Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

3D NAND tools; more SiC wafers; Intel vs. Samsung.


Fab tools
Lam Research has rolled out two new tools for use in the production of 3D NAND. The first tool, called the VECTOR DT, is geared for backside deposition. The second system, the EOS GS, is a wet etch tool for film removal on backside and bevel.

Designed to control the wafer bow in 3D NAND manufacturing, the VECTOR DT system is the latest addition to Lam’s plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) product family. Lam’s EOS GS wet etch product complements the VECTOR DT by simultaneously removing backside and bevel films with wet etch uniformity.

“As our customers continue to dramatically increase the number of memory cell layers, the cumulative stress and wafer bow can exceed the limits of a lithography tool. Minimizing stress-induced distortion is critical for achieving the desired yield and enabling the cost-per-bit roadmap,” said Sesha Varadarajan, senior vice president and general manager of the deposition product group at Lam Research, in a statement. “With the addition of the VECTOR DT and EOS GS systems, we are expanding our stress management solutions portfolio for managing global stress in support of our customers’ vertical scaling roadmap.”


KLA reported GAAP net income of $218 million, or $1.35 per share, on revenue of $1.258 billion for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2019. “In the fourth fiscal quarter KLA delivered results above the midpoint of our range of guidance, reflecting solid execution in a challenging business environment,” commented Rick Wallace, president and chief executive of KLA, in a statement.

CyberOptics has received an order valued at approximately $1.3 million for Multi-Reflection Suppression (MRS)-enabled SQ3000 Multi-Function systems for inspection purposes. The systems, which will be used in the scale up for the production of micro LED-based technology, are expected to ship through the second quarter of 2020. CyberOptics obtained another order as well.

Chipmakers and OEMs
Cree and ON Semiconductor have announced the execution of a multi-year agreement. Cree will produce and supply its Wolfspeed silicon carbide wafers to ON Semiconductor. The agreement, valued at more than $85 million, provides for the supply of Cree’s 150mm silicon carbide (SiC) bare and epitaxial wafers to ON Semiconductor for use in electric vehicles and industrial applications.

GTAT and GlobalWafers (GWC) have entered into a long-term agreement and will forge a new source of supply of SiC wafers. Silicon wafer maker GWC will now add 150mm SiC wafers to its offering, manufactured from bulk SiC crystal produced by GTAT.

Cadence Design Systems and United Microelectronics Corp. have announced that Cadence’s analog/mixed-signal IC design flow has achieved certification for UMC’s 28HPC+ process technology.

Broadcom announced an agreement to acquire the enterprise security business of Symantec for $10.7 billion in cash. The addition of Symantec’s enterprise security portfolio will expand Broadcom’s infrastructure software footprint.

Diodes has entered into an agreement to acquire Lite-On Semiconductor, a Taiwan-based supplier of power discrete and analog semiconductor devices.

Exo Imaging, which is developing an ultrasound platform based on piezoelectric micromachined ultrasonic transducers (pMUT) technology, has announced a $35 million Series B financing round. Intel Capital led the funding. Other investors in Exo include: Applied Ventures, Bold Capital, Creative Ventures, Longevity Vision Fund, Magnetar Capital, Nautilus Venture Partners, OSF Healthcare, Rising Tide Fund, Sony Innovation Fund, and Wanxiang Healthcare Investments.

Western Digital (WD) has announced that Martin Fink, executive vice president and chief technology officer, will be transitioning to retirement and moving to an advisory role with the company. Siva Sivaram, executive vice president of Silicon Technology and Manufacturing at WD, has been appointed to the newly created role of president of technology and strategy.

Arrow Electronics has teamed with IBM and National Instruments to offer a predictive maintenance suite that enables data-driven operations in factories, oil and gas plants, mines and other rugged environments.

Market research
IC Insights has listed the distribution of growth rates for 33 IC product categories in 2018 and a forecast for 2019. Some 76% of IC products groups are expected to see either flat or negative growth in 2019, according to IC Insights. “After flying high for two years, DRAM sales growth is forecast to rank last in 2019, worst among all IC categories; NAND flash sales decline (are) close behind,” according to the firm.


In the second quarter, Intel maintained its position as the world’s largest semiconductor supplier. But Samsung managed to close the gap due to renewed growth in some key memory products, according to IHS Markit.

Intel extended its leadership reign for the third consecutive quarter with revenue of $15.5 billion in the second quarter, according to IHS Markit. In comparison, Samsung posted chip revenue just short of $13 billion in the second quarter.

“Despite the fact that the memory chip market remains pressured by falling prices, weak demand and excess inventory, Samsung in the second quarter managed to find some growth opportunities for its memory products,” said Ron Ellwanger, senior analyst, semiconductor manufacturing at IHS Markit. “Samsung has started to see some recovery in NAND and DRAM memory due to strong demand for its high-density products from the mobile and storage segments. NAND sales specifically are benefitting from the higher adoption of solid-state drives (SSDs) in data centers and from the arrival of new smartphones that have expanded memory content.”

Find upcoming semiconductor industry events here, including the upcoming Hot Chips Conference (Aug 18-20) and SPIE Photomask Technology & EUV Lithography (Sept 15-19).

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