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Semiconductor Market to Grow By 17.3% in 2021 and Reach Potential Overcapacity by 2023, IDC Reports

IDC expects the semiconductor market to grow by 17.3% in 2021 versus 10.8% in 2020. According to IDC, the industry will see normalization and balance by the middle of 2022, with a potential for overcapacity in 2023 as larger scale capacity expansions begin to come online towards the end of 2022. Growth is driven by mobile phones, notebooks, servers, automotive, smart home, gaming, wearables, and Wi-Fi access points, with increased memory pricing. IC shortages are also expected to continue easing through 4Q21 as capacity additions accelerate.

"The semiconductor content story is intact and not only does it benefit the semiconductor companies, but the unit volume growth in many of the markets that they serve will also continue to drive very good growth for the semiconductor market," says Mario Morales, Group Vice President, Enabling Technologies and Semiconductors at IDC.

NVIDIA Founder and CEO Jensen Huang to Receive Prestigious Robert N. Noyce Award

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) today announced Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA and a trailblazer in building accelerated computing platforms, is the 2021 recipient of the industry's highest honor, the Robert N. Noyce Award. SIA presents the Noyce Award annually in recognition of a leader who has made outstanding contributions to the semiconductor industry in technology or public policy. Huang will accept the award at the SIA Awards Dinner on Nov. 18, 2021.

"Jensen Huang's extraordinary vision and tireless execution have greatly strengthened our industry, revolutionized computing, and advanced artificial intelligence," said John Neuffer, SIA president and CEO. "Jensen's accomplishments have fueled countless innovations—from gaming to scientific computing to self-driving cars—and he continues to advance technologies that will transform our industry and the world. We're pleased to recognize Jensen with the 2021 Robert N. Noyce Award for his many achievements in advancing semiconductor technology."

Samsung Electronics Announces Second Quarter 2021 Results

Samsung Electronics today reported financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2021. Total consolidated revenue was KRW 63.67 trillion, a 20% increase from the previous year and a record for the second quarter. Operating profit increased 34% from the previous quarter to KRW 12.57 trillion as market conditions improved in the memory market, operations normalized at the Austin foundry fab, and as effective global supply chain management (SCM) helped maintain solid profitability for the finished product businesses.

The Semiconductor business saw a significant improvement in earnings as memory shipments exceeded previous guidance and price increases were higher than expected, while the Company strengthened its cost competitiveness. For the Display Panel Business, a one-off gain and an increase in overall prices boosted profits.

Samsung 5 nm Node Struggles With Yields, Reports Indicate Less Than 50% Yielding

Semiconductor manufacturing is no easy task. Every company in that business knows that, and the hardships of silicon manufacturing have been felt by even the greatest players like Samsung and Intel. Today, according to the latest report from Business Korea, Samsung is again in trouble with its 5 nm node. It has been reported previously that Samsung is struggling with yields of its 5 nm node, however, we didn't know just how much until now. According to the sources over at Business Korea, Samsung's 5 nm semiconductor node is experiencing less than 50% yields. That means, for example, that out of 100 chips manufactured on a single silicon wafer, only half are functional. And that is not good at all.

Usually, for a node to go into high-volume manufacturing (HVM), the yielding rate needs to be around 95%. In case it is not at that level, manufacturing of that node is not very efficient and not very profitable. The V1 Line in Hwaseong, where this Samsung 5 nm is made, uses EUV tools to manufacture the new node. While the yields are currently below 50%, it is expected to improve as Samsung engineers tweak and tune the node and the tools that are running the facility. We can expect to hear more about the yields of this node in the coming months.

Intel Books Two 3 nm Processor Orders at TSMC Manufacturing Facilities

Intel's struggles with semiconductor manufacturing have been known for a very long time. Starting from its 10 nm design IP to the latest 7 nm delays, we have seen the company struggle to deliver its semiconductor nodes on time. On the other hand, Intel's competing companies are using 3rd party foundries to manufacture their designs and not worry about the yields of semiconductor nodes. Most of the time, that 3rd party company is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). Today, thanks to some reporting from Nikkei Asia, we are learning that Intel is tapping TSMC's capacities to manufacture some of the company's future processors.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Nikkei notes that: "Intel, America's biggest chipmaker, is working with TSMC on at least two 3-nm projects to design central processing units for notebooks and data center servers in an attempt to regain market share it has lost to Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia over the past few years. Mass production of these chips is expected to begin by the end of 2022 at the earliest." This means that we could expect to see some of the TSMC manufactured Intel processors by the year 2023/2024.

