Sunday, May 26, 2019

Micron will pay Intel approximately $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion for their IM Flash share

Earlier this year, Micron announced their intention to buy out Intel's stake of their memory technology joint venture, IM Flash Technologies. Now, as the process gets underway, Micron is disclosing more concrete details about the transaction. According to the company's latest filing, Micron will pay Intel approximately $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion for their stake and associated debt, with the expectation of closing the deal by the end of October. Under the joint venture deal between Intel and Micron signed in 2005, Micron controls 51% of the firm and has a right to buy the remaining share under certain conditions. 
IM Flash Technologies, LLC is the semiconductor company founded in January 2006, by Intel Corporation and Micron Technology, Inc. IM Flash produces 3D XPoint used in data centers and high-end computers. It has a 300mm wafer fab in Lehi, UT, United States. (Wikipedia, Google maps)
Intel previously sold Micron its stakes in IM Flash's fabs in Singapore and Virginia back in 2012, which left the IM Flash joint venture itself with only a single fab in Lehi, Utah. Nowadays the production facility is used exclusively to make 3D XPoint memory, which in turn is currently only used by Intel. Micron itself plans to use the fab to make 2nd Generation 3D XPoint memory that it will use for products set to be launched by late calendar 2019. Eventually, the facility will be used to manufacture post-3D XPoint memory. 
IM Flash Utah Fab from above (Google Maps)
Source: AnandTech LINK

By AbhishekkumarThakur, Jonas Sundqvist

Monday, May 20, 2019

TSMC obtains orders for 5G modem from fabless companies

TSMC has grabbed orders for all the 5G modem chips that have been introduced by fabless chipmakers, such as Qualcomm's Snapdragon X50 and HiSilicon's Balong series. TSMC has kicked off volume production for 5G modem chips for Qualcomm and HiSilicon and is gearing up for production for MediaTek's Helio M70 5G modem in the second half of 2019. All their first 5G modem solutions will be built using TSMC's 7nm process technology. Samsung Electronics announced recently that its 5G communication solutions are in mass production for the latest premium mobile devices. Those include Samsung's first 5G modem solution, the Exynos Modem 5100, which uses Samsung's 10nm LPP process.

Source: Digi Times LINK 

By Abhishekkumar Thakur

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Highlights of Samsung Foundry Forum 2019, Santa Clara, California, USA

3nm Gate-All-Around (GAA) process, 3GAE, development is on track. Process Design Kit (PDK) version 0.1 for 3GAE has been released in April to help customers get an early start on the design work and enable improved design competitiveness along with reduced turnaround time (TAT).

Compared to 7nm technology, Samsung’s 3GAE process is designed to provide up to a 45 percent reduction in chip area with 50 percent lower power consumption or 35 percent higher performance.

Samsung Electronics launched the Samsung Advanced Foundry Ecosystem Cloud (SAFE™-Cloud) program. It will provide customers with a more flexible design environment through collaboration with major public cloud service providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, as well as leading Electronic Design Automation (EDA) companies, including Cadence and Synopsys.

Samsung’s roadmap includes four FinFET-based processes from 7nm down to 4nm that leverage extreme ultraviolet (EUV) technology as well as 3nm GAA, or MBCFET™. In the 2H of this year, Samsung is scheduled to start the mass production of 6nm process devices and complete the development of 4nm process. The product design of Samsung’s 5nm FinFET process, which was developed in April, is expected to be completed in the 2H of this year and go under mass production in the 1H of 2020.

While FinFET structures must modulate the number of fins in a discrete way, MBCFET™ provides greater design flexibility by controlling the nanosheet width. In addition, MBCFET™’s compatibility with FinFET processes means the two can share the same manufacturing technology and equipment, which accelerates process development and production ramp-up. (
Development of the successor to the 28FDS process, 18FDS, and eMRAM with 1Gb capacity will be finished this year.

