Week In Review: Semiconductor Manufacturing, Test

China bans Micron chips; North American Semiconductor Conference formed; Applied Materials plans $4 billion R&D shop; Apple and Broadcom 5G deal; DRAM revenues drop; new low-resistivity alloy for interconnects below 10nm.


The Cyberspace Administration of China recommended a ban of Micron chips for critical information infrastructure (CII), alleging serious network security risks. According to a statement from China’s Network Security Review Office, “Micron’s products have relatively serious potential network security issues, which pose a major security risk to [China’s] critical information infrastructure supply chain … China should stop purchasing Micron products.” [Google translation].

The move is the latest in an ongoing list of restrictions by both the U.S. and China involving semiconductor technology. Japan, which has sided with the U.S., announced it will add 23 items, including advanced semiconductor manufacturing equipment, to its list of regulated exports to China beginning July 23, according to Nikkei Asia.

Meanwhile, the United States, Mexico, and Canada announced the formation of the North American Semiconductor Conference (NASC) for the collaboration and joint development of semiconductor manufacturing and a shared commitment by government, industry, and academia to work together to strengthen the resilience of the North American semiconductor supply chain. The NASC was organized with the support of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and Arizona State University.

Great Britain released its semiconductor industry development package of £1 billion ($1.2 billion) in government investment over the next decade. The UK package is much smaller than both the US and EU programs, and will be focused on R&D, design, and intellectual property for cutting-edge compound semiconductors, reports AP.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) released an interactive map of semiconductor fab investments from Samsung, Intel, and TSMC around the world. Together the three firms announced $220 billion in fabs and capital equipment for 2021 and 2022. The map can be viewed here.

Applied Materials announced a $4 billion investment for the construction of a new R&D facility in Silicon Valley for semiconductor technology innovation and commercialization in collaboration with chipmakers, universities, and ecosystem partners.

Apple announced a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar deal with Broadcom to develop 5G radio frequency components — including FBAR filters — and cutting-edge wireless connectivity components in U.S. manufacturing facilities. The deal is part of a commitment Apple made in 2021 to invest $430 billion in the U.S. economy over five years.

The global semiconductor packaging materials market is expected to reach US$29.8 billion by 2027, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.7% from the US$26.1 billion in revenue it logged in 2022, according to a new report from SEMI. The increased demand is being driven by high-performance applications, 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and the adoption of heterogeneous integration and system-in-package (SiP) technologies.

DRAM industry revenues continued their decline for the third consecutive quarter with a precipitous drop of 21.2% quarter-over-quarter in Q1, reports Trendforce. The industry is expecting a gradual slowing in the rate of price decline following planned production cuts and a rise in shipments for Q2.

Micron announced the launch of the U.S.-Japan University Partnership for Workforce Advancement and Research & Development in Semiconductors (UPWARDS) for the Future, aimed at cultivating a more robust and highly-skilled semiconductor workforce for the two countries. Separately, TEL announced it will participate in the UPWARDS partnership.

Synopsys announced it has been named by Gartner as a Leader in the “Magic Quadrant for Application Security Testing” for the seventh consecutive year.


Infineon announced the acquisition of Tiny Machine Learning (TML) company Imagimob AB to complement its AI offerings. Imagimob provides an end-to-end machine learning toolchain that is flexible and easy to use with a strong focus on delivering production-grade ML models.

proteanTecs and CEVA announced a new partnership to optimize the reliability and power/performance of their joint customers’ complex system-on-chips (SoCs).

Transphorm announced it has been awarded a contract for up to $15 million from the National Security Technology Accelerator (NSTXL) for the ECLIPSE Project, under which Transphorm is commissioned to manufacture advanced GaN epiwafers.


IBM announced a 10-year, $100 million initiative with the University of Tokyo and the University of Chicago to develop a quantum-centric supercomputer powered by 100,000 qubits.

Keysight introduced the first midrange vector network analyzer (VNA) that produces fast, accurate error vector magnitude (EVM) measurements and accelerates the characterization of 5G component designs by up to 50%.

Brewer Science and imec will present new process solutions for CVD oxide deposition processes on ultrathin wafers at the electronic components and technology conference (ECTC) next week in Orlando, Florida.


In a breakthrough for the problem of rising resistivity of copper and ruthenium interconnects at dimensions below 10nm, imec announced the first experimental evidence showing resistivity as low as 11.5 µWcm of a 7.7nm alloy of nickel and aluminum (NiAl) film on a 300mm silicon wafer, enabling lower resistance and singal delay for 10nm lines.

Resistivity of NiAl binary alloy benchmarked against Cu and PVD Ru (left), TEMs of 7.7nm NiAl films as-deposited at 420°C, with 13nm grain size (middle), and after thinning a 50nm film, achieving 45.7nm grain size. Source: imec

NIST announced the development of a graphene-based Gateless P-N junction metrolog, a device for resistance metrology that allows output of many different quantum resistors, like a variable resistor. Using UV lithography and epitaxial deposited graphene on silicon carbide, the patented technology is available for license and may be well suited to mass production.

Further reading

See our Manufacturing, Packaging and Materials newsletter for these feature articles:

  • Etch Processes Push Toward Higher Selectivity, Cost Control
  • Challenges Grow for Creating Smaller Bumps for Flip Chips
  • Managing Yield with EUV Lithography and Stochastics

Read our Test, Measurement & Analytics newsletter for these highlights and more:

  • How Metrology Tool Stack Up to 3D NAND Devices
  • Pinpointing Timing Delays Can Improve Chip Reliability
  • 3D Structures Change Wire Bond Inspection
  • Optimizing Scan Test for Complex ICs

Upcoming events in the chip industry:

  • ECTC (Electronic Components and Technology Conference), May 30 – June 2 (Orlando, FL)
  • SW Test 2023, June 5 – 7 (Carlsbad, CA)European Mask and Lithography Conference, June 19 — 21 (Dresden, Germany)
  • Design Automation Conference, July 9 – 13 (San Francisco, CA)
  • Semicon West, July 11 – 13 (San Francisco, CA)


Paul Clifton says:

Let’s just contemplate these factoids for a second and we will understand why so much British semiconductor talent resides in Silicon Valley:
Great Britain released its semiconductor industry development package of $1.2 billion in government investment over the next decade. Meanwhile, Applied Materials announced a $4 billion investment for the construction of a new R&D facility in Silicon Valley for semiconductor technology innovation.

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