Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Fab fires, blackouts; U.S. blocks EUV sale in PRC; i5G.


A fire broke out this week at a joint NAND flash fab between Western Digital (WD) and Kioxia. Kioxia is the former Toshiba NAND flash unit that was recently spun out by the Japanese company. “On Monday, January 6, (morning, January 7 local time) a small fire occurred at one of our joint venture facilities in Yokkaichi, Japan. Local firefighters quickly extinguished the fire, and we are thankful for their rapid response. No employees were injured. Some fab operations were partially interrupted for a brief period and we closely worked with our JV partner to promptly bring the fab back to normal operational status. As of yesterday, operations are largely back to normal. We expect any supply impact to be minimal,” according to a statement from WD.

Recently, Samsung’s chip output was briefly halted due to a short blackout in a fab in South Korea, according to a report from Reuters. As a result, DRAM contract prices are expected to rise in the first quarter of 2020, as the power outage at the Samsung fab spurred demand, according to TrendForce.

Diodes provided an update related to the status of its acquisition of Lite-On. Diodes has been working through the final process of securing the required regulatory approvals in both Taiwan and China.

Volterra Semiconductor, a subsidiary of Maxim Integrated Products, has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware against Monolithic Power Systems (MPS). The complaint asserts that MPS’ DC-to-DC power converters infringe multiple Volterra patents.

Fab tools
Not long ago, ASML obtained an order for an extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography tool from a Chinese customer, reportedly SMIC. According to a new report, the Trump administration has recently blocked the sale.

Entegris has acquired Sinmat, a CMP slurry manufacturer. Entegris acquired Sinmat for approximately $75 million in cash, subject to customary purchase price adjustments.

In a blog, Coventor discussed an efficient technique to develop new process steps faster, with much less effort.

NextFlex, a flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) effort, has announced $12 million in funding for seven projects. This is part of its Project Call 4.0 effort to promote FHE adoption and development in the U.S. This latest round of funding brings the total amount invested in FHE developments to $88.6 million.

OptimalPlus has announced the migration of its products to Amazon Web Services (AWS). This combines key AWS components with OptimalPlus’ analytics platform. OptimalPlus supports customers who are interested in running on AWS.

Market research
The smartphone market is expected to grow by 3% in terms of units in 2020, according to Cowen and Co. “We expect 2020 smartphone units could increase +3% Y/Y to 1.42B units (5G: ~200M) after -2% in 2019 to 1.38B,” said Krish Sankar, an analyst at Cowen, in a research note. “We attribute the Y/Y increase in global demand to the rollout of 5G cellular services in major geographies driving the first phase of a multi-year consumer upgrade cycle.”

Apple’s iPhone 5G is expected to be a hit, according to Cowen. “We anticipate an aging iPhone installed base that exceeds 4.5-years and consumers looking for the latest technology will result in healthy replacement demand for a 5G-enabled product family. We expect a 5G model could help drive Y/Y growth in units for the first time since CY15. However, we are not expecting a ‘super cycle’ and model for CY20 units of 197M, +3% Y/Y,” Sankar said.

In a video, Roskill analyst Ying Lu says a combination of expansions and new projects will be required if cobalt supply is to meet future demand.

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Allen says:

Thank you, this is summary is my favorite and I look forward to reading it. It captures a good cross section of events and developments.

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