Source: Samsung (LINK)

By Abishekkumar Thakur and Jonas Sundqvist

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

TSMC board approves nearly US$4 billion for advanced-node manufacturing

The board of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has approved capital appropriations of US$3.98 billion for the purpose of upgrading and expanding capacity for advanced-node manufacturing, as well as the conversion of certain logic capacity to specialty technologies, and R&D capital investments and sustaining capital expenditures for third-quarter 2019.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

TSMC begins production of 5 nanometre chips

The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, or TSMC, has begun risk production of 5 nanometre (nm) chipsets that would be featured in future super-efficient flagship smartphones and expects to be ready to start mass production in the first half of 2020. The mass production of the new standard is scheduled for 2020 if everything goes as planned. This process will introduce chips that will have up to 45 percent area reduction, also bringing a performance gain up to 15 percent compared to the current 7 nm chipsets. For chipsets coming out later this year, TSMC has the 7 nm+ process ready. It should offer a 6-12% reduction in power consumption and a 20 percent higher transistor density compared to the current 7 nm process.
Source: LiveMint (LINK)
By Abhishekkumar Thakur

Intermolecular to be acquired by Merck KGaA Darmstadt

SAN JOSE, Calif., May 6, 2019 (PRNewswire) has signed a definitive agreement pursuant to which a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company, will acquire Intermolecular for $1.20 per share in an all cash transaction, representing an equity value of Intermolecular of approximately $62 million. The acquisition has been unanimously approved by Intermolecular's Board of Directors and the Executive Board of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
"We are pleased to become an integral part of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany's leading electronic materials business and look forward to all of the new and exciting opportunities we see for our customers and employees. We believe our technology expertise is very complementary and creates a unique offering that will continue to shape the innovations of tomorrow," said Chris Kramer, President and Chief Executive Officer of Intermolecular.

"Intermolecular's unique capabilities in rapid material screening, in combination with the R&D pipeline of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, will allow us to offer our customers faster materials innovation, through parallel composition experiment and full performance testing and characterization," said Kai Beckmann, member of the Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Executive Board and CEO of Performance Materials. "We are excited to join forces with Intermolecular and bring significant advantages to our customers compared to conventional materials R&D."

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2019, subject to the approval of Intermolecular's stockholders, clearance by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, will acquire Intermolecular through its wholly owned subsidiary EMD Group Holding II, Inc.

As a result of this transaction, Intermolecular will not be holding its previously scheduled conference call on May 14, 2019.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

2019 Investor Meeting: 7 nm Product in 2021

Intel held its 2019 investor meeting May 8, 2019 (LINK), it's first since 2017, and CEO Bob Swan announced that Intel would launch its 7 nm process in 2021 to challenge TSMC's 5 nm products.

Intel's Xe graphics will be the leading 7 nm product, which will come on the heels of Intel's first discrete 10 nm GPU that arrives in 2020. The company also unveiled its first block diagram of the Ice Lake architecture and announced that its new 10nm Tiger Lake processors will come to market in 2020.
Source: Tom´s Hardware LINK


By Abhishekkumar Thakur

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Demand for ALD equipment and Lumineq displays grows at Beneq

Beneq invests in R&D and production at the Home of ALD

Beneq®, a leading supplier of Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) equipment and coating services, and the world’s premier manufacturer of thin film electroluminescent displays, has introduced a new investment plan to support growth in new industrial ALD solutions and the transparent display business. 

Following the agreement about the acquisition of Beneq Oy in September 2018, it was announced today that the new owners of Beneq have approved an investment program that allows Beneq to grow faster in its strategic focus areas, such as ALD solutions for the emerging semiconductor applications and transparent vehicle displays. 
Together with the new owners’ earlier investments in 2018 to improve Beneq’s equity ratio and working capital, the announced development programs result in a total investment of over 20 million euros. 

“When we invested in Beneq, we invested in people, technology know-how and innovation. The new growth plan will help us to realize the potential and achieve the ambitious growth targets we have set for Beneq,” commented Kong Jun, Chairman of Beneq.

New high-volume ALD manufacturing solutions for More-than-Moore applications

For the Atomic Layer Deposition business unit, the new growth program means major investments in new ALD solutions for the emerging semiconductor ALD business applications in the area of the so called More-than-Moore applications, such as MEMS, image sensors, power semiconductors and RF components needed for the future 5G and IoT solutions.

