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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

UMC rolls 22nm; Lam’s edge tools; design house rankings.

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Chipmakers
United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) has announced the readiness of its new 22nm process. The process enables new 22nm designs or allows customers to migrate from 28nm to 22nm. UMC’s 22nm maintains its existing 28nm design architectures.

UMC’s 22nm process features a 10% area reduction, better power-to-performance ratio and enhanced RF capabilities, compared to the company’s 28nm high-k/metal gate process. The 22nm offerings include 22uLP (ultra Low and 22uLL (ultra Low Leakage) technologies. The 22nm platform is ideal for several applications, including consumers ICs for set top boxes, digital TVs, surveillance, power or leakage sensitive IoT chips and wearable products. “UMC continues to introduce new specialty process offerings to serve the rapidly growing markets in 5G, IoT, and automotive ICs,” said Y.H. Chen, director of the IP Development and Design Support division at UMC.

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Analog Devices (ADI) has filed a patent infringement suit against Xilinx. The lawsuit focuses on the alleged use by Xilinx of several ADI patents relating to converter technology in at least two of Xilinx’ products.

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) office has awarded BRIDG its first major federal defense contract valued at up to more than $20 million to provide a new technology for next generation microelectronic multi-chip systems.

Fab tools and analytics
Lam Research has rolled out some new systems that improve device yield at the edge of the wafer. The systems include the Corvus etch and Coronus plasma bevel clean systems. Corvus helps smooth out extreme edge discontinuities. Coronus improves device yield by removing defect sources from the bevel region.

In IC production, chipmakers want to build devices on the entire surface of the wafer. On the edge of the wafer, though, chemical, physical and thermal discontinuities are harder to control. “Substantially increasing yield at the edge of a wafer is a significant factor in terms of reducing costs at advanced nodes,” said Vahid Vahedi, senior vice president and general manager of the Etch product group at Lam Research.

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ACM Research has announced the commercial readiness of a tool that combines bench and single-wafer cleaning in an integrated system. The system, called the Ultra C Tahoe, is designed for photoresist stripping and post-etch, post-implant and post-CMP cleans. It improves process performance, provides a cost savings on chemicals, and reduces sulfuric acid waste generation.

“Sulfuric acid waste treatment is a major challenge in advanced IC manufacturing. For example, semiconductor plants account for more than half of the total sulfuric acid used in Taiwan,” said David Wang, chief executive of ACM Research. “Bench cleaning alone cannot achieve the required performance for 28nm nodes and beyond. While the shift to single wafer cleaning improved performance, it dramatically increased sulfuric acid consumption and now requires dangerous, energy-intensive disposal methods that are harmful to the environment. ACM Research developed the proprietary Tahoe system to deliver the high cleaning performance and process flexibility that customers expect from single-wafer cleaning, but with a fraction of the chemical consumption.”

Separately, ACM Research’s subsidiary in Shanghai has entered into an agreement to initiate a bidding process to acquire land rights in the Shanghai, Lingang region. If the process is completed, ACM Shanghai would construct a new R&D center and production facility on the land.

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Yield management software provider yieldHUB has announced a new partnership with Movandi. Movandi is a venture-backed fabless startup in the wireless arena.

PDF Solutions reported its results. Total revenues for the third fiscal quarter of 2019 were $21.9 million, compared to $20.6 million for the second fiscal quarter of 2019 and $20.2 million for the third fiscal quarter of 2018.

Test
Denso has selected OptimalPlus to provide lifecycle analytics for its semiconductor manufacturing division. OptimalPlus’ solutions will be used by the Denso, which develops advanced technology and components for vehicles on the road. This in turn will drive improvements in key metrics such as yield, reliability, efficiency and cost.

Cadence signed a deal to buy National Instruments’ AWR business unit for about $160 million in cash, a move that Cadence describes as a way to broaden its market into intelligent system design.

Market research
TrendForce has released its top 10 IC design company rankings in terms of sales in the third quarter. Broadcom is leading the pack, followed by Qualcomm and Nvidia. Most design companies suffered from declining sales in the period.

Worldwide semiconductor equipment manufacturers posted third-quarter 2019 billings of $14.9 billion, a quarter-over-quarter increase of 12% but down 6% from the third quarter of 2018, according to SEMI.

Events
Check out upcoming industry events and conferences: Accellera will hold a Proposed Working Group meeting on a potential standard for FMEDA tool interoperability on Dec. 6 at NXP in Munich, Germany. The RISC-V Summit will include talks, an expo, and tutorials on the open ISA Dec. 10-12 in San Jose, CA. Next year, DesignCon will take place January 28-30 in Santa Clara, CA, with a focus on board and high-speed communications design.



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