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Week In Review: Semiconductor Manufacturing, Test

Upcoming fall-out from U.S. trade controls, ASML considering M&As, Sony invests in Thailand, Canada cracks down on China, Indium deposits in U.S.

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Chinese memory chip maker YMTC and dozens of other Chinese entities are “at risk” of being added to a trade blacklist as soon as Dec. 6, a U.S. Commerce Department official said in prepared remarks seen by Reuters.

SMIC co-CEO Zhao Haijun said on an earnings call that recent export controls from the United States will have an “adverse impact” on the company’s production.

The U.K. has ruled that last year’s purchase of Newport Wafer Fab by the Chinese-owned Dutch firm Nexperia is a security risk and has ordered Nexperia to sell it. Nexperia says it will appeal.

ASML considers M&A to meet demand for advanced chipmaking, according to Bloomberg. The Wall Street Journal reported ASML is continuing an investment streak, projecting its annual capital expenditures would hit €1.5 billion (U.S. $1.55 billion) by 2025, a 50% jump from the target it gave a year ago. ASML now plans to produce about 90 units of its high-end EUV lithography tools in 2025, 50% more than it expects to produce next year.

The United States military has been soliciting applications for Canadian mining projects that want American public funding. This comes at a moment when Canada is cracking down on foreign investment in mining, which hurts Chinese stakeholders.

A group of eight leading Japanese companies, including Toyota Motor and Sony Group will team up with the Japanese government to launch a new entity to develop and make next-generation semiconductors, according to one report. The companies are aiming to establish manufacturing processes by the late 2020s. Denso, NTT, Kioxa, NEC, and SoftBank each contributed 1B yen ($6.8M). The group is headed by Tetsuro Hitashi, former president of TEL.

Qualcomm will continue using multiple foundries, including Samsung, TSMC, and GlobalFoundries, to manufacture its chips, said Qualcomm senior vice president Don McGuire during the company’s Snapdragon Summit 2022.

Sony Semiconductor Solutions will invest approximately 10 billion yen ($70.7 million) to construct a new facility in central Thailand. Work is already underway, and the plant will begin operating in the fiscal year ending March 2025, Nikkei reports.

LG Display has developed a film-like display that can be pulled, folded and twisted without any distortion to high-resolution images, according to Nikkei. The display has a stretchability of about 20% thanks to a substrate made of the same kind of material used in soft contact lenses.

The U.S. has awarded the Utah Geological Survey a $300,000 grant to evaluate deposits of indium-bearing minerals in western Juab County, Utah, over the next three years. It could become a source for zinc, copper, and lithium.

Manufacturing

Lam Research has acquired SEMSYSCO. This gives Lam capabilities in advanced packaging, including a state-of-the-art R&D facility in Austria focused on next-generation substrates and heterogeneous packaging. “The strategic acquisition of SEMSYSCO furthers our commitment to help chipmakers address their emerging technology challenges, adding deep capabilities in advanced substrates and packaging processes,” said Tim Archer, president and chief executive officer at Lam Research.

ACM Research expects to ship the first Ultra Track Coater/Developer ArF tool to a domestic Chinese customer in a few weeks, and an i-line model in 2023, and has begun development of a KrF model.

Micron is reducing DRAM and NAND wafer starts by approximately 20% versus fiscal fourth quarter 2022. Meanwhile, it’s also starting mass production of its new high capacity, low power 1-beta DRAM chips at its plant in Hiroshima, Japan.

Intel must pay VLSI Technology $948.8 million for infringing a VLSI patent regarding improvements to data processing on Intel’s Cascade Lake and Skylake microprocessors.

Plasma-Therm’s Grenoble, France location will now serve as regional headquarters to support customers located in central Europe, Middle East and North Africa (EMEA).

Renesas is expanding its low-power WAN product line with NB-IoT-capable wireless modules. Hundreds of its radiation-hardened ICs, including over 50 different part numbers, are onboard the Artemis 1 launch.

Test

 Montage Technology selected PDF Solutions‘ Exensio Fabless for its yield data analysis platform.

PITC launched a metrology program to reduce the cost of photonic chips. “Our ambition is to reduce product development cycles by three months through enabling ‘right first time’ design, thus preventing unnecessary and costly design iterations,” said Sylwester Latkowski, scientific director of PITC.

Research

Premium smartphone (>$400) shipments grew 29% YoY, while the <$200 price band shipments fell 24%.

The compound semiconductor substrate market is strongly driven by power and photonics applications, according to Yole, which projects a $2.4 billion market by 2027.

Engineers at Caltech and the University of Southampton in England have designed an electronics chip integrated with a photonics chip (which uses light to transfer data)—creating a cohesive final product capable of transmitting information at ultrahigh speed while generating minimal heat.

NIST researchers have created grids of quantum dots and studied what happens when electrons dive into them. Measuring the behavior of electrons in these relatively simple setups promises deep insights into how electrons behave in complex real-world materials.

Further reading

See who’s spending what in semiconductors, and check out imec’s prospects for microfluidics, in the latest Manufacturing, Packaging & Materials newsletter:

Check out our latest Test, Measurement & Analytics Newsletter for these highlights and more:

Upcoming events:

  • Materials Research Society, Nov. 27-Dec. 2 (Boston, MA)
  • BIOMEDevice Silicon Valley, Nov. 29-30 (Santa Clara, CA)
  • Memory Technology Symposium, Nov. 29-30 (Virtual)
  • Nepcon South China, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 (Shanghai, China)
  • IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting, Dec. 3-7 (San Francisco, CA)
  • Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS 2023), Jan. 8-11, 2023 (Half Moon Bay, CA)
  • First Annual Chiplet Summit, Jan. 24-26, 2023 (San Jose, CA)


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