“Emerging semiconductor ALD and the diversified More-than-Moore applications are an extremely promising growth area for us. We have already had success in these areas with our latest flexible ALD cluster tools for high volume manufacturing. The new investment plan will allow us to fast-track our product development and services in these markets,” said Tommi Vainio, Vice President, Atomic Layer Deposition of Beneq.

Transparent displays for the automotive and transportation industries

For Lumineq Displays, the display business unit of Beneq, the investment plan allows both acceleration of product development in the area of transparent and in-glass displays, and improvements in Beneq’s display factory in Espoo, Finland.

“We have seen great interest in our transparent in-glass displays, especially in the transportation and automotive industries. The window-like transparency of Lumineq displays has helped our customers to build vehicles with improved safety and user experience and will serve as an important differentiation factor in their products,” said Petri Schroderus, Vice President, Lumineq Displays.

A recruitment campaign to support future growth

To enable future growth, Beneq has a continuous program to attract new talent. With the investment plan now approved, the company will start the next large recruitment campaign for building the talent pool. Most of the new positions will be in Espoo, Finland, but the plan also includes recruitment for Beneq’s international teams.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Applied Materials - The AI Era is Driving Innovations in Memory

[Applied Materials Blog] Industries from transportation and healthcare to retail and entertainment will be transformed by the Internet of Things, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which Applied Materials collectively calls the AI Era of Computing.

The previous computing eras—Mainframe/Minicomputer, PC/Server and Smartphone/Tablet—all benefitted from advances in Moore’s Law whereby 2D scaling was accompanied by simultaneous improvements in performance, power and area/cost—also called “PPAC.”

While AI Era applications are booming, Moore’s Law is slowing; as a result, the industry needs breakthroughs beyond 2D scaling to drive PPAC in new ways. Specifically, we need new computing architectures, new materials, new structures—especially area-saving 3D structures—and advanced packaging for die stacking and heterogeneous designs.

The AI Era is Driving a Renaissance in Semiconductor Innovation (Applied Materials Blog)
AI Era architectural changes are influencing both logic and memory. Machine learning algorithms make heavy use of matrix multiplication operations that are cumbersome in general-purpose logic, and this is driving a move to accelerators and their memories. AI compute includes two distinct memory tasks: first, storing the intermediate results of calculations; and second, storing the weights associated with trained models.

Performance and power are important in the cloud and in the edge, and innovations in memory can help. One approach using existing memory technologies is “near memories” whereby large amounts of working memory are condensed, placed in close physical proximity to logic, and connected via high-speed interfaces. As examples, 3D stacking and through-silicon vias are gaining traction. One major drawback of SRAM and DRAM as “working memories” in these applications is that they are volatile and need a constant supply of power to retain data—such as weights.

To reduce power in the cloud and edge, designers are evaluating new memories that combine high performance with non-volatility so that power is only needed during active read and write operations. Three of the leading new memory candidates are magnetic random-access memory (MRAM), phase-change RAM (PCRAM) and resistive RAM (ReRAM). 

Full article: Applied Materials Blog LINK
Additional read: Manufacturing Requirements of New Memories LINK

Air Liquide and STMicroelectronics to collaborate on digital transformation

Paris and Geneva, May 6 2019 - Air Liquide and STMicroelectronics intend to engage in a collaborative initiative to accelerate the development of digital solutions for industrial applications. Through this initiative, ST anticipates supporting Air Liquide in its digital transformation, providing guidance and solutions while Air Liquide anticipates working with ST in developing technologies and solutions for industrial applications. This cooperation will extend the long-standing business relationship established over the past decades between both companies. 
By Getfunky - Flickr: Paris, CC BY 2.0,

The parties anticipate collaborating to identify cases where ST's technologies would best fit industrial and logistics needs, and then prototype the selected digital solutions and test them in Air Liquide's operating environments. By creating a fertile ground of exchange among experts and adopting a collaborative approach, Air Liquide and ST intend to accelerate digital innovation of industrial use-cases. The parties have already identified a selection of projects and ideas in domains such as asset tracking and management, predictive maintenance and the cybersecurity of industrial assets.

This cooperation will extend the trusted and long-standing business relationship established over the past decades between Air Liquide and ST. Air Liquide supplies gas, materials and equipment to ST's manufacturing sites located in France, Italy, Malta, Morocco, the Philippines and Singapore.

