Tag: ic

GlobalFoundries says quality 14nm around the corner

Like we reported earlier, Globalfoundries is pinning its hopes on HKMG – the beast it claims to have tamed – now and around the future, and it has plans for 20nm, 14nm and 450mm processes which are around the corner, but some are less around the corner than others.

Fab1 in Germany is running on 45nm and below, with claims from Glofo that it shipped more HKMG than any other foundry in the industry. Capacity is set to ramp up to 80,000 a month.  Fab 7 in Singapore goes from 130nm down to 40nm, and there will be additional 40nm capacity on the way. At the moment the overall capacity is 50,000 wafers per month. 

“My baby,” says Globalfoundries’ Norm Armour, “fab 8 in upstate New York is targeted for 28nm and below, the initial will be 32 SOI, followed shortly by 28m”, and the production ramp will begin in Summer 2012. The NY fab, which Glofo is claiming to  be “the world’s most advanced,” has an awful lot of cleanroom space – six American football fields worth, Armour says.

Again, those without sin did not cast the first stone, with Glofo calling out TSMC and UMC on their 300mm operations. Glofo says it’s close to a million wafers capacity overal in 300mm, which it claims is above the combined capacity of TSMC and UMC. 

Samsung and Globalfoundries’ joint announcement, which hit the wires first thing today, was not given much time. Probably around 5 minutes all-in, but Samsung did get a promo video out of it. 
Analysts claim the 450mm transition is going to be risky, but Globalfoundries says it is “inevitable”. It expects between 40-45,000 wafers a month.

Gregg Bartlett, technologies and development, reckons he has the coolest job in the company. He revealed to the room that Glofo’s HPC 20nm SHP will arrive in 2014. The 28nm will turn up in 2012. For the wired and networking segment, the 28nm HPP is around the corner in 2012, while 20nm LPM should arrive in 2013.

The new offering is 28nm LPH, Bartlett says, which he says fills a “critical gap” in the industry for customers after high performance in mobile but are also interested in decent power levels. Same with 20nm, but there’s a move towards a “single platform in both the mobile and networking space.”

Again, Globalfoundries took aim at rivals. The 20nm LPM beats the 20nm SOC of “a competing foundry” and “a CPU manufacturer’s” 22nm SOC in low power, mobile high performance, and high performance wired.

There was some talk of 14nm and beyond, with Bartlett mentioning FinFET. Like we said earlier, Globalfoundries is also interested in advanced packaging, source mask optimisation, and it isn’t going to ignore 3D entirely. Though at a press conference it claimed Intel should be careful about jumping the gun on less mature technologies, it eventually conceded that Intel will probably be able to get around the  challenges it may face. Glofo’s 3D innovation time line sees 2015 penned in for 3D IC packages.  

NHS loses 8 million patient records from one PC

Some clever soul kept 8 million hospital patient records on one laptop. And it’s gone missing, according to The Current Bun.

It reportedly contained highly sensitive details of 8.63 million people – along with all the ins and outs of 18 million hospital visits including operations and procedures. It’s quite possible some Joe Blogs knows about that hernia from last summer.

More worryingly, it reportedly contains highly sensitive details about HIV, mental illness, cancer and abortions.

It was one of 20 machines to be enjoying the Scotch Mist, held in a store room in London.

Coppers are irritated that the loss had been reported late. Meanwhile, the Information Commissioner, perceived by some as toothless, is sharpening its gums to mull over the case. 

No one has publicly gone on record about the machines – it’s unclear if they were mistakenly dumped or just plain nicked. Similarly no one has owned up to taking the train drunk following an after-work party. It could be on the circle line.

The Sun reports that each laptop was worth £10,000 – but that’s more likely what the NHS paid for them.

Chinese fabless semiconductors set for market boom

China’s fabless semiconductor market is on the road for very high growth, with analyst estimates for 2015 sitting at $10.7 billion in revenue.

That’d be up from $5.2 billion in 2010, itself enjoying 23.6 percent growth from the previous year at $4.2 billion. This year, IHS iSuppli expects revenue to reach $5.74 billion. The industry in China has been strenghtened by the high demand for semiconductors in mobile devices, with shipments of mobile handsets designed on Chinese turf expanded almost 60 percent last year.

China’s fabless market will have to focus on the domestic market to keep growth healthy. They will let local companies take advantage of the better deals as the consumer electronics industry grows with it.

Huge demand for consumer electronics in China means there will be a wide market to make the most of. “China’s fabless semiconductor suppliers must focus on consumer electronics because the major characteristics of the market, including technology, price and quality, play to the strengths of Chinese chip designers,” says IHS iSuppli.

Suppliers will also be looking to convergence of features as other mobile devices gain momentum – all the while, they will have to keep in mind wider industry trends, changes and business models.

Another challenge for China will be in adapting to Western and other overseas territories. “Companies must accommodate and adjust to the differing cultures of overseas customers,” says IHS iSuppli. “They must learn more about end-content sectors that drive the growth of technology markets.”

There will be hurdles in penetrating the logic semiconductor markets, as well as securing enough capacity at the fabs. Both foundry and assembly capacity was a problem in H1 2010, a tough challenge considering the relatively small size of China’s domestic fabless suppliers.

The industry will continue to take advantage of policy support from government. Beijing has offered help in the way of tax rates, investment and capital investments. 

Northrop Grumman breaks computer speed record

Defence outfit Northrop Grumman claims that it has created a new performance record for a computer chip.

The outfit in Redondo Beach in the former UK colony of Virginia claims to have doubled the frequency of the fastest reported integrated circuit.

