chong, vice president of product and business development at MEMS manufacturer Kionix, as governing council chair of the SEMI-MEMS & Sensors Industry Group (SEMI-MSIG), a SEMI Strategic Association Partner. The council provides guidance and oversight for SEMI-MSIG’s strategic direction and initiatives.

Packaging and test
During a recent conference call, Tien Wu , chief operating officer at ASE, discusses ASE and the state of IC packaging heading into 2019.

A technology called “RITdb” is a semiconductor manufacturing database project organized as a Working Group under SEMI’s CAST (Collaborative Alliance for Semiconductor Test) Technology Community. Click here for more info.

Market research
In a blog, Mike Russo, the new vice president of global industry advocacy at SEMI, presented some issues regarding trade.

What’s new with tool sub-systems? “Critical subsystems for the IC equipment market continued to grow to a new record of $11 billion in 2018,” said Julian West, a technical and marketing analyst at VLSI Research Europe. “While 2019 is expected to be a downturn year, the long-term outlook remains unchanged with an average growth rate of 3%.”

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