Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Intel regains top spot in IC rankings; best tool vendors; SiC.


Market research
In terms of overall IC sales, Intel has replaced Samsung as the number one quarterly semiconductor supplier in 4Q18 after losing the lead spot to Samsung in 2Q17, according to IC Insights. “While Samsung held the full-year number one ranking in 2017 and 2018, Intel is forecast to easily recapture the number one ranking for the full-year of 2019, a position it previously held from 1993 through 2016,” according to the firm. “With the collapse of the DRAM and NAND flash markets over the past year, a complete switch has occurred, with Samsung having 23% more total semiconductor sales than Intel in 1Q18 but Intel having 23% more semiconductor sales than Samsung just one year later in 1Q19.”

After three consecutive years of growth, with year-over-year growth of 13.2% in 2018, 2019 is expected to be a down year for semiconductors, according to International Data Corp. IDC forecasts that worldwide semiconductor revenue will decline to $440 billion in 2019, down 7.2% from $474 billion in 2018. IDC also forecasts that semiconductor revenues will recover in 2020 and log a compound annual growth rate of 2% from 2018-2023, reaching $524 billion in 2023. “The current market downturn is being driven by a broad weakness in demand specifically centered in China and an ingestion of excess inventories in some of the major markets including automotive, mobile phones, and cloud infrastructure,” said Mario Morales, program vice president for semiconductors at IDC. “We expect the market to bottom by end of the third quarter this year as we work through inventories and demand begins to gradually return. Cloud infrastructure investment, 5G mobile devices, WiFi 6 adoption, Smart NICs, automotive sensors, powertrain technologies, AI training accelerators, and edge inference SoCs will be instrumental in our growth expectations for 2020 and beyond.”

Fab equipment and materials
VLSI Research has released its annual best equipment suppliers’ list for 2019. Here’s more details. Advantest, ASML, Teradyne, AMEC, and Plasma-Therm earned 5 ”VLSI Star Ratings” in the 2019 10 BEST. VLSI Research received feedback from more than 86% of the chip market and 87% of subsystems customers for this year’s survey.

Applied Materials reported revenue of $3.54 billion in the quarter with an earnings per share of $0.70. “In the second fiscal quarter Applied Materials delivered results toward the top-end of our guidance range, reflecting solid execution across the company in a business environment that remains challenging,” said Gary Dickerson, president and chief executive of Applied. “Looking ahead, we maintain a positive view of our markets as powerful new demand drivers for semiconductors and displays take shape.

Lam Research has announced that Bethany Mayer and Leslie Varon have joined the company’s board effective as of May 9. These additions will expand Lam’s board to 11 members. Mayer is an executive partner at Siris Capital Group LLC. Varon is the former chief financial officer of Xerox.

Soitec has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire EpiGaN, a European supplier of GaN epitaxial wafer materials, for €30M in cash, plus an additional earn-out payment based on completion of certain milestones.

Saint-Gobain has announced the completion of the sale of its silicon carbide grains and powders business, which delivers annual sales of around €120 million, to the private equity firm OpenGate Capital.

Advanced Energy Industries has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Embedded Power business of Artesyn Embedded Technologies (Artesyn EP) from Platinum Equity. The total consideration for this transaction will be approximately $400 million. Artesyn EP is one of the world’s largest providers of application-specific power supplies.

Cree has been selected as the exclusive silicon carbide (SiC) partner for the Volkswagen Group’s “Future Automotive Supply Tracks” Initiative (FAST). The aim of FAST is to work together to implement technical innovations quicker and to realize global vehicle projects even more efficiently and effectively.

Wolfspeed, a Cree Company, has introduced a new product portfolio which includes bare die, discrete and modules. The components are optimized for electric vehicles, industrial and renewable energy applications.

In a research note, John Vinh, an analyst at KeyBanc, said: “The U.S. Department of Commerce has effectively banned Huawei from buying components from U.S. companies by listing them on the Entity list. This move effectively will prevent Huawei from buying U.S. semiconductor components without U.S. government approval. Without specifying an exact date, the statement claimed that the listing will be effective when published in the Federal Register. We believe if no resolution is reached in the near term, this will cause tremendous disruption to the Communications and Mobile supply chain and create risks to forward estimates. The companies in our universe with meaningful Huawei exposure include QRVO, SYNA, QCOM, XLNX, CRUS, SLAB, ADI, ON, and TXN.”

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Cray announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement under which HPE will acquire Cray for $35.00 per share in cash, in a transaction valued at approximately $1.3 billion, net of cash.


Samsung has provided an update regarding its latest foundry technologies. The company talked about its finFETs as well as its nanosheet FETs for the 3nm node. In the works for some time, Samsung’s 3nm technology, dubbed 3GAE, is on track. The company noted that its process design kit (PDK) version 0.1 for 3GAE has been released in April.

Compared to 7nm technology, Samsung’s 3GAE process is designed to provide up to a 45% reduction in chip area with 50% lower power consumption or 35% higher performance. ”The GAA-based process node is expected to be widely adopted in next-generation applications, such as mobile, network, automotive, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and IoT,” according to Samsung.

Samsung also launched the Samsung Advanced Foundry Ecosystem Cloud (SAFE-Cloud) program. “It will provide customers with a more flexible design environment through collaboration with major public cloud service providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, as well as leading electronic design automation (EDA) companies, including Cadence and Synopsys,” according to Samsung

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