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Teledyne e2v Introduces First Radiation-Tolerant DDR4 Memory for Space Applications

Teledyne e2v has announced the DDR4T04G72M - the first radiation-tolerant DDR4 memory chip, featuring a total 4 GB capacity. Currently validated at 2133 MT/s, and targeting to offer 2400MT/s in the near future, this next-generation solution offers ultra-responsive low latency operation, while fitting into a highly compact form factor. Furthermore, high-reliability manufacturing and radiation-tolerant robustness makes it highly suitable for dealing with the rigors of space environments.

With 15 mm x 20 mm x 1.92 mm dimensions, this new space-grade device comprises an array of Micron based memory chips, integrated in a single package. It features a 72-bit bus, where 64 bits are dedicated to data and 8 bits to error correction code (ECC). Radiation tests have been performed on these memory chips and a single event effects (SEE) report is available from Teledyne e2v. In particular, the memory has been demonstrated to be single event latch-up (SEL) free up to 60+ MeV.cm²/mg.

Researchers Propose New Density Metric for Semiconductor Technology

In today's world, fabrication process identification of semiconductor technology has become little more than marketing fluff. Whereas not that long ago, fabrication processes could (mostly) be directly compared on the basis of transistor density (ie, 300 nm, 32 nm, 14 nm, and now 7 nm), recent advances in manufacturing technologies and their end terminology have lost all significance when it comes to actually describe how density that process is. The way manufacturers measured this semiconductor density used to directly refer to the minimum gate length in transistors fabricated in a given process - that, is, in 300 nm, the minimum gate length that could be achieved was 300 nanometers, in 32 nm, 32 nanometres, and so on. As of now, that isn't happening - which is why we've got Intel saying that its 10 nm fabrication process will be comparable to TSMC's current 7 nm process.

This leads to a number of difficulties for interested parties to actually glean any meaningful information from this particular semiconductor metric alone. Now, a team of researchers has tackled this problem by suggesting a different way to express semiconductor manufacturing capability. Their intention is to allow to "gauge advances in future generations of semiconductor technologies in a holistic way, by accounting for the progress in logic, memory, and packaging/integration technologies simultaneously." As such, their proposed density metric follows a [DL, DM, DC] philosophy, where DL is the density of logic transistors (in #/mm²), DM is the bit density of main memory (currently the off-chip DRAM density, in #/mm²), and DC is the density of connections between the main memory and logic (in #/mm²). The researchers say that current top semiconductor technology density available would be described by this system as [38M, 383M, 12K].

Intel Regains Top Position in Semiconductor Market

Intel has regained its position of semiconductor leader by revenue from Samsung for the 2019 period. Intel had been trailing Samsung for the last 2 years but after a decline in DRAM demand Intel reclaimed the leading position. The overall semiconductor market saw revenue drops of 12% in 2019 which hit other companies worse than Intel.

Andrew Norwood, research VP at Gartner says: "Oversupply in the DRAM market helped push the overall memory market down 32.7% 2019. The memory market accounted for 26.1% of semiconductor sales in 2019 and was the worst-performing device segment,". Samsung being a large DRAM supplier was hit hard by this compared to Intel with limited memory production. Gartner the research firm has also cut its global semiconductor market outlook this year to a 0.9% dip from the 12.5% growth estimated at the end of 2019 due to the effects of COVID-19.

Huawei Moves 14 nm Silicon Orders from TSMC to SMIC

Huawei's subsidiary, HiSilicon, which designs the processors used in Huawei's smartphones and telecommunications equipment, has reportedly moved its silicon orders from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), according to DigiTimes. Why Huawei decided to do is move all of the 14 nm orders from Taiwanese foundry to China's largest silicon manufacturing fab, is to give itself peace of mind if the plan of the US Government goes through to stop TSMC from supplying Huawei. At least for the mid-tier chips built using 14 nm node, Huawei would gain some peace as a Chinese fab is a safer choice given the current political situation.

