Week In Review: Semiconductor Manufacturing, Test

Wafer shipments hit record high, outlook positive; GM cuts deal with GF for on-shore chips; Brewer Science uncorks new gap-fill material; Huawei’s patent workaround; education build-out for talent.


Chips for consumer devices are down, but the overall chip industry is actively preparing for the next phase of growth. Worldwide silicon wafer shipments, which are an aggregate view of all the various semiconductor segments, hit an all-time high in 2022, increasing 4% to 14,713 million square inches (MSI). Wafer revenue, meanwhile, rose 9.5% to $13.8 billion over the same period, SEMI reported in its year-end analysis of the silicon wafer industry.

Drilling down into the various segments is more complicated. Memory was a weak spot in the earnings report, largely due to a slowdown in consumer electronics caused by people returning to work in offices and market saturation. But the backlog in chip demand in markets such as automotive has kept manufacturing lines humming. All of the major foundries reported solid growth, and with massive government investment, that should continue for the foreseeable future.

Longer term, the picture is less confusing. The SIA noted that despite a short-term cyclical downturn, the global semiconductor market’s long-term outlook is strong. Even memory is poised for longer-term growth. The total DRAM module market is forecast to reach about US$96 billion in 2028, with a 16% CAGR between 2022 and 2028, according to Yole Research’s new memory report, DRAM Modules 2023.


General Motors and GlobalFoundries announced a long-term deal for the automaker to secure U.S.-made processors, preventing the factory-halting chip shortages that kept millions of cars from being manufactured or sold during the pandemic.

A TSMC-Sony joint venture is revitalizing the economy of Japan’s large southwestern island, Kyushu, which is home to a large and diversified high-tech industry. Called Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing (JASM), the venture also includes Denso, an auto part maker for Toyota Group, which will produce logic ICs for Sony, Denso, and other Japanese customers.

GlobalFoundries acquired RenesasConductive Bridging Random Access Memory (CBRAM) technology. CBRAM is a non-volatile, low-power memory designed for range of applications in the home, industrial IoT, and smart mobile devices. CBRAM is currently being qualified on the company’s 22FDX platform, with plans to extend it to other platforms.

MACOM agreed to acquire the assets and operations of OMMIC, a French semiconductor manufacturer with expertise in wafer fabrication, epitaxial growth, and monolithic microwave integrated circuit (“MMIC”) processing and design.


Brewer Science announced the launch of OptiStack PL200, a silicon-rich, high-aspect-ratio gap-fill material designed to provide superior planarization, solving problems faced in sacrificial gap-fill applications at the transistor level and BEOL metallization.

IBM introduced Vela, its first AI-optimized, cloud-native supercomputer. In addition to fresh thinking about hardware, AI is causing the industry to consider disaggregating operating systems.

Business and geopolitics

The Biden administration is preparing new rules that would restrict U.S. dollars from flowing to China, which could go into effect potentially within two months, the New York Times reported. This time, the U.S. government appears poised to extend its restrictions to a new area: American dollars that are used to finance the development of such technologies within Chinese borders.

Japan’s government will begin restricting exports of advanced semiconductor manufacturing equipment to China in the spring, after it amends a foreign exchange law to allow the change, Reuters reported.

Huawei is turning to patents for a lifeline as the company seeks to route around the export restrictions, according to CNBC.  In 2022, the company signed more than 20 new or extended licensing agreements for its patents and 11,000 patent applications.

The once-robust memory chip trade between China and South Korea shows signs of cracking, according to a report in the South China Morning Post. “If the US imposes sanctions on Korean companies [for doing business in China]…it will be difficult to go against them,” said Kim Yang-paeng, a senior researcher with the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade.

AMD captured nearly a third of the CPU market in Q4 2022, according to Reuters.


TSMC announced its “TSMC University FinFET Program,” aimed at developing future IC design talent. The program will provide broad educational access for university students, faculty, and academic researchers to 16nm finFET PDKs.

Also on the education front, SEMI announced SEMI University, with more than 360 courses created for the industry, providing easy-to-use online semiconductor training. The course are geared toward employees ranging from recently hired facility operators to experienced technicians, engineers, and non-technical staff.

SEMI also announced the election of the Semiconductor Climate Consortium (SCC) Governing Council and its chair and vice-chair. Members of the SCC Governing Council include:

  • John Golightly, SCC Chair, Sr. Director Sustainability, Climate, Global EH&S, ASM
  • James Larsen, SCC Vice-Chair, Supply Chain Responsibility Environmental Program Manager, Intel
  • Chris Librie, Senior Director – ESG, Applied Materials
  • Young Bae, Global Business Director, Advanced Cleans Technologies, DuPont
  • Bruce Gall, Strategic Partnerships Manager, Google
  • Claire HyunJung Seo, Corporate Sustainability Vice President, Samsung Electronics
  • Dallal Slimani, Vice President Semiconductor Segment, Schneider Electric

A team at the University of Michigan has demonstrated ferroelectric Sc0.3Al0.7N (ScAlN) films (ScAlN) films grown on molybdenum substrates. Ferroelectrics can sustain an electrical polarization, as well as switch which end is positive and which is negative. “These ferroelectric devices could be self-powered,” said Zetian Mi, UM professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Further reading

Find the latest information on hunting for hardware-related errors; bump reliability and latent defects; and other topics in our Test, Measurement & Analytics Newsletter:

Check out a special report on good interconnects and other stories in our Manufacturing, Packaging & Materials newsletter:

Upcoming events:

  • ISS Europe, Feb. 15 – 16 (Vienna, Austria)
  • ISSCC 2023 International Solid-State Circuits Conference, Feb. 19 – 23 (San Francisco, CA)
  • SPIE Advanced Lithography + Patterning, Feb. 26 – March 2 (San Jose, CA)
  • iMAPS Device Packaging, March 13 – 16 (Fountain Hills, Arizona)

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