Tag Archives: letter-mems-business

Leveraging respective leadership technologies in sensors and IoT connectivity, Integrated Device Technology, Inc. (IDT) and Telink Semiconductor are announcing a partnership to create connected and integrated sensor platforms for IoT applications. These platforms enable a wide variety of IoT use cases, such as environmental sensing, health and fitness monitoring, connected smart buildings, as well as asset identification, position and location tracking.

IDT plans to release the new Bluetooth Low Energy 5 module featuring Telink’s 32-bit microcontroller core with better power-balanced performance for battery-operated devices. The Bluetooth module has an integrated 2.4GHz RF transceiver supporting the IEEE802.15.4 multi-standard wireless protocol along with audio support.

“We are excited about Telink’s technology and how it will augment our existing sensor technology and connectivity platform,” said Sailesh Chittipeddi, IDT’s executive vice president for global operations and chief technology officer. “With this partnership, we will be able to address markets together that we weren’t fully capable of with our standalone solutions.”

“IDT’s integrated sensors and applications combined with Telink’s third generation, ultra-low power connectivity ICs – specifically designed to enable cost sensitive applications – give high-performance options without compromise to connected sensing product designers,” said Jim Wargnier, global VP of sales for Telink Semiconductor. “We look forward to pushing the boundaries with IDT on this exciting platform.”

STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM) today announced it has signed an agreement to acquire a majority stake in Swedish silicon carbide (SiC) wafer manufacturer Norstel AB. After closing, ST will control the entire supply chain for a portion of its SiC devices at a time of constrained global capacity and positions itseIf for a significant growth opportunity.

ST will acquire 55% of Norstel’s share capital, with an option to acquire the remaining 45% subject to certain conditions, which, if exercised, will result in total consideration of $137.5 million, funded with available cash.

“ST is the only semiconductor company with automotive-grade silicon carbide in mass production today. We want to build on our strong momentum in SiC, both in volume and breadth of applications for industrial and automotive, targeting continued leadership in a market estimated at more than $3 billion in 2025,” said Jean-Marc Chery, President and CEO of STMicroelectronics. “The acquisition of a majority stake in Norstel is another step forward strengthening our silicon carbide ecosystem: it will boost our flexibility, improve yield and quality, and support our long-term silicon carbide roadmap and business.”

Norstel, headquartered in Norrkoping, Sweden, was founded in 2005 as a spinoff of Linköping University. It develops and manufactures advanced 150mm silicon carbide bare and epitaxial wafers.

SEMI, the global industry association serving the electronics manufacturing supply chain, today announced the appointment of John Chong, vice president of product and business development at MEMS manufacturer Kionix, as Governing Council chair of the SEMI-MEMS & Sensors Industry Group (SEMI-MSIG), a SEMI Strategic Association Partner. The Council provides guidance and oversight for SEMI-MSIG’s strategic direction and initiatives.

As chairman, Dr. Chong, a member of the SEMI-MSIG Governing Council since 2015, will work to advance the interests of the MEMS and sensors community globally and drive its expansion. Spurred by surging growth in smartphones, smart speakers, autonomous cars, and fitness and healthcare wearables, the global market for MEMS and sensors is expected to double in the next five years, reaching $100 billion by 2023, according to Yole Développement, a market research firm.

“John’s technical expertise and industry insights have been great assets to SEMI-MSIG,” said Michael Ciesinski, vice president of Technology Communities at SEMI. “We are pleased that he will now focus his leadership on programs designed to deepen industry collaboration, drive innovation, and seize the tremendous market opportunity that lies ahead. Further, as we make this leadership transition, SEMI gratefully acknowledges the many contributions of our past chair, Dave Kirsch, vice president and general manager of EV Group.”

Among other achievements, Kirsch led the successful integration of MSIG with SEMI in 2016.

Dr. Chong brings to the chair rich industry experience. He leads Kionix’s growing portfolio of sensors and oversees its Software and Solutions Development Center. Before joining Kionix in 2006, Dr. Chong led the development of optical MEMS at Calient Networks. He holds multiple patents and has spoken extensively at industry conferences about the role of sensors in the Internet of Things (IoT). Dr. Chong earned his B.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Cornell University, where he worked on novel techniques for the design and manufacturing of Microfludic MEMS.

“I am excited by the central role MEMS and sensors will play in the age of IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), and autonomous agents,” Dr. Chong said. “With collaboration and coordination within the industry critical to its prosperity, SEMI-MSIG is key in providing the vision, resources and platform necessary to enable innovation and get business done.”