When it comes to the high-end SoCs built on 7 nm, and 5 nm in the future, it is is still uncertain how will Huawei behave in this situation, meaning that if US cuts off TSMC's supply to Huawei, they will be forced to use SMIC's 7 nm-class N+1 node instead of anything from TSMC. Another option would be Samsung, but it is a question will Huawei put itself in risk to be dependant on another foreign company. The lack of 14 nm orders from Huawei will not be reflecting much on TSMC, because whenever someone decides to cut orders, another company takes up the manufacturing capactiy. For example, when Huawei cut its 5 nm orders, Apple absorbed by ordering more capacity. When Huawei also cut 7 nm orders, AMD and other big customers decided to order more, making the situation feel like there is a real fight for TSMC's capacity.
Silicon Wafer

Gartner Forecasts Worldwide Semiconductor Revenue to Decline 0.9% in 2020 Due to Coronavirus Impact

Due to the impact of the coronavirus on semiconductor supply and demand, worldwide semiconductor revenue is forecast to decline 0.9% in 2020, according to Gartner, Inc. This is down from the previous quarter's forecast of 12.5% growth.

"The wide spread of COVID-19 across the world and the resulting strong actions by governments to contain the spread will have a far more severe impact on demand than initially predicted," said Richard Gordon, research practice vice president at Gartner. "This year's forecast could have been worse, but growth in memory could prevent a steep decline."
Gartner WorldWide Semiconductor Revenue Forcast

SMIC 7nm-class N+1 Foundry Node Going Live by Q4-2020

China's state-backed SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation) has set an ambitious target of Q4-2020 for its 7 nanometer-class N+1 foundry node to go live, achieving "small scale production," according to a cnTechPost report. The company has a lot of weight on its shoulders as geopolitical hostility between the U.S. and China threatens to derail the country's plans to dominate 5G technology markets around the world. The SMIC N+1 node is designed to improve performance by 20%, reduce chip power consumption by 57%, reduce logic area by 63%, and reduce SoC area by 55%, in comparison to the SMIC's 14 nm FinFET node, Chinese press reports citing a statement from SMIC's co-CEO Dr. Liang Mengsong.

Dr. Liang confirmed that the N+1 7 nm node and its immediate successor will not use EUV lithography. N+1 will receive a refinement in the form of N+2, with modest chip power consumption improvement goals compared to N+1. This is similar to SMIC's 12 nm FinFET node being a refinement of its 14 nm FinFET node. Later down its lifecycle, once the company has got a handle of its EUV lithography equipment, N+2 could receive various photomasks, including a switch to EUV at scale.

TSMC to Hire 4000 new Staff for Next-Generation Semiconductor Node Development

TSMC is set to hire about 4000 new staff members to gain a workforce for its development of next-generation semiconductor manufacturing nodes. The goal of the company is to gather talent so it can develop the world's leading semiconductor nodes, like 3 nm and below. With 15 billion USD planned for R&D purposes alone this year, TSMC is investing a big part of its capital back into development on new and improved technology. Markets such as 5G and High-Performance Computing are leading the charge and require smaller, faster, and more efficient semiconductor nodes, which TSMC plans to deliver. To gather talent, TSMC started job listing using recruitment website TaiwanJobs and started campaigns on university campuses to attract grad students.

TrendForce: The Effect of the Covid-19 Corona Virus Measured on Tech Industry

The following analysis shows TrendForce's investigations of key component and other downstream technology industries, under the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, with the latest data as of February 14, 2020.

Semiconductors
Compared to the OSAT industry, the foundry industry has a much higher degree of fab automation and thus is less impacted by the outbreak. But because most workers at semiconductor manufacturing sites in China come from out of town, labor shortages and traffic restrictions will lower work resumption rates at foundries more than expected. In the short term, fab utilization rates may not make a full recovery. As a result, given that the outbreak has not yet been effectively contained, TrendForce is projecting a possible decline in shipment for the Chinese foundry industry in 1Q20, in turn affecting downstream Chinese OSAT companies. The industry's overall performance recovery remains to be seen.

