The Week In Review: Manufacturing & Design

Intel’s foundry ambitions; Al Gore’s foundry connections; GF’s stacked die efforts; Applied talks technology.

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Intel is getting serious about the foundry business.  “Intel CEO Brian Krzanich is making some waves. This is not because Intel is becoming more market driven, but that Intel will open its foundry to ‘any’ company able to utilize the company’s leading-edge technology. It’s very refreshing to see Intel make this move and could have important implications for the industry. Based on Intel’s new position, we would not be surprised to see Intel engaging with companies such as Nvidia and Qualcomm. Intel’s new move should pressure foundry players TSMC, Samsung, and GlobalFoundries,” said Hans Mosesmann, an analyst with Raymond James, in a research note.

Intel will now engage with foundry customers that have products based on competitive ARM chips. Asked to comment on potential ARM-based foundry customers, William Holt, executive vice president and general manager for the Technology and Manufacturing Group at Intel, said: “We are open to proposals.”

Intel also provided an update on its 14nm process, which has been delayed due to yield issues. “(Intel is) making good progress on yield learning. The yield that was low in the past year reduced good units available in the market. These problems are now largely in the rear-view (mirror). The company is achieving performance improvements with improving reliability. Expect a 2014 ramp with a competitive offering,” said Doug Freedman, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets.

GlobalFoundries is preparing to make Apple‘s iPhone and iPad chips at its fab in New York, according to The Times Union. Samsung will help with the launch. Apparently, GlobalFoundries managed to get the business with help from political leaders, including Al Gore, according to The Times Union.

GlobalFoundries unveiled details of a project that demonstrates its die-stacking technologies. The company, in partnership with Open-Silicon  and Amkor Technology, jointly exhibited a functional system-on-chip (SoC) solution featuring two 28nm logic chips, with embedded ARM processors, connected across a 2.5D silicon interposer.

During a presentation at an event, Bob Halliday, Applied Materials’ chief financial officer, outlined the company’s future prospects and various  technology trends.

Dean Kamen, holder of nearly 500 U.S. and foreign patents for medical devices that have expanded the frontiers of healthcare worldwide, and founder of FIRST an organization dedicated to motivating youth to understand science and technology, has been named the tenth recipient of the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award.

Terry Brewer, president and founder of Brewer Science, who also serves as a member of the SEMI North America Advisory Board (NAAB), testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to give his views on the need for federal government support of advanced manufacturing.

North American-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted a book-to-bill ratio of 1.05 in October, according to SEMI. That compares to a ratio of 0.97 in September.

Soitec announced that Focusic New Energy Holding has secured a loan for 200 million Yuan ($32.7 million) from the China Development Bank (CDB) to finance a 20-megawatt CPV project in Hami. Focusic, a Chinese developer of renewable-energy power plants, is building the 20-megawatt power plant in partnership with Soitec. Soitec will supply its  dual-axis CPV systems for the project.

Two photomask rivals are forming a joint venture in Taiwan. Photronics announced an agreement with Dai Nippon Printing (DNP) to merge Photronics Semiconductor Mask Corp. (PSMC), a subsidiary of Photronics, with DNP Photomask Technology Taiwan, a subsidiary of DNP. The joint venture will serve semiconductor manufacturers in Taiwan. Photronics and DNP will own 50.01% and 49.99% of the joint venture, respectively. It will operate under the name Photronics DNP Mask Corp.

Integrated Device Technology has achieved JESD204B interoperability between Xilinx’ JESD204 LogiCORE IP in the Kintex-7 FPGA and IDT’s ADC1443D/ ADC1453D analog-to-digital (ADC) and DAC1658D/DAC1653D digital-to-analog (DAC) data converter products.

Despite the hype surrounding smart watches, they are unlikely to be featured on many consumers’ holiday wish lists this year, according to Gartner. Gartner said that premium pricing paired with an unclear value proposition will steer consumers’ spending toward tablets and fitness bands, leading to lackluster sales of smart watches this holiday season.