Joël Hartmann, Executive Vice President for Digital & Smart Power Technology and Digital Front-End Manufacturing of STMicroelectronics, said: "Building on the strong and mutually beneficial relationship established over many years, ST and Air Liquide are moving to further enrich this expedition. Our goal is to support the digital transformation of Air Liquide, one of our major and strategic suppliers, by providing state of the art solutions leveraging our products and technologies portfolio to successfully accelerate their program in this domain."

Guy Salzgeber, Executive Vice-President and member of the Air Liquide group's Executive Committee supervising industrial activities in Europe, said: "We are confident that this additional cooperation with ST, a long-time strategic customer of the Group, will enable a further acceleration of our digital transformation while helping ST in better addressing the technological needs in the field of Industrial Internet of Things. This initiative is a further illustration of our open-innovation strategy partnering with customers, academics, suppliers and start-ups."

TSMC 5nm will improve logic density by 1.8X over 7nm

[Hexus] In the wake of the recently published Q1 2019 results, TSMC's Vice Chairman & CEO C. C. Wei provided information about TSMC's progress, in an earnings call. TSMC is ploughing on with its 6nm and 5nm plans. TSMC refers to its 7nm process as N7, and 6nm and 5nm processes as N6 and N5, respectively.
N5 will be a large and long-lasting node at TSMC concluded:
  • customers would need some time to get up to speed for N5, while moving from N7 to N6 requires only "a very minimal effort".
  • TSMC 5nm will improve logic density by 1.8X over 7nm
"Our N5 technology development is well on track. N5 has entered risk production in first quarter, and we expect customer tape-outs starting this quarter and volume production ramp in first half of 2020. With 1.8 times logic density and 15% speed gain and an ARM A72 core compared with 7-nanometer, we believe our N5 technology is the most competitive in the industry. With the best density performance, power and the best transistor technology, we expect most of our customers who are using 7-nanometer today will adopt 5-nanometer. With N5, we are expanding our customer product portfolio and increasing our addressable market. Thus, we are confident that 5-nanometer will also be a large and long-lasting node for TSMC." [Seeking Alpha, Transcript LINK]
C. C. Wei – Chief Executive Officer

Source: Hexus Hexus

Future AMD Ryzen CPUs Built on TSMC's 5nm Process Node Can Be Up To 80% More Denser Than 7nm Ryzen 3000

Future AMD Ryzen series processors can feature a major density uplift with TSMC’s 5nm process node compared to upcoming 7nm based Ryzen 3000 series chips. The details of the TSMC 5nm or N5 process node were released last month and give us an insight into what to expect from future generations of Ryzen processors and how they would stack up against the competition versus the Intel lineup.
Source: WCCFtech LINK

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Samsung Electronics to build new foundry in Pyeongtaek

Samsung Electronics recently announced its "Semiconductor Vision 2030". As part of it, they will construct a new foundry in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi-do. The present foundry fab, located in Giheung and Hwasung, will expand to Pyeongtaek, which is the world's most extensive semiconductor production base. Until now, Samsung Electronics' Pyeongtaek campus had only a memory production for DRAM and NAND, but with this investment decision, the Pyeongtaek will become a base for foundry logic as well. Currently, Samsung Electronics has a foundry fab that produces system semiconductors in Austin, Texas, USA, and in Giheung, Hwaseong, Gyeonggi-do.

Samsung refers to GAA as a 4-dimensional technology in their marketing pitch. (News 1 Korea)
The "Semiconductor Vision 2030" goal for Samsung Electronics is to become the world's No. 1 semiconductor maker in 2030, and investment in the foundry market will be in full swing to secure economies of scale.

The cost (more than 20 trillion won) to build this new EUV fab equals to building three Incheon airports according to Samsung Electronics and will be ramped with a 3 nm process. Whereas the new Hwasung fab new plant is scheduled to start operation 2020 ramping 7 nm, 5 nm, and 4 nm. As of 5 nm, the transistor architecture will be transferring from current FinFET technology GAA-FETs (Gate-All-Around FETs). 
Source: News1 Korea (LINK)