China Has Produced Over 140 Billion Chips So Far This Year

Chinese semiconductor production is hitting new all-time highs. According to the report coming from South China Morning Post, citing the source over at the National Bureau of Statistics, Chinese semiconductor production has grown 37.6% in May of 2021, compared to the same month in 2020. The total chip output resulted in 29.9 billion chips in May, which is quite an impressive growth. In the first five months of this year, Chinese chipmakers have produced an amazing 139.9 billion chips, meaning that at the time of writing that number is much greater. If we compare the same five-month period of 2020, we can see that the chip output has grown 48.3% this year.

While the number of chips produced is not an ideal metric to monitor the growth of semiconductors in China, it is an indication of just how much the Chinese semiconductor industry is growing. The 48.3% growth in chip output is not small by any means, and we can't wait to see the report for the whole year.

Applied Materials Breakthrough in Chip Wiring Enables Logic Scaling to 3nm and Beyond

Applied Materials, Inc. today unveiled a new way to engineer the wiring of advanced logic chips that enables scaling to the 3 nm node and beyond. While size reduction benefits transistor performance, the opposite is true in the interconnect wiring: smaller wires have greater electrical resistance which reduces performance and increases power consumption. Without a materials engineering breakthrough, interconnect via resistance would increase by a factor of 10 from the 7 nm node to the 3 nm node, negating the benefits of transistor scaling.

Applied Materials has developed a new materials engineering solution called the Endura Copper Barrier Seed IMS. It is an Integrated Materials Solution that combines seven different process technologies in one system under high vacuum: ALD, PVD, CVD, copper reflow, surface treatment, interface engineering and metrology. The combination replaces conformal ALD with selective ALD, eliminating a high-resistivity barrier at the via interface. The solution also includes copper reflow technology that enables void free gap fill in narrow features. Electrical resistance at the via contact interface is reduced by up to 50 percent, improving chip performance and power consumption, and enabling logic scaling to continue to 3 nm and beyond.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES and GlobalWafers Partnering to Expand Semiconductor Wafer Supply

GLOBALFOUNDRIES (GF ), the global leader in feature-rich semiconductor manufacturing, and GlobalWafers Co., Ltd. (GWC), one of the top silicon wafer manufacturers in the world, today announced an $800 million agreement to add 300 mm silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafer manufacturing and expand existing 200 mm SOI wafer production at GWC's MEMC facility in O'Fallon, Missouri.

The silicon wafers produced by GWC are key input materials for semiconductors and an integral part of GF's supply chain. The wafers are used in GF's multi-billion dollar manufacturing facilities, or fabs, where they are used to manufacture the computer chips that are pervasive and vital to the global economy. Today's announcement expands GF's domestic silicon wafer supply from the United States.

Samsung to Build a 5nm EUV Semiconductor Fab in Austin TX

Samsung Electronics plans to build a new cutting-edge semiconductor fab in Austin, Texas, according to an ETimes report. An official announcement to this effect will be made later today, when South Korean President Moon and U.S. President Biden are scheduled to hold their first Summit meeting, in Washington DC. The facility will offer third-party contract manufacturing of semiconductor chips on the 5 nanometer EUV process. Samsung has earmarked an investment of $18 billion toward the construction of this fab, which will be located close to the company's existing foundry in Texas, which manufactures chips on the 14 nm node. Samsung's investment is in response to rising demand of high-volume logic chips by major American firms such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Tesla.

TSMC Claims Breakthrough on 1nm Chip Production

TSMC in collaboration with the National Taiwan University (NTU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have made a significant breakthrough in the development of 1-nanometer chips. The joint announcement comes after IBM earlier this month published news of their 2-nanometer chip development. The researchers found that the use of semi-metal bismuth (Bi) as contact electrodes for the 2D matrix can greatly reduce resistance and increase current. This discovery was first made by the MIT team before then being further refined by TSMC and NTU which will increase energy efficiency and performance in future processors. The 1-nanometer node won't be deployed for several years with TSMC planning to start 3-nanometer production in H2 2022.

South Korea Unveils Ambitious $450 Billion Semiconductor Manufacturing Investment Plan

The South Korean government, along with 153 Korean companies, has unveiled an ambitious plan to invest USD $450 billion over the next decade, to make its semiconductor manufacturing industry globally competitive, as China and the U.S. are executing similar national plans of their own, which threaten to blunt South Korea's competitiveness in the industry. Leading the effort will be Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix.

