Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Rare earth takeover; deep learning; copper, tungsten trends.


Wesfarmers, an Australian diversified firm, has made an unsolicited bid to acquire Lynas, one of the world’s largest suppliers of rare earths outside of China. Rare earths are chemical elements found in the Earth’s crust. They are used in cars, consumer electronics, computers, communications, clean energy and defense systems. The big market for rare earths is magnets. In semiconductor production, rare earths are used in high-k dielectrics, CMP slurries and other applications.

It’s a good idea to keep tabs on rare earths. China is the world’s top producer of rare earths. Other nations, including the U.S., is dependent on China for these materials. Last year, China emerged as the biggest importer of rare earths, according to a report from Reuters.


Merck KGaA has commenced an unsolicited tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of Versum for $48 per share in cash. This offer is at the same price per share as the proposal made by Merck KGaA on Feb. 27, which Versum rejected on March 1. Versum has not changed its recommendation in support of the pending all-stock merger of equals with Entegris.

Copper prices are relatively low. But in 2019, copper prices are expected to move higher amid demand from China, according to Roskill, a research firm. Demand is also steady. “2018 proved a good year for demand with growth of around 3%, which when compared to average yearly growth of nearly 2-2.5%, it was a good outcome,” said Roskill analyst Jon Barnes in a video. “It would be great if we could see similar demand this year. It probably won’t be quite as good but still expecting something like 2.5% growth.”

In a video, Roskill analyst Jessica Roberts discusses the outlook for tungsten. Roberts says global tungsten markets are returning to growth following several years of oversupply and low prices.

Fab, packaging and test
In a video, Leo Pang, chief product officer of D2S, describes how GPU-accelerated simulation can enable deep learning for both mask and wafer manufacturing.

In a separate video, Aki Fujimura, chief executive of D2S, provides his takeaways from the SPIE Advanced Lithography Conference. He also discusses the presentations at the annual eBeam Initiative luncheon event, and provides an update on the recently opened Center for Deep Learning in Electronics Manufacturing (CDLe).

In a blog, Lam Research talks about silicon and the silicon wafer process.

Soitec has named Eric Meurice, a former executive at ASML, as chairman. He succeeds Thierry Sommelet, who assumed this role during a prolonged 16-month transition period. In addition, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR) Institute of Microelectronics (IME) and Soitec have launched a joint program to develop and integrate a new layer transfer process for wafer-level multi-chip packaging techniques.

ASE Technology Holding has been included on the CDP Climate A List 2018. CDP is the global authority in environmental footprint and the CDP A List is a benchmark to which global businesses aspire.

Hprobe, a provider of turnkey test equipment, has entered into a new phase of advanced magnetic tester development for MRAM and spin orbit torque (SOT) technologies. Hprobe’s test equipment allows users to test STT-MRAM at the wafer level under a magnetic field and using electrical pulsing. Hprobe is collaborating with IMEC.

TowerJazz and TowerJazz Panasonic Semiconductor Company (TPSCo) have signed a three-year agreement, extending its previous business partnership with Panasonic Semiconductor Solutions (PSCS) through 2022. Under the agreement, PSCS will continue to utilize TPSCo’s three fabs in Japan for its semiconductor business. TowerJazz to maintain its 51% holding of TPSCo shares, with PSCS as a 49% shareholder.

Toshiba is in the midst of spinning off its NAND flash business. Now, Toshiba Electronic Devices & Storage Corp. (TDSC) has consolidated two of its subsidiaries, Toshiba Microelectronics Corp. (TOSMEC) and Toshiba Discrete Semiconductor Technology Corp. (TDIT), into a new company, Toshiba Electronic Device Solutions Corp. (TEDS). The move brings greater efficiency for the operation. TEDS will start operation on April 1.

ON Semiconductor has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Quantenna for $24.50 per share in cash. The acquisition has an enterprise value of approximately $936 million, after accounting for Quantenna’s net cash of approximately $136 million at the end of fourth quarter of 2018. The acquisition enhances ON Semiconductor’s connectivity portfolio.

IEEE International Reliability Physics Symposium (IRPS).
IRPS is slated from March 31 to April 4, 2019. (Hyatt Regency Monterey). “IRPS is the premiere conference for engineers and scientists to present new and original work in the area of microelectronics reliability. Drawing participants from the United States, Europe, Asia, and all other parts of the world, IRPS seeks to understand the reliability of semiconductor devices, integrated circuits, and microelectronic assemblies through an improved understanding of both the physics of failure as well as the application environment. IRPS provides numerous opportunities for attendees to increase their knowledge and understanding of all aspects of microelectronics reliability.”

SOI Silicon Valley Symposium
This year’s event is on April 9 at the San Jose Double Tree Hilton Hotel. This year’s Symposium will focus on SOI products and applications.

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