Week In Review: Manufacturing & Design

Oct. 21-25: Intel expands foundry biz; FD-SOI design wins; Applied on track; SEMI’s book-to-bill.

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Don’t look now, but Intel is expanding its foundry business. Previously, Intel garnered a small collection of foundry customers. But Intel would not entertain foundry customers that had competitive products based on ARM chips. Apparently, Intel is having a change of heart. “I think they’ve changed their position,” said Nathan Brookwood, a research fellow at Insight 64. “They will do ARM-based products.” For some time, Intel has been trying to woo Apple as a foundry customer, without much success. On the other hand, Intel won’t engage with every ARM-based chipmaker. Intel is mainly interested in a select few high-end foundry customers. Still, regarding ARM-based foundry customers, “Intel will now say: ‘Let’s talk about terms and conditions,’ ‘’ Brookwood said.

As expected, Applied Materials will divest its stake in Sokudo as a result of Applied’s recently proposed acquisition of Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TEL). At one time, Applied had a wafer track venture with Dainippon Screen, dubbed Sokudo. But in 2009, Applied backed away from the business and reduced its stake in Sokudo from 48% to 18%. Now, Applied has divested its 18% stake in the venture. With the proposed acquisition of TEL, Applied will instead focus on selling TEL’s track lines.

In a conference call to discuss its earnings, STMicroelectronics said it has added two new design wins for its 28nm FD-SOI technology. The undisclosed customers are involved in networking and consumer applications.

In a conference call to discuss its earnings, RF Micro Devices said it has big plans with RF SOI. On the Seeking Alpha Web site, Steven Creviston, corporate vice president and president of Cellular Products Group, said: “So we still see a lot of opportunities for the SOI product. Of course, antenna control, tuners and so forth, but even more expansion of our Antenna Switch business and Received Diversity Switches.”

MagnaChip has launched a new Bipolar-CMOS-DMOS (BCD) technology based on 0.35-micron SOI technology.

Display devices that require higher resolution call for a change at the transistor level to a higher mobility material. In a blog, Applied Materials talks about a solution to the problem.

North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted a book-to-bill ratio of 0.97 in September, compared to 0.98 in August, according to SEMI.

The Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC) has launched the Semiconductor Synthetic Biology (SSB) research program. This involves hybrid bio-semiconductor systems. The program will initially fund research at six universities–MIT, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Yale, Georgia Tech, Brigham Young and the University of Washington.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University will collaborate with IMEC to advance silicon applications in healthcare.

CEA-Leti, Fraunhofer IPMS-CNT and three European SMEs, IPDiA, Picosun and SENTECH Instruments, have launched a project to industrialize 3D integrated capacitors.

Microsemi has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Symmetricom. http://investor.microsemi.com/releases.cfm

FormFactor announced the appointment of Mike Slessor as president and as a member of the company’s board, and CEO Tom St. Dennis as executive chairman.