Arm Delivers New Edge Processor IPs for IoT

Today, Arm announced significant additions to its artificial intelligence (AI) platform, including new machine learning (ML) IP, the Arm Cortex -M55 processor and Arm Ethos -U55 NPU, the industry's first microNPU (Neural Processing Unit) for Cortex-M, designed to deliver a combined 480x leap in ML performance to microcontrollers. The new IP and supporting unified toolchain enable AI hardware and software developers with more ways to innovate as a result of unprecedented levels of on-device ML processing for billions of small, power-constrained IoT and embedded devices.

Minute-long Power Outage at Samsung Plant Damages Millions Worth DRAM and NAND

A tiny minute-long power-outage halted production at a Samsung Electronics plant in Hwaseong, South Korea, according to a Reuters report citing Korean news agency Yonhap. This stopped some production lines of DRAM and NAND flash memory. A source with "direct knowledge of the matter" told Reuters that the outage likely caused millions of Dollars in losses to Samsung. Semiconductor manufacturing in general is a very power-sensitive process, and a stoppage at any of its manufacturing stages can result in wasted batches; not to mention the time lost to recovery. For instance, a 30-minute power outage in 2018 inflicted a $43.32 million loss to Samsung.

The cause of the power outage on Tuesday afternoon (31st December), is said to be a fault with a regional transmission cable. It will take Samsung up to two days (mid-Thursday) to get the production line rolling again. On the flipside, the resulting drop in output could help Samsung push out its swelling NAND flash and DRAM inventory, reports Yonhap, citing an analyst.

TSMC Becomes Asia's Most Valuable Company

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Limited, also known as TSMC shortly became Asia's biggest and the most valuable company with a market cap of over 8.02 trillion New Taiwan Dollars, which roughly translates to 262.75 billion US Dollars. Becoming the biggest Asian company, TSMC's market capitalization has now surpassed Samsung for the first time in the history of company existence.

The underlying reasons for becoming a company that TSMC is today, are plenty. Firstly, they are providing customers with the flexibility of choosing any manufacturing node, whatever it is the latest 7 nm or the older ones like 180 nm. They have a choice whatever they want to use something older and less expensive or something newer for high-performance and lower power. Additionally, TSMC is re-investing a big part of its profits into research and development efforts to stay competitive and deliver only the best technology to its customers, on time.

Panasonic Exits Silicon Manufacturing Business

Panasonic, an electronics manufacturing giant, has today sold its silicon manufacturing business, marking the end of an era of Japanese semiconductor manufacturing. Once a big player in silicon manufacturing scene, particularly in the '80s and '90s era when Japan's silicon output was huge, Panasonic was considered one of the main players in the silicon manufacturing business. However, due to some difficulties like operating a business with a loss of over $215 million yearly, and having to compete with Chinese and Taiwanese silicon manufacturing firms, Panasonic is selling its silicon production lines.

The subsidiary of Panasonic called "Semiconductors Solutions" is being sold to Nuvoton Technology Corporation, a semiconductor company that spun-off from Winbond Electronics Corporation in 2008, where Winbond still owns 61% stake in Nuvoton despite the spinoff. Additionally, Panasonic forecasts a 27% drop in operating profit for this physical year, with the declining semiconductor manufacturing business counted. The reasoning behind this sale is that the company plans to exit all declining businesses that also include LCD manufacturing, as Chinese alternative manufacturers are stiff competition for Panasonic when it comes to pricing and panel output.

Intel Takes the Crown of World's Largest Semiconductor Supplier in 2019

Intel is set to become the world's largest semiconductor supplier of 2019, according to the research from IC Insights. Intel held a crown for the largest semiconductor supplier since 1992, until 2018 when Samsung overtook it because of the booming DRAM business driven by high demand and not enough supply. Being Samsung's main business, any DRAM price/demand fluctuation was having a massive impact on its business. Due to high demand and high pricing, Samsung saw a massive revenue jump which resulted in a new king of the world's largest semiconductor supplier.