Northrop’s Terahertz Monolithic Integrated Circuit operated at 0.67 terahertz, or 0.67 trillion cycles per second. This is a lot of cycles, even more than there are in Bejing.

The computer chip was developed at the company’s Simon Ramo Microelectronics Centre under a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Speaking at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) International Microwave Symposium which we went too hoping that we would learn how to avoid making our pizza’s going soggy, William Deal, THz Electronics program manager for Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector said that he used a amplifier to speed things up.

He is pretty sure that it is the first IC operating at 670 GHz. It could be used to double the bandwidth, or information carrying capacity, for future military communications networks.

TMIC amplifiers will enable more sensitive radar and produce sensors with highly improved resolution,” said Deal. 

ASE revenues up 180 percent

IC packaging and testing company Advanced Semiconductor Engineering said its revenues rose for its first financial quarter by 180 percent year on year, a further sign that the semi industry is on the rebound.

It turned in revenues of NT$37,555 million ($1,198,519,228) and net profit of NT$3,395 ($108,347,000) million.

Revenues were up 43 percent compared to its last financial quarter.

ASE provides assembly, testing and material services. On the materials front, ASE works on developing substrate tech for low cost and high performance IC packaging.

Foundries put chips on allocation as demand exceeds supply

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) states consilidated revenues in March were $31.2 billion Taiwanese Dollar ($993.4 million), an improvement of 147.5 percent year over year.

Rumours also abound – TSMC is apparently going to buy the equipment of an unnamed Japanese IDM (Integrated Device Manufacturer) and use it to churn out CPUs, analogue ICs and the likes for the seller.

Hopefully the rumoured future client won’t be faced with the problems other fabless customers are having. Sources told TechEye last week they were on strict allocation, having to wait until TSMC can deliver their products.

Things are especially tough in the 40nm arena, as TSMC is responsible for 80 percent of worldwide capacity. Qualcomm, Nvidia and AMDATI have also placed large orders.

At AMD’s conference call last week, CEO Dirk Meyer said that demand exceeded supply, and Nvidia Fermi products also seem to be very thin on the ground.

Rivals UMC (United Microelectronics Corporation) and SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International) are also seeing revenue grow for their 65nm processes. Digitimes cites a Chinese language report saying 65nm is currently responsible for 20 percent of UMC’s revenue and will contribute 25 percent by the end of this year’s second quarter.

SMIC will see its 65nm process grow to 5 to 7 percent by the end of the first half and to between 10 and 15 percent in the fourth quarter.

TSMC sees sales head up

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) is the latest company to join the choir singing “Ode to Joy”. The world’s largest foundry said its net consolidated sales hit approximately NT$ 30.13 billion in February, 147.5% more than in February last year. Sequential growth (i.e. compared to January 2010), however, was flat.

Total revenues for the first two months were NT$60.27 billion, 138.2% more than in the same period of 2009.

TSMC’s miniature rival UMC yesterday reported revenue of NT$17.24 billion for both January and February, compared to a rather pale NT$6.29 billion one year ago.

Chip maker Texas Instruments is also set to profit from a global rebound. The company had to warn shareholders its sales will be higher than previously expected, namely $3.07 billion to $3.19 billion, not $2.95 billion to $3.19 billion.

TSMC, UMC sales fall sort of short

Sales in January took a prolonged stay in a jacuzzi, forgetting to climb and make Taiwan’s largest foundries TSMC and UMC happier than they were a few days ago.

TSMC said its sales in January were around NT$29.16 billion, 4.3 percent less than a month before. UMC had sales of NT$8.6 billion, instead of the expected NT$9 billion. In December, the second-largest foundry worldwide reported sales worth NT$9.29 billion.

Nonetheless, things really aren’t bad at all, especially when compared to last year January. On a year-over-year basis, TSMC increased sales by 129.6 percent. UMC managed to do 172.77 percent better than 12 months ago. TSMC expects sales to rise by 30 percent this year. The foundry has been hogging the top spot all to its self for ages. In a recent list, TSMC was top dog with sales of $8.98 billion, whilst number two UMC had to make-do with $2.82 billion sales.

Rising sales will also be a boon to equipment makers. Foundries shied away from investing in expensive new processes last year, however rising sales will lead to new orders for 40 nanometre process equipment. ASML said in January it had an order backlog of €1.85 billion, more than twice as much than last year.

GlobalFoundries is not in the running yet.

ASML takes a hit

Currently not-so popular maker of lithography systems ASML Holdings has unveiled it’s earnings for the full year 2009. The company saw net sales drop 46 percent from €2.96 billion in 2008 to €1.6 billion. Net profit turned to red ink and fell from €322.4 million to a loss of €150.93 million. The financial meltdown and generally rather poor state of the world economy thus seems to have hit ASML with a baseball bat.

Nonetheless, things aren’t all that dim. While the company’s goal of reaching net sales of €5 billion is still far off, the company has managed to garner a large order backlog for its equipment, far more so than a year earlier. ASML has orders worth €1.85 billion waiting to be rolled out, compared with merely €755 million at the end of 2008. The average selling price (ASP) per system has also risen considerably, according to the company. At the moment, the backlog amounts to 69 systems with an average selling price (ASP) of €28.9 million. End of December 2008, the total system backlog amounted to 41 systems with an ASP of €21.8 million.

ASML will set to profit from the switch to 40nm technology. Demand for ICs made in the 40 nanometre process has risen, leading to orders for older 40nm systems ASML had already written down. ASML still also has enough cash in its pocket, cash and cash equivalents amount to €1.04 billion.

ASML expects foundries and DRAM makers to start investing in new systems, with the pace picking up especially in the second quarter. For the first quarter, ASML sees net sales worth €700 million.