SEMI has also appointed Becky Oh, president and CEO of PNI Sensors, as SEMI-MSIG vice-chair. During her 20 years at PNI Sensors, Oh has held a range of senior-level positions, from operations to technical business development, and spearheaded the company’s entrance into the IoT market. She received an M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT.

Total fab equipment spending in 2019 is projected to drop 8 percent, a sharp reversal from the previously forecast increase of 7 percent as fab investment growth has been revised downward for 2018 to 10 percent from the 14 percent predicted in August, according to the latest edition of the World Fab Forecast Report published by SEMI.

Entering 2018, the semiconductor industry was expected to show a rare fourth consecutive year of equipment investment growth in 2019. But the SEMI World Fab Forecast Report, tracking more than 400 fabs and lines with major investment projects, forecast in August a slowdown in the second half of 2018 and into the first half of 2019. Now, with recent industry developments, a steeper downturn in fab equipment is expected (Figure 1).

Figure 1

The report shows overall spending down 13 percent in the second half of 2018 and 16 percent in the first half of 2019 with a strong increase in fab equipment spending expected in the second half of 2019.

Plunging memory prices and a sudden shift in companies’ strategies in response to trade tensions are driving rapid drops in capital expenditures, especially among leading-edge memory manufacturers, some fabs in China, and some projects for mature nodes such as 28nm. Industry sectors expecting record-breaking growth in 2019, such as memory and China, are now leading the decline.

Following a sharp fall in NAND flash pricing earlier this year, DRAM prices in the fourth quarter of 2018 began to soften, seemingly ending the two-year DRAM boom. Inventory corrections and CPU shortages continue, prompting predictions of even steeper price declines.

Memory makers have quickly responded to changing market conditions by adjusting capital expenditures (capex), and tool orders have been put on hold. DRAM spending may see an even deeper correction in 2019 while NAND flash-related investment could also suffer a double-digit decline next year.

A review of spending by industry sector reveals that, while memory capital expenditures were expected to grow by 3 percent in 2019, they are now forecast to drop by 19 percent year-over-year (YOY). DRAM is hit the hardest with a fall of 23 percent, while 3D NAND will contract 13 percent in 2019.

China and Korea are suffering the largest drops in spending since the August report.

China fab spending falls

Projections for equipment spending in China in 2019 have been revised from US$17 billion in August to US$12 billion, with multiple factors at play including a slowing memory market, trade tensions, and delays in some project timelines.

SK Hynix is expected to slow DRAM expansion in 2019. GLOBALFOUNDRIES reconsidered its plan for the Chengdu fab, delaying the ramp. SMIC and UMC are slowing spending. The Fujian Jinhua DRAM project has been put on hold.

Korea fab spending down

In August, SEMI forecast that Korea fab equipment spending would decline by 8 percent, to US$17 billion, in 2019 – a projection that has now been slashed to US$12 billion, a drop of 35 percent YoY. Samsung began to reduce equipment investments in the fourth quarter of 2018, and the spending cuts are expected to continue into the first half of 2019. Samsung’s largest projects to be hit are P1 (slowdown) and the ramp of P2 Phase 1 (delayed). Adjustments to the S3 schedule are also expected.

Not all memory makers cut capital expenditures

While SEMI’s detailed, fab-level data show that some memory makers will scale back capital expenditures for 2019, one company stands out. Micron will increase capex for FY19 to US$10.5 billion, up about 28 percent, or $8.2 billion, from FY18. Micron plans to expand and upgrade facilities, invest less in NAND in FY19 than in FY18, and anticipates no new wafer starts.

Outlook still upbeat for mature technologies

In other sectors, especially for non-leading-edge and specialty technologies, some fabs are still increasing investments (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Opto – especially CMOS image sensors – shows strong growth, surging 33 percent to US$3.8 billion in 2019. Micro (MPU, MCU and DSP) is expected to grow more than 40 percent in 2019 to US$4.8 billion. Analog and mixed signal investments also show strong growth – 19 percent – in 2019, bringing spending to US$660 million. The foundry sector, the second largest product segment in total investments at US$13 billion, shows a 10 percent rise in 2019.

The recent three-year boom in the semiconductor market was chiefly driven by the memory sector (e.g. DRAM and 3D NAND flash). One company, Samsung, invested at unprecedented levels, lifting the entire industry. Other memory makers rode the wave of the boom cycle by boosting investments. And China’s profile rose with its huge investments. The industry was poised for four consecutive years of revenue growth – a streak not seen since the 1990s.

