Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Trade; ASML joins eBeam; materials bidding war?


Trade tensions between the United States and China continue. The U.S. last year slapped a 10% tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. China retaliated with a 10% tariff on $60 billion of U.S. imports. The U.S. said it wants to increase the tariffs on Chinese goods to 25%, but that action has been postponed.

This was the week that the U.S. was supposed to raise tariffs by 25%. Instead, the U.S. postponed a move to raise the tariffs again. “President Trump extended the deadline for List 3, which would have raised U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods from China. SEMI welcomes the deadline extension,” said Jay Chittooran, public policy manager at SEMI, in a blog.

In response to President Trump’s decision to postpone an increase in tariffs on Chinese imports to 25%, Gary Shapiro, president and chief executive of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), added: “We welcome the Trump administration not raising tariffs to 25%. Today, tariffs are costing the tech industry an additional $1 billion per month and the cost of 5G products and parts from China have skyrocketed. We urge both sides to move forward to a permanent resolution that will address trade issues with China, while also protecting American leadership in innovation.”

SPIE Advanced Litho news
The eBeam Initiative–a forum dedicated to the education and promotion of new semiconductor manufacturing approaches based on electron beam (eBeam) technologies–announced that ASML has joined the eBeam Initiative.

ASML is on track to ship a new version of its EUV lithography tool in the second half of 2019. The system, called the NXE:3400C, has a throughput of 170wph with >90% availability. Meanwhile, Nikon is developing a new scanner technology based on a maskless approach. The system, called the Digital Scanner, isn’t based on the traditional maskless approach using electron beams. Instead, the system uses a traditional scanner to pattern features directly on the wafer. It’s still in the R&D stage and Nikon provided few details.

In a paper at the SPIE Advanced Lithography conference, IMS Nanofabrication presented a paper about its next-generation multi-beam mask writer. The system, MBMW-201, is targeted for the 5nm node, although it also can be used for 28nm, 14nm and 7nm. The new system provides 30% more productivity than the existing machine. It also incorporates a system within the tool, which enables it to switch beamlet sizes.

Imec and KMLabs have announced a joint development effort to create a functional imaging and interference lithography laboratory. This lab will enable imaging in resist on 300mm wafers down to a 8nm pitch. Additionally, it will enable time-resolved nanoscale characterization of complex materials and processes, such as photoresist radiation chemistry, two-dimensional materials, nanostructured systems and devices, and quantum materials.

Imec has demonstrated a sequential infiltration synthesis (SIS) technology for EUV lithography. SIS is a technique in which the photoresist is infiltrated with an inorganic element to make it harder and more robust, thereby enhancing the patterning performance on different parameters. This post-lithography technique is shown to reduce stochastic nano-failures and line roughness.

Fab tool and materials
Will we see a bidding war for materials vendor Versum? In the latest mega-merger in materials, Entegris recently announced plans to acquire Versum. Under the proposed plan, the combined company will retain the Entegris name and will be headquartered in Billerica, Mass.

This week, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany made an unsolicited proposal to acquire Versum. Versum issued the following statement in response to the unsolicited proposal by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany: “Versum continues to believe in the strategic and financial rationale of the proposed merger of equals with Entegris.”

Entegris also issued the following statement in response to Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s unsolicited offer to acquire Versum. “The all-stock merger of equals of Entegris and Versum Materials will create a premier specialty materials company for the semiconductor and other high-tech industries and will be able to deliver meaningful value to Versum Materials and Entegris stockholders,” said Bertrand Loy, president and chief executive of Entegris.


Veeco Instruments has announced that SkyWater Technology Foundry has taken delivery of Veeco’s WaferStorm single wafer wet process system to support advanced development work for the design and fabrication of next-generation 3D monolithic system-on-a-chip (3DSoC) technology.

Demand is increasing for engineers and related technical fields in the IC industry, but companies are struggling to find enough talent. In response, SEMI has announced SEMI Works, a comprehensive program to attract, develop and retain the talent critical to the worldwide IC industry. For students, one way to enter the semiconductor field is by looking for internship programs. In a blog, Lam Research outlined its internship program.

The Electronic System Design Alliance, a SEMI Strategic Association Partner, opened nominations for member company executives to serve on the ESD Alliance Governing Council for the next two-year term. Elections, normally on a two-year cycle, were postponed in 2018 as the ESD Alliance became a SEMI Strategic Alliance Partner. During this cycle, up to nine members will be elected to a two-year term.

There are various reports that GlobalFoundries is up for sale. Samsung is eyeing the company, according to a report from The Next Silicon Valley. TSMC is also looking as well. GlobalFoundries denied the rumors, according to reports.

Xpeedic Technology has announced that its 3D full-wave electromagnetic (EM) simulation tool, IRIS, has been qualified on GlobalFoundries 12nm finFET process technology.

Horizon Robotics, a developer of artificial intelligence computing and chip platforms, announced its Series B Financing with $600 million total investment at a valuation of $3 billion. The funding comes from SK Hynix and others.

Market research
Broadcom, Qualcomm and Nvidia were the largest IC design companies in terms of sales in 2018, according to TrendForce.


Allen Rasafar says:

Thank you Mark. This is a nice summary.
ASML started inching toward eBeam back in 2015 by acquisition of HMI. I think the bigger pie in this game is not really eBeam as it is now but there are far more better options and road map for eBeam that excites some players. eBeam initiative is an attractive base for ASML to engage. However the other eBeam strategies and options may impact new players negatively.

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