Samsung will be spending over $151 billion through 2030 in expanding its manufacturing facilities, while SK Hynix will spend $97 billion to expand its existing facilities; in addition to $106 billion planned to build four new fabs in the Yongin. Both Samsung and SK Hynix are predominantly memory companies, manufacturing DRAM and NAND flash products. This means that while Korea is globally competitive in semiconductor manufacturing overall, it is relying mainly on memory dies, and not logic dies (chips such as ASICs, CPUs, GPUs, SoCs, FPGAs, etc). The two could put in efforts to change this, so their foundry capacity attracts fabless logic IC companies away from Taiwan's TSMC, which specializes in logic over memory.

TSMC Briefly Hit by "Power Supply Dip," Production Unaffected

TSMC on Thursday (May 13), was briefly hit by what the company described as a "power supply dip" caused by an island-wide power outage. The outage caused concerns that production at TSMC could be hit, worsening the chip supply situation. Semiconductor fabrication is a highly power-sensitive operation, and any power-loss could result in tremendous loses to the fab from the running batches going to waste. The fabs have redundant power backup to cope with such situations, but these can only pull through until power from the grid is restored. TSMC and UMC have each reported that their fabs located in science parks (special economic zones) throughout Taiwan, have been unaffected by the outage, and that their power-backup measures have come through. Power supply from the grid was restored by Thursday evening.

2021 COMPUTEX Forum Brings Tech Giants Together to Unlock the Secret of Future Technologies

As one of the most important tech summits globally, COMPUTEX Forum and its discussion topics have always garnered great attention. To facilitate the discussion on future technology trends, the COMPUTEX Forum on June 2 and 3 will evolve around the theme of "The New Era of Intelligence." TAITRA announced the lineup of speakers to discuss key applications of 5G, AI, IoT, and electric vehicles, deep diving into business strategies in the post-pandemic era.

In the morning of Wednesday, June 2, COMPUTEX Forum will address the topic of "AIoT Evolution." Leading semiconductor giants such as Intel, Micron, NVIDIA and Supermicro, will explore how they accelerate business opportunities in the 5G era. In the afternoon, NXP Semiconductors will kick off the "AI Empowerment" session by sharing its vision and lead the Secure Edge and AI Empowerment discussions in fields. As AI rises in various applications, Arm, Delta Electronics, Micron and Check Point Software will elaborate their latest solution in different scopes.

Big Tech and Lobby: Semiconductors in America Coalition (SIAC) Founded With Microsoft, Apple, Intel, AMD, TSMC, Others

Since lobbying is both legal and regulated in the US (an attempt to bring attempts of influencing political power by corporations under legal boundaries, as opposed to being done in the dark), it feels like it was only a matter of time before big tech attempted to join under one banner. As such, the Semiconductors in America Coalition (SIAC) has now been put together, and boasts of 64 members including Microsoft, Apple, TSMC, Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, Arm, and Samsung. It seems that all of these companies - which are often at odds with one another when it comes to competing for consumers' choice and money - have found enough similarities to get organized in an attempt to nudge political power in their favor.

SIAC said in a press release that its mission is to "advance federal policies that promote semiconductor manufacturing and research in the U.S. to strengthen America's economy, national security, and critical infrastructure." The first announcement from the SIAC following its foundation was its intention to support the CHIPS for America Act. The Act (supported by The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and President Joe Biden) has already been approved by the House and the Senate as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2021 but has not yet been funded. It seems that SIAC's first mission is to get the government to open up its $50 billion-deep pockets.

Samsung to Replace Intel as Top Semiconductor Supplier in Q2-2021: IC Insights

Samsung Electronics is expected to regain the distinction of the top semiconductor supplier for the 2nd quarter of 2021, re-taking the lead from Intel, according to a report by market research firm IC Insights. Samsung's growth rides on the back of a resurgent memory market, as the company supplies both DRAM and NAND flash of various types. This is also helped by the fact that Intel's sales in are expected to remain flat around the same period of time. This would be Samsung's return to the top spot for the first time since 2018, when memory prices crashed, sending down production, in a bid to better allow the channel to digest existing inventory.