Now the industry faces well-known threats of inventory correction and the trade war. Both phenomena could slow growth significantly and if both unfold in full force in tandem, the impact could be serious. The data in SEMI’s latest publication of the World Fab Forecast show that the four-year growth streak will not materialize.

Since its August 2018 publication, more than 260 updates have been made to the World Fab Forecast. The report now includes more than 1,280 records of current and 115 future front-end semiconductor facilities from high-volume production to research and development. The report covers data and predictions through 2019, including milestones, detailed investments by quarter, product types, technology nodes and capacities down to fab and project level.

The SEMI World Fab Forecast examines capital expenditure plans of individual front-end device manufacturers, while the SEMI bi-annual Semiconductor Equipment Sales Forecast is based on year-to-date data collected from equipment manufacturers and modeled off of announced capital expenditure plans of both front-end and back-end equipment manufacturers.

IC designers are increasingly seeking ways to keep production costs down while implementing low power, high endurance embedded flash. Microchip Technology Inc. via its subsidiary Silicon Storage Technology (SST) has announced a strategic partnership with SK hynix system ic to expand the availability of SuperFlash® technology. The partnership will introduce SST’s embedded SuperFlash technology to SK hynix system ic’s 110 nanometer (nm) CMOS platform, providing designers a cost-effective and low-power embedded flash memory solution. 

SST’s embedded SuperFlash technology offers low power, high reliability, superior data retention and endurance for a range of applications, such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices, smart cards and microcontroller-based applications. The technology’s power efficiency and fast erase time are ideal for low-power applications such as remote IoT edge nodes and contactless payment devices. 

 “The combination of area-efficient, low-power SuperFlash technology and the highly cost-effective 110 nm process node opens up exciting new product opportunities, especially for IoT and microcontroller-based applications,” said Mark Reiten, vice president of SST, a wholly owned subsidiary of Microchip. “This partnership will enable customers who require low power, high endurance embedded flash to keep their production costs down by using the highly optimised 8-inch CMOS platform.”

SST’s SuperFlash technology complements SK hynix system ic’s embedded flash memory solutions with low power and high reliability IP. SK hynix system ic is a fully owned subsidiary spun off from SK hynix (000660: Korea SE) in July 2017. It is a pure 200 mm foundry specialised in Display Driver IC (DDI), CMOS Image Sensor (CIS), and Power IC with a process range of 500 nm to 57 nm. 

“We believe that the adoption of SST’s embedded SuperFlash will enable SK hynix system ic to expand our technology portfolio, and it will help to respond to customer requests for highly reliable and robust embedded non-volatile memory solutions,” said Dr. SB You, marketing vice president of SK hynix system ic. “Moreover, we will provide customers with a cost-effective embedded flash solution to support their competitiveness in the market. As the demand for embedded flash memory solutions increases, there will be many customers coming to us to use our 110nm CMOS technology-based embedded flash memory solution.” 

The process development commenced earlier this year and is expected to be completed in early 2019. Contact SST for more information on the company’s extensive custom library of off-the-shelf IP blocks optimised for smartcard System-on-Chips (SoCs). 

Releasing its Year-End Total Equipment Forecast at the annual SEMICON Japan exposition, SEMI, the global industry association representing the electronics manufacturing supply chain, today reported that worldwide sales of new semiconductor manufacturing equipment are projected to increase 9.7 percent to $62.1 billion in 2018, exceeding the historic high of $56.6 billion set last year. The equipment market is expected to contract 4.0 percent in 2019 but grow 20.7 percent to reach $71.9 billion, an all-time high.

The SEMI Year-end Forecast predicts wafer processing equipment will rise 10.2 percent in 2018 to $50.2 billion. The other front-end segment – consisting of fab facilities equipment, wafer manufacturing, and mask/reticle equipment – is expected to increase 0.9 percent to $2.5 billion this year. The assembly and packaging equipment segment is projected to grow 1.9 percent to $4.0 billion in 2018, while semiconductor test equipment is forecast to increase 15.6 percent to $5.4 billion this year.

In 2018, South Korea will remain the largest equipment market for the second year in a row. China will rise in the rankings to claim the second spot for the first time, dislodging Taiwan, which will fall to the third position. All regions tracked except Taiwan, North America, and Korea will experience growth. China will lead in growth with 55.7 percent, followed by Japan at 32.5 percent, Rest of World (primarily Southeast Asia) at 23.7 percent, and Europe at 14.2 percent.

