Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

China’s DRAM efforts; foundry rankings; simulation JV.


China’s DRAM efforts
Two memory vendors from China, Tsinghua Unigroup and ChangXin Memory Technology, have disclosed more details about their respective efforts to enter the DRAM arena.

As reported, Tsinghua Unigroup wants to enter the DRAM business. Now, the China-based firm has secured land to build a new DRAM fab. The firm recently signed an agreement with the Chongqing government to establish an R&D center and a DRAM fab. The construction of these facilities, which will be located in Chongqing’s Liangjiang New Area, is scheduled to start near the end of 2019 and finish in 2021, according to a report from TrendForce, a research firm.

It’s unclear where Tsinghua will obtain its DRAM technology, but that’s not stopping China. “TrendForce believes this latest event is another indication of China’s unwavering determination to achieve self-sufficiency in the supply of memory products,” according to the firm. “The continuing escalation of the US-China trade dispute and the blacklisting of JHICC by the US government have compelled the Chinese government to redouble their efforts to build up a domestic DRAM industry.”

JHICC, a China-based DRAM hopeful, went under last year. In 2018, the U.S. restricted exports of equipment and software to JHICC. Then, UMC, the technology partner for JHICC, pulled out of the project.

Others are having more success. ChangXin Memory Technology, formerly known as Innotron, is readying 22nm DRAMs in a new 300mm fab in China. The company recently disclosed that it is developing DRAMs based on technology obtained from Qimonda. Qimonda, a DRAM vendor, went bankrupt in 2011.

ChangXin Memory Technology purchased the technology database from Qimonda. The China DRAM vendor will leverage Qimonda’s buried wordline and stacked capacitor technology in order to develop its DRAMs. This in turn will supposedly give the China company some IP protection. “We have been able to access their technology database,” according to officials from ChangXin Memory Technology. “The proper way to develop the technology has been to employ Qimonda’s buried wordline plus stacked capacitor technology.”

TrendForce has released its projected rankings for foundry vendors in the third quarter. Based on sales, TSMC, Samsung, and GlobalFoundries will again take first, second, and third place respectively, according to the firm. UMC is in fourth place. Here’s perhaps the best news: “The global demand for semiconductor components in the second half of the year will be noticeably stronger compared with the first half due to the effect of the traditional peak season,” according to the firm.

Teledyne Technologies has acquired Micralyne. Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Micralyne is a MEMS foundry. Micralyne possesses microfluidic technology for biotech applications, as well as capabilities in non-silicon-based MEMS.

Fab tools and analytics
In a blog, Lam Research made the case why the semiconductor industry needs to accelerate the 5G era. Lam also talks about 3D NAND and the new memory types.

Israel’s proteanTecs announced the expansion of its global presence with two new offices in the U.S., on both the West and East Coasts, and larger facilities for its corporate headquarters.

Energetiq, a supplier of high-brightness broadband light sources, is hosting a grand opening at its facility north of Boston, Mass. A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place on Sept. 10. Meanwhile, Edwards recently held a grand opening for its new North America Semiconductor Technology Center in Hillsboro, Ore.

National Instruments (NI) and ETAS GmbH said that antitrust authorities have approved the creation of their recently-announced joint venture. The new company, ETAS NI Systems GmbH & Co. KG, will design pre-integrated hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulation systems to help customers meet their needs in the evolving automotive sector. The joint venture, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, plans to employ 50 people. NI and ETAS each own 50% of the new company.

Teradyne has introduced the UltraFLEXplus, the latest member of the UltraFLEX family of testers. The tester includes Teradyne’s PACE architecture. The UltraFLEXplus addresses the emerging digital test requirements driven by the changes in AI and 5G.

Market research
300mm fab equipment spending will slowly recover in 2020 after the 2019 downturn, according to SEMI. In 2021, the market will see a new record high, topping $60 billion, only to lag again in 2022, according to SEMI.

Chip sales during the initial six months of 2019 plunged by 13.9% compared to a year earlier, the biggest drop in a half since the first half of 2009, according to IHS Markit. Global semiconductor revenue in the first half totaled $203.7 billion, down from $236.6 billion in the first half of 2018. The third quarter looks bad. So, 2019 remains on track to be the semiconductor market’s worst year in a decade, IHS Markit forecasts.

Find upcoming semiconductor industry events here, including SPIE Photomask Technology & EUV Lithography (Sept 15-19).

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