Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Workforce development; mask repair M&A; new memories.


Public policy
The rise of the digital economy is creating millions of new jobs, but it’s difficult to fill these positions. So, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), a U.S.-based trade group, is encouraging hi-tech companies to offer more apprenticeships. This is especially true for software engineering, networking, data analytics, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) has released a set of government policy recommendations for strengthening America’s efforts in semiconductor technology. The report, titled “Winning the Future: A Blueprint for Sustained U.S. Leadership in Semiconductor Technology,” urges U.S. government leaders to increase investments in semiconductor research, help attract and develop a skilled technology workforce, and ensure open markets and strong protection of intellectual property.

Fab tools and test
Bruker has acquired the semiconductor mask repair and cleaning business of Rave LLC, a provider of nanomachining and laser photomask repair equipment. For calendar year 2018, the acquired business was profitable and had revenues of approximately $25 million. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, and the business has now become part of Bruker’s semiconductor metrology division.

In a blog, Applied Materials talks about the development of three next-generation memory types, namely magnetic RAM (MRAM), phase change memory (PCRAM) and resistive RAM (ReRAM).

Veeco will have its technologists speak at several upcoming events. The presentations involve big-data, high-speed communications, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and high- resolution displays.

Amtech Systems has decided to focus on growth opportunities in the company’s semiconductor equipment and SiC/LED polishing businesses. It intends to sell the company’s solar businesses, including its Tempress and SoLayTec subsidiaries.

Advantest has released the technical program and complete list of keynote speakers for its VOICE 2019 Developer Conference.

In March, China’s Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced new rare earth and tungsten mine production quotas. What does this mean for OEMs? Roskill, a research firm, analyzed the situation.

SK Innovation has spun off its materials business into a company called SK IE Technology. The company plans to supply lithium-ion battery separators, image display units and other products.

Uncertainties in global trade have created both rising and falling fortunes for China’s semiconductor fabrication materials industry, according to TECHCET, an electronic materials advisory services firm. “China’s exports are slowing compared to 4Q2018, especially for companies supplying to Japan, Korea, and Taiwan,” according to the firm. “However, material companies supplying into Europe have seen healthy bookings this quarter. In addition, companies providing materials consumed in power devices report that business remains positive. TECHCET forecasts growth of ~3% this year in the global market for semiconductor manufacturing materials to reach a total of just over $50 billion.”

Intel Capital has announced investments totaling $117 million in 14 technology startups. The 14 companies are developing artificial intelligence (AI) platforms, materials analysis systems, and disruptive new approaches to chip design.

SkyWater Technology Foundry and Intrinsix announced a partnership. Intrinsix will offer SkyWater’s customers a wider breadth of design solutions, addressing a broad range of high performance mixed-signal and other microelectronic device applications. In addition, the engagement will provide design support for emerging carbon nanotube-based 3DSoC and related integrated circuit architectures. Intrinsix offers semiconductor design services to customers who need Trusted Foundry solutions.

Market research
After a strong increase in 2018, the optoelectronics, sensors/actuator and discrete markets are each forecast to reach record-high growth, according to IC Insights.

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