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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

UMC fab; Intel memory expansion; chiplet mania.

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Chipmakers
United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) has satisfied all closing conditions for the full acquisition of Mie Fujitsu Semiconductor Ltd. (MIFS), the former 300mm wafer foundry joint venture between UMC and Fujitsu Semiconductor Ltd. (FSL). The completion of the acquisition is scheduled for Oct. 1.

In 2014, FSL and UMC agreed for UMC to acquire a 15.9% stake in MIFS from FSL through progressive phases. FSL is now cleared to transfer the remaining 84.1% of its shares in MIFS to UMC. The final transaction value is 54.4 billion yen. MIFS will be renamed as United Semiconductor Japan.

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Intel has expanded its efforts in memory. The company announced its second-generation Optane DC Persistent Memory, code-named “Barlow Pass,” which is scheduled for release in 2020. Some refer to this memory type as 3D XPoint. In addition, Intel has demonstrated a 144-layer QLC (quad level cell) 3D NAND device for data center solid-state drives (SSDs). The device is also expected in 2020.

GlobalFoundries has extended its 12nm finFET process line with the introduction of 12LP+, a new solution for AI training and inference applications. In addition, GlobalFoundries, Analog Bits and Aragio Solutions are collaborating to develop a portfolio of I/O libraries on GF’s 22nm FD-SOI platform. In addition, GlobalFoundries has named Michael Hogan as senior vice president and general manager of the company’s new automotive, industrial and multi-market (AIM) strategic business unit. Most recently, Hogan was the senior vice president and general manager of the IoT, Compute & Wireless business unit at Cypress Semiconductor.

GlobalFoundries is planning an initial public offering, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal and others. Here’s more details about the plan.

Steifpower Technology has chosen SkyWater as its manufacturing partner for discrete power devices. Specifically, the companies will collaborate to design and manufacture power MOSFETs, IGBTs and related power discrete devices, targeting tier 1 automotive customers.

Cree has revised its 200mm silicon carbide (SiC) fab plans. In May, Cree announced the 200mm SiC fab, which would be located at its U.S. campus headquarters in Durham, N.C. Now, the 200mm fab will not be located in Durham. Instead, the plant will be located in Marcy, N.Y. As part of a partnership with New York state, Cree will be investing approximately $1 billion in construction, equipment and other related costs for the New York fab. New York state will provide a $500 million grant from Empire State Development. Ramping in 2022, the size of the new facility will be up to 480,000 square-feet upon completion.

Packaging
Arm and TSMC have rolled out the industry’s first 7nm chiplet system. The system is based on multiple Arm cores and leveraging TSMC’s Chip-on-Wafer-on-Substrate (CoWoS) advanced packaging solution. This single proof-of-concept chiplet system demonstrates the key technologies for building a system-level design with Arm-based cores operating at 4GHz in a 7nm finFET process.

A group has announced details on the progress of a so-called Chiplet Design Exchange (CDX), a new workstream as part of the Open Compute Project (OCP) Open Domain-Specific Architecture (ODSA) subproject. The goal is to standardize design automation to help create a chiplet marketplace. Ayar Labs, Avera Semi, ASE, Cadence, Netronome, Sarcina and zGlue are part of the group.

Chiplet integration vendor zGlue has launched its so-called ChipletStore, an online portal comprising of chiplets. This is the industry’s first online library of chiplets with detailed design data, design tool, and manufacturing support for a range of applications from embedded devices to high-performance computing.

Fab tools
Yield management specialist yieldHUB has announced a new multi-year deal with Diodes. Diodes’ divisions in China, the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe will continue to use yieldHUB for all their yield management needs.

SEMI and SUNY Polytechnic Institute have been awarded a $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund workforce development initiatives for the IC manufacturing industry. The funding, to be provided over three years, will support the development and implementation of a semiconductor workforce certification program.

Market research
Yole Développement has taken a look at the memory market. “Combined DRAM and NAND revenue was $25.4 billion in Q2 2019, down 5% from Q1 and down 39% year-over-year as sluggish demand and elevated inventory levels continued to plague the memory markets”, said Simone Bertolazzi, an analyst at Yole.

Micron reported its results. “MU reiterated that it is seeing pockets of tight supply and it noted shortages in some leading-edge DRAM products. MU also indicated that inventory levels are improving faster than previously anticipated. Demand improvement is relatively broad-based (DRAM bit shipments grew 30% q/q), with cloud, GPU, and CPU highlighted as strong, along with some customers in China. While demand is improving, pricing remains soft as inventories continue to normalize. MU guided for modest q/q revenue improvement in F1Q but lower q/q EPS on softer GM; still, revenue, EPS, and GM were guided well above our prior estimates,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets, in a report.

Here’s bad news for U.S. chipmakers: “After discussions with Huawei, we believe the company has found alternatives to most U.S. RF solutions,” said Christopher Rolland, an analyst at Susquehanna, in a report. “There is a Chinese teardown of the Mate 30 5G making its rounds and garnering a lot of attention in the handset supply chain. In conclusion, the flagship handset uses very few American RF components (perhaps just a few QRVO and SWKS parts in the antenna tuning switch). To address 5G, the handset reportedly utilizes a Murata FEM. To address 4G, the handset reportedly utilizes a combination of both Murata and HiSilicon! While there is some debate about the components in the HiSilicon FEM, and where HiSilcon actually has the technical capabilities to do their own filtering, the part still garners its marking. We believe HiSilicon has been manufacturing a design of their own power amplifiers through Win Semi for some time now, but the full FEM would represent an increase in capabilities.”

Events
Find upcoming semiconductor industry events here.



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