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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Applied buys Kokusai; Japan-Korea resist row; China DRAM.

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Fab tools and materials
Applied Materials has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Kokusai Electric for $2.2 billion in cash from investment firm KKR. With the acquisition of Kokusai’s semiconductor equipment unit, Applied expands its customer base and gains a foothold in the batch processing equipment business, where a tool can process wafers in parallel. Applied’s strength is in the single processing equipment segment.

Separately, ASM International N.V. has entered into a settlement agreement with Kokusai Electric to resolve all lawsuits regarding the use and infringement of patents.

The industry is ramping up new memory types, such as MRAM, phase-change and ReRAM. “All three of these emerging memories are based on delicate new materials that require breakthroughs in process technology and high-volume manufacturing,” said Niranjan Khasgiwale, vice president in the Imaging and Process Control group at Applied Materials, in a blog. “The critical films are so thin and variation-sensitive that metrology is crucial. The sensitivity of the deposition layers to impurities means that ideally, multiple process steps and metrology should be integrated under vacuum.”

Here’s a dispute that could impact the IC supply chain: Japan plans to tighten restrictions on various electronic materials to South Korea amid political issues, according to a report from Reuters. The materials involve resists, fluorinated polyimide, and high-purity hydrogen fluoride. Here is more information on the subject.

According to report from BusinessKorea, “Japan’s regulation on semiconductor and display material exports to Korea has put Samsung Electronics on red alert.” Samsung’s foundry unit addressed the issue here.

The SEMI Smart Manufacturing Initiative has released a benchmark survey, which assesses the implementation level of automation and control measures aimed at increasing productivity and efficiency in front-end semiconductor fabs.

EV Group has unveiled MLE, a maskless lithography system for advanced packaging, MEMS, biomedical and high-density printed circuit board (PCB) applications.

Chipmakers and OEMs
China’s Tsinghua Unigroup plans to enter the DRAM business. TrendForce has provided some analysis regarding Tsinghua’s DRAM move. In addition, Tsinghua is also an investor in Yangtze Memory Technologies Co. (YMTC), which is developing 3D NAND.

Bain Capital and the Carlyle Group have made a $3.8 billion offer to acquire Osram, a supplier of LEDs, according to a report from Reuters.

Lexani Motorcars has rolled out the G-77: Sky Master, a luxury transporter built on the Ford F-550 chassis. The vehicle features a 33-foot mobile office with 24k gold-plating. The vehicle costs $1 million.

Test
National Instruments (NI) has announced the PXIe-5831 vector signal transceiver (VST) to address time-to-market challenges for X-band, Ku-band and Ka-band radar and satellite communications (SATCOM) components and systems.

Analytics
YieldHub inked a deal with ASIC vendor EnSilica, which will use yieldHub’s yield management and outlier detection for automotive, industrial and IoT chips.

Awards
Robert Dennard, who invented DRAM and led the development of MOSFET scaling rules (aka Dennard’s Law), will receive the Robert N. Noyce Award from the Semiconductor Industry Association in November. Dennard’s first DRAM cell, circa 1966, received a patent in 1978. It had a single transistor.

And Semiconductor Engineering now has an Events page for the industry. Check out upcoming conferences, including SEMICON West & ES Design West next week.



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