However, having seen predictions for a fall of 34% for this year, the decrease in demand will result in lower revenue for all DRAM market suppliers. SK Hynix, Micron and Samsung are expecting their revenues to decline around 29% on a year-over-year basis given the situation. This is resulting in lower revenue for Samsung than Intel has, and makes Intel the king of semiconductors once more. Intel's revenue is expected to reach around 70 billion USD, which is similar to last year's numbers.

Globalfoundries Files Patent-infringement Lawsuits Against TSMC in the U.S. and Germany

GLOBALFOUNDRIES (GF), the world's leading specialty foundry based in the United States, today filed multiple lawsuits in the U.S. and Germany alleging that semiconductor manufacturing technologies used by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Ltd. (TSMC) infringe 16 GF patents. The lawsuits were filed today in the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), the U.S. Federal District Courts in the Districts of Delaware and the Western District of Texas, and the Regional Courts of Dusseldorf and Mannheim in Germany.

In filing the lawsuits, GF seeks orders that will prevent semiconductors produced with the infringing technology by Taiwan-based TSMC, the dominant semiconductor manufacturer, from being imported into the U.S. and Germany. These lawsuits require GF to name certain major customers of TSMC and downstream electronics companies, who, in most cases, are the actual importers of the products that incorporate the infringing TSMC technology. GF also seeks significant damages from TSMC based on TSMC's unlawful use of GF's proprietary technology in its tens of billions of dollars of sales.

Semiconductor Chip Sales Suffer Fourth Largest Decline in 35 Years

According to the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization, the semiconductor manufacturing world has just seen one of the largest contractions in the last 35 years. The downturn on produced revenue for manufacturers for the month of March consolidated into a decline of 1.8% compared to February of this year, and a decline of 13% when compared to March 2018 - but quarter-reviewed revenues were even worse. In greenback terms, the semiconductor industry saw a decline from $114.7 billion in the previous quarter to "just" $96.8 billion.

The decline was across all semiconductor product categories, as John Neuffer, president and CEO of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) trade group, said: "Sales in March decreased on a year-to-year basis across all major regional markets and semiconductor product categories, consistent with the cyclical trend the global market has experienced recently." Market analysis firm IC Insights says that the decline was more severe than the WSTS reports, and that it totaled a 17.1% reduction in revenue for the first quarter of this year, making it the fourth biggest decline since 1984. As IC Insights said in a statement, "The first quarter is usually the weakest quarter of the year for the IC market, averaging a sequential decline of 2.1% over the past 36 years, but the severity of the 1Q19/4Q18 IC market drop has started this year off at a very low level."

GlobalFoundries and ON Semi Partner to Transfer Ownership of East Fishkill NY 300mm Fab

ON Semiconductor Corporation and GLOBALFOUNDRIES today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for ON Semiconductor to acquire a 300 mm fab located in East Fishkill, New York. The total consideration for the acquisition is $430 million, of which $100 million has been paid at signing of the definitive agreement, and $330 million will be paid at the end of 2022, after which ON Semiconductor will gain full operational control of the fab, and the site's employees will transition to ON Semiconductor. Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.

The agreement allows ON Semiconductor to increase its 300 mm production at the East Fishkill fab over several years, and allows for GLOBALFOUNDRIES to transition its numerous technologies to the company's three other at-scale 300 mm sites. Under the terms of the agreement, GLOBALFOUNDRIES will manufacture 300 mm wafers for ON Semiconductor until the end of 2022. First production of 300 mm wafers for ON Semiconductor is expected to start in 2020.