For 2019, SEMI forecasts that South Korea, China, and Taiwan will remain the top three markets, with all three regions maintaining their relative rankings. Equipment sales in South Korea is forecast to reach $13.2 billion, in China $12.5 billion, and in Taiwan $11.81 billion. Japan, Taiwan and North America are the only regions expected to experience growth next year. The growth picture is much more optimistic in 2020, with all regional markets expected to increase in 2020, with the market increasing the most in Korea, followed by China, and Rest of World.

The following results are in terms of market size in billions of U.S. dollars:

The Equipment Market Data Subscription (EMDS) from SEMI provides comprehensive market data for the global semiconductor equipment market. A subscription includes three reports:

  • Monthly SEMI Billings Report, an early perspective of the trends in the equipment market
  • Monthly Worldwide Semiconductor Equipment Market Statistics (SEMS), a detailed report of semiconductor equipment bookings and billings for seven regions and over 22 market segments
  • SEMI Mid-Year Forecast, an outlook for the semiconductor equipment market

Vertiv announced today that it has completed the purchase of the maintenance business of MEMS Power Generation (MEMS), a privately-owned company headquartered in the United Kingdom that specializes in temporary power solutions. This marks the third acquisition for Vertiv, and is consistent with the company’s growth strategy. MEMS will now focus entirely on its generator rentals solutions business.

“The addition of the MEMS maintenance business is a natural fit for our existing U.K. business and we welcome MEMS’ more than 160 contract customers that we now have the opportunity to serve,” said Rob Johnson, Vertiv chief executive officer. “By strengthening our capability in generator maintenance, and expanding our service offerings in critical infrastructure in EMEA, we’re well positioned to offer customers an unmatched suite of services.”

“Since partnering with Vertiv in 2016, we continue to be impressed by the company’s vision and ability to execute strategic deals that serve to expand the business in key growth areas,” said Platinum Equity Partner Jacob Kotzubei. “The Vertiv management team continues to make smart investments to grow its global business and position the company for continued success.”

The 160 MEMS contract customers in the U.K. range from data centers to hospitals and universities to industrial companies and utilities. Vertiv will service the newly acquired MEMS customers with the Vertiv U.K. service team.

Vertiv and MEMS Power Generation closed the sale on Nov. 30, 2018. MEMS transferred all its service and maintenance contracts to Vertiv at that time.

Silvaco, Inc. today announced the opening of a second Christian Doppler Laboratory (CDL) in partnership with the Institute for Microelectronics, TU Wien. The new CDL, officially opened November 12th will develop new device simulation solutions for MRAM, a novel non-volatile memory technology.

“The fact that memory components are constantly becoming smaller and smaller is driven by the constant need for devices with lower power and higher capacity,” said Dr. Siegfried Selberherr, Professor at the Institute for Microelectronics, TU Wien. “Conventional technologies are now reaching the limits of miniaturization and new technologies are being developed to replace them. The new CD lab will make an important contribution by exploring the foundations of possible memory alternatives and harnessing this new knowledge to the advantage of semiconductor businesses and their customers.”

Magnetoresistive random-access memory (MRAM) is a non-volatile memory technology with the potential to become a dominant alternative to DRAM and SRAM, and the future possibility to become a universal memory for digital devices. MRAM has the operation speed close to SRAM while using lower power and less area for an equivalent memory density. This characteristic makes MRAM suitable for a large number of applications, such as automotive and industrial where both performance and non-volatile memory are required.

“New digital device technologies will enable the next generation of smart components for consumer and industrial applications,” said Dr. Viktor Sverdlov from the Institute for Microelectronics, TU Wien, and who heads the new Christian Doppler Laboratory. “MRAM has the potential to deliver both more memory density and much lower power consumption extending memory beyond the current solutions. TCAD device simulation of this new device technology is an essential step in making this change possible for the industry.”

“TCAD simulation always plays a significant role launching, supporting and optimizing new technologies and this is also true for novel memories such as MRAM,” said Dr. Eric Guichard, VP and GM of the TCAD Division at Silvaco. “Silvaco has a long history pioneering new technologies and this new CDL is the latest addition to Silvaco’s TCAD development which is also progressing on high speed TCAD, atomistic simulation for advanced logic and cryogenic simulation for supercomputing. We are pleased to undertake this second technology partnership with the Institute for Microelectronics, TU Wien, and together we will continue to deliver research at the leading edge of semiconductor design.”