IBM Announces World's First 2nm Chip Technology

IBM today unveiled a breakthrough in semiconductor design and process with the development of the world's first chip announced with 2 nanometer (nm) nanosheet technology. Semiconductors play critical roles in everything from computing, to appliances, to communication devices, transportation systems, and critical infrastructure.

Demand for increased chip performance and energy efficiency continues to rise, especially in the era of hybrid cloud, AI, and the Internet of Things. IBM's new 2 nm chip technology helps advance the state-of-the-art in the semiconductor industry, addressing this growing demand. It is projected to achieve 45 percent higher performance, or 75 percent lower energy use, than today's most advanced 7 nm node chips.

TSMC Employs AMD EPYC CPUs for Mission-Critical Manufacturing

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the maker of various kinds of silicon products, is the manufacturer of AMD's EPYC processors. However, have you ever questioned what CPUs are actually behind TSMC? The answer to that question is quite simple. Today, we have come to know that TSMC is using AMD EPYC processors to power their manufacturing infrastructure and tape out thousands of wafers per month. AMD has published TSMC's case study, which pointed out that the total cost of ownership has been the main challenge of the Taiwanese company. By using AMD EPYC 7702P and 7F72 CPUs, TSMC addresses the need for both reliable and high-performing server infrastructure to power the manufacturing efforts. For research and development purposes, TSMC chose the 7F72 with 24 cores and a high clock speed of 3.2 GHz, which is ideal for the company needs and purposes.

For more details about TSMC's choices and solutions, read the case study here.

UMC Investing $3.6 billion on 28 nm Manufacturing Capabilities Amidst Worldwide Semiconductor Shortages

UMC has announced plans to invest $3.6 billion in increasing output from its 28 nm manufacturing facilities. This move comes amidst a global semiconductor shortage, and isn't the first time a semiconductor manufacturer "dust off" their older manufacturing processes as a way to remove pressure from more modern silicon manufacturing capabilities. In this case, UMC will be increasing manufacturing output from its 300 mm Fab 12A facility in Tainan, Taiwan.

UMC has entered agreements with some of its clients, who will be paying upfront for expected chip rollout in the future. In exchange, clients will get the benefits of preset pricing (thus avoiding any potential increases arising from increased demand or general price fluctuation), as well as UMC's assurance of certain manufacturing volume allocation towards their needs. Fab 12A currently manufactures 90,000 300 mm wafers per month (wpm). An additional 10,000 wpm is being installed this year and phase six will add another 27,500 wpm to the mix. The mature 28 nm tools will be installed in floors that already feature support for future tooling upgrades to 14 nm. UMC expects to hire around 1,000 additional employees as part of this expansion effort.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Integrates its Corporate HQ with Fab 8 New York

GLOBALFOUNDRIES (GF), the global leader in feature-rich semiconductor manufacturing, announced today at an onsite event with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that it will relocate its headquarters to Malta, New York, the site of Fab 8, the company's most advanced semiconductor manufacturing facility—as the company positions itself for growth, strengthens partnerships with customers and recruits new talent. This change is effective today.

GF has invested more than $15 billion in its Fab 8 facility over the last decade to support innovation and manufacturing capacity. In 2021, the company is doubling its planned investment to expand global capacity, with $500 million targeted for Malta, NY alone.

The move from GF's previous headquarters to its state-of-the-art fab in New York is part of the company's commitment to address the soaring global chip demand, with a focus on semiconductor manufacturing innovation. GF will maintain a substantial presence in Santa Clara, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley, where many of GF's leading U.S. customers and ecosystem partners are based.

Foundry Revenue Projected to Reach Historical High of US$94.6 Billion in 2021 Thanks to High 5G/HPC/End-Device Demand, Says TrendForce

As the global economy enters the post-pandemic era, technologies including 5G, WiFi6/6E, and HPC (high-performance computing) have been advancing rapidly, in turn bringing about a fundamental, structural change in the semiconductor industry as well, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. While the demand for certain devices such as notebook computers and TVs underwent a sharp uptick due to the onset of the stay-at-home economy, this demand will return to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic has been brought under control as a result of the global vaccination drive. Nevertheless, the worldwide shift to next-gen telecommunication standards has brought about a replacement demand for telecom and networking devices, and this demand will continue to propel the semiconductor industry, resulting in high capacity utilization rates across the major foundries. As certain foundries continue to expand their production capacities this year, TrendForce expects total foundry revenue to reach a historical high of US$94.6 billion this year, an 11% growth YoY.