Toshiba Consolidates Two of its Semiconductor Subsidiaries

Toshiba Electronic Devices & Storage Corporation (TDSC) today announced the consolidation of two of its subsidiaries, Toshiba Microelectronics Corporation (TOSMEC) and Toshiba Discrete Semiconductor Technology Corporation (TDIT), into a new company, Toshiba Electronic Device Solutions Corporation (TEDS). The move is expected to strengthen capabilities in proposing solutions and bringing greater efficiency to R&D for the semiconductor business. TEDS will start operation on April 1.

TDIT's business covers product development and technical sales for discrete semiconductors, while TOSMEC provides comprehensive services for system LSI, ranging from product planning, development and design to testing and failure analysis. Following the merger, TEDS will be responsible for product planning, product development, failure analysis and solution proposals for the semiconductor business, and will cooperate with TDSC as the engineering arm of its semiconductor business.

China-based SMIC to Start Manufacture of 14 nm-class Chips in 2H 2019

As R&D costs for new, smaller manufacturing nodes grow at unprecedented rates across the industry, a new player is set to enter the 14 nm process manufacture competition: China-based SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation). The company is looking to throw its hat on the lucrative 14 nm process, filling its offerings portfolio under the 28 nm it currently offers as its denser process.

The company expects its 95% yield rate to offer its customers a trusted platform that might help it increase revenue for further investment on its 10 nm and 7 nm EUV nodes, which the company is pursuing (despite other industry veterans, such as former AMD-manufacturing arm GLOBALFOUNDRIES having ceased development on). Manufacturing technology that's competitive with the western world's, and that's developed in-country, is paramount for China's intention of reducing its dependence of foreign technology, which is why this is such a big step for the company and the company's aspirations.

TSMC Cleared to Build New 3 nm Manufacturing Factory in Southern Taiwan

The world's largest contract semiconductor manufacturing company, TSMC, has been cleared to commence construction of a new 3 nm chip factory at the Southern Taiwan Science Park in Tainan. The new factory is expected to use 20 percent renewable energy and 50 percent recycled water.

The factory's environmental impact assessment was accepted by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) on Dec. 19, after concerns were raised about use of water and power sources. TSMC is expected to invest NT$600 million (US$19.45 million) in the project, with construction to begin in 2022. Production is planned to start in late 2022 or early 2023. At the same site, TSMC is also building a 5 nm chip factory, which is expected to be up and running in late 2019 or early 2020.

It Does Matter How You Spin it - Spintronics Could be Answer to Future Semiconductor Technologies

It's only a matter of time before microchip production as we know it disappears entirely, at least for leading-edge tech designs. Either via new materials applied to trusted techniques (such as carbon coating/nanotubes) or entirely new and exotic fabrication technologies, we're rapidly approaching the limits of traditional silicon-based microchips. One solution to the problem, as it stands, might be found in spintronics - an interesting concept which bases processing and data retention not simply on whether current is being applied to a given transistor (as is the case for current silicon chips), but on a property of electrons called spin. Crucially, changing the magnetic orientation of electrons requires but a single charge, instead of a continued supply of power - which allows for much lower power consumption and heat output, two of the encroaching, limiting factors for the usual chips.

AMD President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su Bestowed with GSA Exemplary Leadership Award

Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) will honor industry visionary and innovator Dr. Lisa Su, President and CEO, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), with the prestigious Dr. Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award at its highly-anticipated Annual Awards Dinner to be held in Santa Clara, California, on December 6, 2018.

Established in 1999, the Dr. Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award recognizes individuals for their exceptional contributions, exemplifying how their vision and global leadership have transformed and elevated the entire semiconductor industry. The selection of Dr. Su is based on her ongoing technological contributions, exceptional business acumen, status as a positive and inspiring role model, and wide ranging respect among the technology industry and business community.

Samsung Unveils 256-Gigabyte 3DS DDR4 RDIMM, Other Datacenter Innovations

Samsung Electronics, a world leader in advanced semiconductor technology, today announced several groundbreaking additions to its comprehensive semiconductor ecosystem that encompass next-generation technologies in foundry as well as NAND flash, SSD (solid state drive) and DRAM. Together, these developments mark a giant step forward for Samsung's semiconductor business.