Altair Semiconductor (www.altair-semi.com), a provider of cellular IoT chipsets, announced today it has partnered with JIG-SAW Inc. (jig-saw.com ), a provider of A&A (Auto sensor-ing and Auto Direction) solutions for IoT, to develop LTE-enabled sensors for a wide variety of global industrial IoT applications.

The partnership combines Altair’s dual-mode Cat-M/NB-IoT ALT1250 chipset with JIG-SAW’s software control technology to enable developers to create new IoT business models that can drive new efficiencies across their organizations. Potential market applications include IoT sensors for warehouse site management, equipment monitoring, logistics, and more.

“We are pleased to partner with Altair Semiconductor to bring end-to-end, power and cost-optimized LTE-connected solutions to IoT users around the world,” said Hiroto Ozaki, Chief Operating Officer of JIG-SAW. “The IoT market is expanding rapidly, and enabling control not only via the cloud, but also within the modem chip layer, offers significant value for IoT users by providing high monitoring quality and stabilized, consistent services.”

The collaboration will enable users with connected IoT devices to control and monitor individual devices and their statuses at all times via a modem chip connection. Additionally, auto-control services will enable users to address alerts in a timely manner.

“Because Wi-Fi is not always feasible or efficient for many industrial IoT applications, cellular is a strategic alternative for reliable, secure and low-cost connectivity to the cloud,” said Ilan Reingold, VP of Business Development and Marketing for Altair Semiconductor. “We are excited to collaborate with JIG-SAW to bring the most secure and effective LTE-enabled solutions to the global industrial sensors market.”

The integration will be demonstrated by JIG-SAW this month at re:Invent 2018 , the Amazon Web Services annual user conference, in Las Vegas from November 26-30. The service is scheduled to launch in the Spring of 2019.

SEMI Taiwan today announced the formation of the FlexTech Taiwan Steering Committee. Serving as a platform that connects industry, academia, research and government, the committee will focus on identifying market trends and needs, solving technical challenges and accelerating innovation and business development to advance the flexible hybrid electronics industry and open business opportunities for its members.

Lightweight and highly scalable, flexible hybrid electronics promise to bring new applications and capabilities to consumer electronics, medical and health care, defense, transportation, textile, sports and leisure, robotics and industrial automation. To fulfill the potential of flexible hybrid electronics, the industry must overcome challenges in areas such as yield, cost, regulation and technology standards.

Key focus areas of the FlexTech Taiwan Steering Committee will include:

  • Capitalizing on Taiwan’s success in semiconductor and LCD/LED displays to build a complete flexible hybrid electronics ecosystem
  • Advocating for government policies on developing emerging industries, technology research funding, and talent development
  • Organizing exhibitions and other events to raise awareness and communicate the value of flexible hybrid electronics the electronics industry
  • Establishing industry standards to accelerate research and development and facilitate technology and product development

The FlexTech Taiwan Steering Committee consists of key industry players spanning equipment, materials, design, manufacturing, systems and end applications. Committee members include E Ink, ASE Group, AUO, Hitachi, Brewer Science, CymMetrik, DuPont, Singular Wings Medical, BenQ Materials Corporation, Nagase, Flexterra, Wisechip Semiconductor, AiQ Smart Clothing, Makalot Industrial, Far Eastern New Century, Ritdisplay Corportation, Applied Materials, Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), National Sun Yat-sen University, and Chang Gung University.

Over the past 20 years, SEMI-FlexTech, a SEMI Strategic Association Partner, has promoted the development and commercialization of flexible hybrid electronics. Key achievements include:

  • Working with Boeing to develop a flexible electronic control device to reduce the weight of drones and commercial aircraft
  • Teaming with GE to develop RF stickers that measure human hydration
  • Collaborating with the U.S. Air Force to develop a non-invasive wearable device that measures biodata of aircraft pilots

For the past 17 years, SEMI and FlexTech have championed the development of the FHE industry through conferences and exhibitions in major microelectronics manufacturing regions such as North America, Europe, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Singapore and China.

FLEX Taiwan, 29-30 May, 2019, is a one-day technical conference that provides a powerful platform for connecting with customers, suppliers, future partners and academia to drive collaboration and uncover new opportunities in flexible hybrid electronics. For more information, please click here.