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Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Fab capacity leaders; data analytics; robots.

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Chipmakers and OEMs
IC Insights has released its rankings of the 25 largest wafer capacity leaders in terms of monthly installed capacity in 200mm-equivalents as of December 2019. Samsung was in first place, followed by TSMC, Micron, SK Hynix, and Kioxia, formerly Toshiba Memory, according to IC Insights.

Combined capacity of the top five companies represented 53% of total global wafer capacity at the end of 2019, according to IC Insights. In contrast, the top five capacity leaders in 2009 held 36% of worldwide capacity.

“The industry’s five biggest pure-play foundries—TSMC, GlobalFoundries, UMC, SMIC, and Powerchip (including Nexchip)—are each ranked among the top 12 capacity leaders,” according to IC Insights. “In total, these five foundries had a combined capacity of about 4.8 million wafers per month as of December 2019, representing about 24% of the total fab capacity in the world.”

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A superseding indictment was returned in a U.S. federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, and two U.S. subsidiaries with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

Faraday Technology, an ASIC design service and IP provider, has announced that one of its ASIC platforms has delivered more than 10 projects. These demonstrated solutions span UMC’s process technologies from 55nm to 28nm. They include edge applications in audio and vision recognition, smart wearable devices and smart home appliances.

TSMC has approved capital appropriations of approximately $6.742 billion for fab expansions. Meanwhile, SMIC will double its capital spending in 2020, according to a report from Nikkei. “The company nearly doubled its capex to $3.1 billion for 2020, from $1.6 billion last year, mainly to continue investing in advanced technologies,” according to Nikkei.

Fab tools
PDF Solutions has announced a new agreement to continue its partnership with TIBCO Software. Today, semiconductor companies make use of PDF’s Exensio Analytics Platform. This includes the capabilities of TIBCO’s Spotfire, which provides engineers and data scientists with an environment for advanced analytics. The extension of this deal will provide current and future PDF Solutions’ customers with even greater analytic and machine-learning capabilities.

PDF Solutions reported its financial results for its fourth quarter and full year ended Dec. 31, 2019. Total revenues for the fourth quarter of 2019 were $22.6 million, compared to $21.9 million for the third quarter of 2019 and $19.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2018. In addition, PDF Solutions has announced the appointment of Adnan Raza as chief financial officer. Raza is currently executive vice president of finance with PDF. Raza will succeed Christine Russell, who will focus on board services for technology companies. Russell will continue with the company in a part-time role for a period of time to support a seamless transition.

Veeco has reported its financial results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2019. Revenues were $113.2 million for the quarter, compared with $99.0 million in the same period last year. “Our data storage business continued its solid performance. Furthermore, we are positioning the company for long-term growth in the front-end semiconductor, advanced packaging and compound semiconductor markets by executing on our product roadmaps,” commented William J. Miller, chief executive of Veeco.

KLA has announced the appointment of Marie Myers to its board. Myers also currently serves on the board of directors of F5 Networks.

SEMI president and CEO Ajit Manocha will be inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame on Feb. 19. The Silicon Valley Engineering Council (SVEC) is honoring Manocha for championing industry collaboration and driving manufacturing efficiency in multiple leadership roles.

Packaging and test
For the fourth quarter, ASE’s sales were up 2% year-over-year and down by 1% sequentially. For 2019, ASE spent $1.575 billion in capital expenditures. For 2020, ASE’s capital spending will not exceed the 2019 number. ASE talks about business conditions and the impact of the coronavirus here.

FormFactor recently reported its financial results for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019 ended Dec. 28, 2019. Quarterly revenues were $178.6 million, up 27.0% from $140.6 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2019 and up 26.8% from $140.9 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2018. For fiscal 2019, FormFactor posted revenues of $589.5 million, up 11.3% from $529.7 million in fiscal 2018.

Xperi has entered into a new patent and technology license agreement with SK Hynix. The agreement includes access to Xperi’s portfolio of intellectual property (IP) and a technology transfer of Invensas’ DBI Ultra 3D interconnect technology focused on next-generation memory.

Market research
In 2019, North American robot unit orders were up 1.6% compared to 2018 results, with 29,988 robotic units ordered, according to the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3).

Order revenue for 2019 was down 1.3%, closing the year with $1.681 billion, according to A3. The largest driver of the growth was a 50.5% increase in orders from automotive OEMs and a 16.6% increase from the plastics and rubber industry.

The fourth quarter of 2019 was the weakest quarter of the year. “While 2019 was a challenging year, and the outlook for growth in 2020 is murky, we’re still seeing growing interest in automation technologies and solutions that will lead to continued future growth,” said Jeff Burnstein, A3 & RIA president.

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