"Samsung's technology leadership and product breadth are unparalleled," said JS Choi, President, Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. "Bringing 7 nm EUV into production is an incredible achievement. Also, the announcements of SmartSSD and 256GB 3DS RDIMM represent performance and capacity breakthroughs that will continue to push compute boundaries. Together, these additions to Samsung's comprehensive technology ecosystem will power the next generation of datacenters, high-performance computing (HPC), enterprise, artificial intelligence (AI) and emerging applications."

Rollercoaster Monday for AMD as it Loses Jim Anderson, Closes Above $25 in Stock Price

It has been a rollercoaster Monday for AMD as it bled yet another bright executive. Jim Anderson, who led Computing and Graphics Group after the departure of Raja Koduri, and who is rumored to have conceived the idea of Threadripper and the client-segment monetization of the "Zen" architecture, left AMD to become CEO of Lattice Semiconductor, a company that designs FPGAs. Anderson will be paid an inducement award of company shares valued up to $2.9 million.

On the same day, AMD stock crossed $25 to close at $25.26 up 5.34 percent, a historic high since way back in 2006 as Intel was beginning to regain its footing with its Core processor family. This raises the company's market cap to $22.9 billion. AMD is better funded than ever (in over 12 years), to start a new GPU project, for example. CTO Mark Papermaster, in a company blog post assured customers that AMD is going all-in with 7 nanometer, and it could bank more heavily on TSMC to achieve its roadmap goals of first-to-market 7 nm CPU and GPU by end of the year.

Samsung Introduces High-Density 6Gbps SATA SSD and 16Gb-64GB DDR4 RDIMM

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., the world leader in advanced memory technology, today announced that it is rolling out its PM883, the highest density datacenter SATA drive, at eight terabytes (TB). Samsung's new solid state drive (SSD) offering is the industry's first datacenter SATA drive to incorporate LPDDR4 DRAM modules and features a 6.0-gigabits-per-second (Gbps) 2.5-inch SATA interface.

The high-performance PM883 is expected to accelerate a transition in many existing enterprise datacenters to SATA-formatted SSD designs, with improved economies of scale through the use of advanced-generation V-NAND technology at higher densities.

"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to enable a high level of storage density with low power consumption, which thanks to the efficiency of our 64-layer V-NAND-based technology, allows us to double the capacity of current SATA storage," said Jim Elliott, corporate senior vice president, memory sales and marketing, Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. "Our expanded lineup for the PM883 will offer up to 8TB to allow optimal use in existing enterprise and cloud storage systems."

Samsung to Invest $27.7 billion On Second Pyeongtaek Semiconductor Plant

Samsung's management committee has reportedly convened this morning, February 7th, to officially approve an investment plan on a new semicondctor manufacturing facility. Reports say this new factory is expected to be built on Pyeongtaek, the same general location as Samsung's current Pyeongtaek Fab 1. The investment plan is being made with plans for the plant to start production of the "P2-Project" plant during the first half of 2019.

Giving credence to these industry reports is the fact that Samsung has already celebrate gas pipeline contracts with companies (such as Wonik Holdings), just last month, in preparation for this new fab construction. It's as of yet unclear what specific plan the company has for the new factory, though it will certainly inject extraordinary new amounts of volume to Samsung's various foundry businesses. With two years of construction since it broke ground in May, 2015, the original fabrication line at the Pyeongtaek campus is currently the largest single Fab in the industry; in the face of this, it seems that a "first half of 2019" starting date for semiconductor production at Samsung's new manufacturing facilities may be slightly optimistic. However, those plans start to sound a little more on the doable side if one considers these might actually be plans for an expansion of the current Pyeongtaek Fab 1 facilities, plans for which the company has already announced back in July 2017.
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