2020 Global Semiconductor Equipment Sales Surge 19% to Industry Record $71.2 Billion, SEMI Reports

Worldwide sales of semiconductor manufacturing equipment surged 19% from $59.8 billion in 2019 to a new all-time high of $71.2 billion in 2020, SEMI, the industry association representing the global electronics product design and manufacturing supply chain, reported today. The data is now available in the Worldwide Semiconductor Equipment Market Statistics (WWSEMS) Report.

For the first time, China claimed the largest market for new semiconductor equipment with sales growth of 39% to $18.72 billion. Sales in Taiwan, the second-largest equipment market, remained flat in 2020 with sales of $17.15 billion after showing strong growth in 2019. Korea registered 61% growth to $16.08 billion to maintain the third position. Annual spending also increased 21% in Japan and 16% in Europe as both regions are recovering from the contraction in 2019. Receipts in North America decreased 20% in 2020 following three years of consecutive growth.

Global Semiconductor Sales Up 14.7% Year-to-Year in February, Says SIA

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) today announced global semiconductor industry sales were $39.6 billion for the month of February 2021, an increase of 14.7% over the February 2020 total of $34.5 billion, but 1.0% less than the January 2021 total of $40.0 billion. Monthly sales are compiled by the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization and represent a three-month moving average. SIA represents 98% of the U.S. semiconductor industry by revenue and nearly two-thirds of non-U.S. chip firms.

"Global semiconductor sales during the first two months of the year have outpaced sales from early in 2020, when the pandemic began to spread in parts of the world," said John Neuffer, SIA president and CEO. "Sales into the China market saw the largest year-to-year growth, largely because sales there were down substantially early last year."

Intel Could Rename its Semiconductor Nodes to Catch Up with the Industry

In the past few years, Intel has struggled a lot with its semiconductor manufacturing. Starting from the 10 nm fiasco, the company delayed the new node for years and years, making it seem like it is never going to get delivered. The node was believed to be so advanced that it was unexpectedly hard to manufacture, giving the company more problems. Low yields have been present for a long time, and it is only recently that Intel has started shipping its 10 nm products. However, its competitor, TSMC, has been pumping out nodes at an amazing rate. At the time of writing, the Taiwanese giant is producing the 5 nm node, with a 4 nm node on the way.

So to remain competitive, Intel would need to apply a new tactic. The company has a 7 nm node in the works for 2023 when TSMC will switch to the 3 nm+ nodes. That represents a marketing problem, where the node naming convention is making Intel inferior to its competitors. To fix that, the company will likely start node renaming and give its nodes new names, that are corresponding to the industry naming conventions. We still have no information how will the new names look like, or if Intel will do it in the first place, so take this with a grain of salt.

Strong Growth Expected for Third-Generation Semiconductors in 2021, Says TrendForce

The third-generation semiconductor industry was impaired by the US-China trade war and the COVID-19 pandemic successively from 2018 to 2020, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. During this period, the semiconductor industry on the whole saw limited upward momentum, in turn leading to muted growth for the 3rd gen semiconductor segment as well. However, this segment is likely to enter a rapid upturn owing to high demand from automotive, industrial, and telecom applications. In particular, the GaN power device market will undergo the fastest growth, with a $61 million revenue, a 90.6% YoY increase, projected for 2021.

TSMC Could Build Six GigaFabs in Arizona

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), one of the largest manufacturers of silicon, is seemingly making plans to build as many as six of its US-based fabs in Arizona. According to the unconfirmed report coming from UDN, TSMC could be building its Arizona-based factories for much larger capacities. Based on TSMC's classifications, the MegaFab-class of factories is the one with 25,000 WSPM output. According to the report, TSMC plans to build six additional facilities in the area where the Arizona fab is, and have a GigaFab-class (even larger type) factory present on US soil. Currently, the company operates six GigaFabs and all of them are based in Taiwan.

The GigaFab class factory is supposed to have over 100,000 WSPM output, and by building one in the US, TSMC could get much closer to big customers like Apple, NVIDIA, and AMD. Reports are saying that TSMC's primary target is 3 nm node production on 12-inch (300 mm) wafers. All six of the supposed facilities are expected to output more than 100,000 wafers at their peak, making it one of the largest projects TSMC has ever done. The Arizona location is supposed to serve as a "mega fab" facility and it is supposed to start manufacturing silicon in 2024. This information is, of course, just a rumor so you should take it with a grain of salt, as this type of information is usually only known by top-level management.
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