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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Fastest growing IC apps; AI chip forecast; auto outlook.

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Market research
IC Insights has released its forecast for chips in terms of applications. Communications is still the biggest IC market, but automotive is growing the fastest.

In its first forecast of artificial intelligence (AI) edge processors, International Data Corp. (IDC) estimates that worldwide shipments of AI-optimized processors for edge systems will reach 340.1 million units in 2019, an increase of 170.0% over 2018. By 2023, IDC expects the market will reach unit shipments of 1.5 billion and achieve a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 64.9%.

KeyBanc Capital Markets (KBCM) has lowered its IC unit forecast to -4% from +1% for 2019. “The decline is largely due to lower than expected 1Q shipment and increasing risks and uncertainties related to the U.S./China trade war, especially given the Huawei export restriction. We expect IC ASPs to decrease 9% y/y (down from -8%) due to ASPs decline in memory,” according to the firm. “Consequently, we estimate total IC revenue to be down 13% y/y (down from -7% y/y) due to lower shipment and memory ASPs. These estimates compare to 5-year average annual growth rates for IC unit, ASP, and revenue of +9%, +1%, and +10%, respectively.”

Another forecast from KeyBanc: “Tier 1 auto suppliers not seeing auto demand improve in China despite stimulus measures. Feedback from multiple tier-1 automotive suppliers at KBCM’s Industrials conference indicated demand in China for automobiles remains weak and there has been no pickup in demand despite numerous stimulus measures by the government including (1) VAT tax cut, (2) suspension of the license plate lottery, and (3) reduction in auto purchase transaction taxes. Auto suppliers indicate current expectations are for Chinese auto production to be down -10% y/y in 2019.”

SEMI reported that worldwide semiconductor manufacturing equipment billings for the first quarter of 2019 dropped 8% from the previous quarter and 19% from the same quarter in 2018 to $13.8 billion.

Chipmakers
United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) was ranked in the top 5% of companies for the fifth consecutive year in the Corporate Governance Evaluation conducted by the Taiwan Stock Exchange and Taipei Exchange.

GlobalFoundries and Soitec have signed multiple long-term supply agreements for 300mm silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers to secure the high-volume supply to meet the growing demand for radio-frequency-silicon-on-insulator (RF-SOI), fully-depleted-silicon-on-insulator (FD-SOI) and silicon photonics technology platforms.

Here’s a scoop from The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y. “GlobalFoundries announced a leadership change for its Malta computer chip factory Wednesday. Peter Benyon, vice president and general manager at GlobalFoundries’ Fab 7 in Singapore, will become general manager at Fab 8 in Malta, effective July 1.”

Test, fab tools
National Instruments has demonstrated a quad-site mmWave 5G packaged test solution developed in collaboration with Tessolve and Johnstech.

Lam Research has announced that Sohail Ahmed has joined the company’s board. Ahmed previously served as senior vice president and general manager of the Technology Manufacturing Group at Intel.

PDF Solutions announced that Nancy Erba has joined the company’s board. Erba will also serve on the company’s audit and corporate governance committee. Erba most recently served as chief financial officer at Immersion.

Deals
YieldHub, an Irish analytics company, inked a deal with EnSilica for yield management and outlier detection. EnSilica makes custom ASICs for the automotive, industrial and IoT markets. Outlier detection is particularly important in the automotive and industrial markets, where chips are required to be defect-free for up to 20 years. Design and manufacturing data needs to be stored and available throughout that period, as well.



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