Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

6nm vs 5nm; GF sells Fishkill fab; Intel exits 5G chip biz.


Here comes the battle between 5nm and 6nm processes at two foundry vendors—Samsung and TSMC. Meanwhile, Intel is behind and scrambling to get 10nm out the door. (Intel’s 10nm is equivalent to 7nm from the foundries.)

Last week, TSMC announced delivery of a complete version of its 5nm design infrastructure. TSMC’s 5nm technology is based on a finFET.

This week, Samsung announced that its 5nm finFET process technology is complete in its development and is now ready for sampling. Compared to 7nm, Samsung’s 5nm finFET process provides up to a 25% increase in logic area efficiency with 20% lower power consumption or 10% higher performance. Like 7nm, Samsung has implemented extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography for metal layer patterning, thereby reducing mask layers and providing better fidelity.

Also, Samsung is collaborating with customers on 6nm, a customized EUV-based process node. It has already received the product tape-out of its first 6nm chip. “Considering the various benefits, including PPA and IP, Samsung’s EUV-based advanced nodes are expected to be in high demand for new and innovative applications such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), high-performance computing (HPC), and automotive,” said Charlie Bae, executive vice president of the Foundry Business at Samsung.

This week, TSMC also introduced a 6nm finFET process using EUV. TSMC also posted lackluster results in the quarter, according to a report from Bloomberg.


ON Semiconductor has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire GlobalFoundries’ 300mm fab located in East Fishkill, N.Y. The total consideration for the acquisition is $430 million, of which $100 million has been paid at signing of the definitive agreement, and $330 million will be paid at the end of 2022, after which On Semiconductor will gain full operational control of the fab, and the site’s employees will transition to On Semiconductor. Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions. Earlier this year, Taiwan specialty foundry vendor Vanguard International Semiconductor (VIS) acquired GlobalFoundries’ Fab 3E facility in Singapore for $236 million.

UMC said that this week’s 6.1 magnitude earthquake recently recorded in Hualian, Taiwan registered as a magnitude 3 at UMC’s Hsinchu site and a magnitude 2 at its Tainan’s Fab 12A plant. “The tremor had no impact to UMC’s operations. All personnel are safe at UMC’s Hsinchu and Tainan production sites and manufacturing remains normal,” according to UMC.

At one time, Apple was supposed to use Intel’s 5G cell-phone chipset or modem for its 5G smartphones. But Apple is back with its former suppler, Qualcomm, after settling a bitter suit between the two companies. The companies have reached a six-year license agreement, including a two-year option to extend, and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.

Here’s the big news: Intel will exit the 5G smartphone modem business. The company will continue to meet current customer commitments for its existing 4G smartphone modem product line, but does not expect to launch 5G modem products in the smartphone space, including those originally planned for launches in 2020. Intel also has announced the acquisition of Omnitek, a provider of video and vision FPGA IP solutions.

Fab tools
D2S, a supplier of computational systems for semiconductor manufacturing, has introduced TrueMask DLK. This is a GPU-accelerated deep learning kit designed to boost the R&D capabilities of photomask and semiconductor manufacturers. TrueMask DLK utilizes a GPU-accelerated computational design platform and embedded mask and lithography simulators tuned to complex features and processes, such as curvilinear mask shapes and mask 3D effects. It provides a deep learning engine and pre-trained deep learning neural networks that can enable manufacturers to accelerate their R&D efforts.

At the recent Semicon China trade show, Tim Archer, Lam Research’s president and chief executive, gave a keynote on the continuing need for innovation in equipment manufacturing and process development.

In a blog, Applied Materials talks about an e-beam inspection technology that can quickly detect, image and measure critical defects buried within multiple layers of films.

Mycronic has launched a new mask writer for the low- to mid-end display photomask market. The Prexision Lite 8 mask writer is built on a new platform and designed to meet the requirements for cost-efficient production of photomasks for main stream displays up to G8 mask sizes.

Technoprobe, a supplier in the microelectronics/semiconductor test industry, has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Microfabrica, a provider of microscale additive manufacturing technology.

Sila Nanotechnologies, a next-generation battery materials company, has secured $170 million in Series E funding led by Daimler to bring the first Sila Nano-powered batteries into the market, accelerating the path toward powerful, low-cost electric vehicles.

Market research
Worldwide semiconductor photomask sales set a new high of $4.04 billion in 2018 and is forecast to extend its record-setting streak through 2020 with forecast sales of $4.2 billion, according to SEMI.

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