The Week In Review: Manufacturing & Design

Silver surfers; ARMing Intel; biggest SOI buyer; GF goes RF SOI; U.S. manufacturing.


Silver surfers represent a more important technology market than “Generation X” and “Generation Y,” according to research from Gartner. Silver surfers are people in middle age or approaching old age. Although most technologists fail to recognize this fact, they are very interested in using technology and also have the time and the resources to pursue their interests, according to Gartner. 

Altera announced that its Stratix 10 SoC devices, manufactured on Intel’s 14nm tri-gate process, will incorporate a quad-core, 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 processor system. In another words, Intel is making ARM chips in its foundry unit.  

RF chipmaker Skyworks Solutions reported a good quarter, thanks in part to demand from Apple. In a conference call, the company also claims to be the world’s largest buyer of SOI wafers for use in RF and other chip markets. “We ship over 100 million SOI and silicon germanium devices a quarter. So I think we’re probably the biggest procurer of SOI wafers. And we ship more than anybody, I think, in the market today. So we’re quite agnostic. We will ship SOI, silicon germanium. We will ship HBT. And we will ship pure bulk CMOS. Again, focusing on what’s the best process for the function where we will have a fair and a high return, and we can provide the appropriate level of integration for the customer,” said David Aldrich, CEO of Skyworks, on the Seeking Alpha Web site.

GlobalFoundries has entered the radio-frequency silicon-on-insulator (RF SOI) foundry business as part of an alliance with Peregrine Semiconductor. As part of the move, Peregrine is entering the RF SOI chip market in an effort to develop lower cost devices.   

Peregrine Semiconductor discusses the RF SOI technology and its recent earnings. The company saw weak demand from Apple.

Rubicon Technology, a provider of sapphire substrates and products to the LED, semiconductor, and optical industries, reported its financial results. The company reported that orders from its major silicon-on-sapphire (SoS) customer—Peregrine–are weak.   

Startup sureCore has taped out its low-power SRAM IP demonstrator chip in STMicroelectronics’ 28nm fully-depleted silicon-on-insulator (FDSOI) process. 

U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio) introduced the “Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013” this week. This is bipartisan legislation that would establish a Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NMI) to position the United States as the global leader in advanced manufacturing once again. Both the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and SEMI endorsed the legislation.

TSMC announced that Executive Vice President and Co-Chief Operating Officer, Shang-yi Chiang, retired from the company on Oct. 31.

Teradyne’s LitePoint subsidiary, a provider of wireless test solutions, has completed the acquisition of ZTEC Instruments, a manufacturer of modular wireless test products.  

ATMI  confirmed in response to media reports that it is exploring strategic alternatives for the company and has retained Barclays Capital as its financial advisor.

ABI Research reports 438 million handsets and 244 million smartphones were shipped during the third quarter of 2013. Samsung retained its lead in handset shipments and grew its share of smartphone shipments to 35%, while Apple’s share remained flat at 14%.  

Worldwide tablet shipments grew to 47.6 million units in the third quarter of 2013, according to IDC. While slightly below the firm’s forecast, the number still represents 7% growth over the previous quarter and 36.7% growth compared to the third quarter of 2012. Android-based products once again drove much of the shipment growth in the market, as iOS growth stalled and Windows tablets continued to struggle to win over consumers.  

Wireless network standards such as WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, and Z-Wave continue to create a dynamic market segment, according to IC Insights.

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