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Samsung Scores PC CPU Manufacturing Order from Intel

Samsung has reportedly secured a "PC CPU" manufacturing order from Intel. This would entail Intel using Samsung's fabs to manufacture its processors. "PC CPU" is a broad term, interchangeable with "client CPU," and could include both notebook and desktop processors, spanning the "S," "H," "U," and "Y" silicon variants (mainstream desktop, mainstream notebook, ultrabook, and ultra low-power, respectively). Samsung's bouquet of contract-manufacturing covers not just silicon fabrication across 14 nm, but also sub 10 nm nodes, but also provides other key stages of processor manufacturing, including bumping and packaging. Intel would want minimal expenditure in adapting its chip designs to Samsung's nodes

In her November 20 letter addressed to Intel's customers, executive V-P and GM for sales, marketing, and communications, Michelle Johnston Holthaus, mentioned that in addition to Intel's own manufacturing facilities, the company is roping in "foundries" (third-party silicon fabrication companies) to meet demand. Samsung and TSMC lead the foundry business, followed by the likes of GlobalFoundries, UMC, etc.
Many Thanks to biffzinker for the tip.

PRC State-Owned Company, Taiwan Company, and Three Individuals Charged With Economic Espionage

A federal grand jury indicted a state-owned enterprise of the People's Republic of China (PRC), a Taiwan company, and three individuals, charging them with crimes related to a conspiracy to steal, convey, and possess stolen trade secrets of an American semiconductor company for the benefit of a company controlled by the PRC government. All of the defendants are charged with a conspiracy to commit economic espionage, among other crimes. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Brian A. Benczkowski, United States Attorney Alex G. Tse of the Northern District of California, and FBI Special Agent in Charge for the San Francisco Field Office John F. Bennett made the announcement.

In addition, the United States filed a civil lawsuit seeking to enjoin the further transfer of the stolen trade secrets and to enjoin certain defendants from exporting to the United States any products manufactured by UMC or Jinhua that were created using the trade secrets at issue. The indictment was filed on September 27, 2018, and unsealed today. The civil lawsuit was filed today.

Micron Provides Statement on Fujian Province Patent Litigation

(Editor's Note: We'll see if this statement from Micron is enough to staunch the bleeding on its shares - which it should, since the company says no recognizable impact will exist on its bottom line. If things are as they seem (and yet, they seldom are), this is a checkmate move from Chinese manufacturing companies - eventually supported by the Chinese government - and an interesting way to lock China's voracious DRAM and NAND market to fully domestic manufacturers.)

Micron Technology, Inc., announced that the Fuzhou Intermediate People's Court, Fujian Province, China today notified two Chinese subsidiaries of Micron that it has granted a preliminary injunction against those entities in patent infringement cases filed by United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC) and Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. (Jinhua). The patent infringement claims of UMC and Jinhua were filed against Micron in retaliation for criminal indictments filed by Taiwan authorities against UMC and three of its employees and a civil lawsuit filed by Micron against UMC and Jinhua in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California for the misappropriation of Micron trade secrets.

Micron Technology Faces Ban in China After Losing IP Spat to UMC

Stocks of Micron Technology tanked on Tuesday as reports emerged of the company being banned in China, the world's largest semiconductor market. A Chinese court ruled in favor of Taiwanese semiconductor foundry UMC in its patent infringement lawsuit against Micron. The Fuzhou Intermediate People's Court issued a preliminary injunction stopping the sale of 26 Micron products, spanning across both its DRAM and NAND flash product lines, UMC said in a statement.

Micron, meanwhile, maintains that it hasn't read the injunction order yet, and that it won't comment until it does. Micron's position is doing precious little in stopping its hemorrhage at the markets, as its stock prices fell 8 percent at the time of this writing. The Micron-UMC spat is fascinating in a broader geopolitical context. Micron accuses UMC of serving as a conduit for funneling away its IP to midwife Chinese DRAM companies such as Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. It is the counter-suit to this by UMC, which was won today. China accounted to more than 50 percent of Micron's revenues in FY 2017, with most of the chips being mopped up by the consumer electronics and PC manufacturing industries.

UMC To Start 14 nm Shipments in Q1 2017

For a while there, the only competitive foundries that we've been hearing about have been TSMC and GlobalFoundries (Intel's foundries are such a well-known fact that they sometimes - and paradoxically - fade into obscurity). However, according to UMC's CEO, the company is poised to become another option in the 14 nm field this year.

This represents a general acceleration of UMC's plans to bring the manufacturing process to market, where it would supposedly only be ready for primetime on Q2 2017. However, following intensive engineering activities, UMC's 14-nanometer transistor performance has delivered speed and leakage results which are comparable with the industry's 14-nanometer standards. Initial 14nm manufacturing capacity should be 2,000 wafers per month, and the company already has numerous customers running test chips.

UMC Enters Volume Production for TSV Process that Enables AMD Radeon R9 Fury X

United Microelectronics Corporation, a leading global semiconductor foundry, today announced that it has entered volume production for the Through-Silicon-Via (TSV) technology used on the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X, the flagship GPU in the recently announced Radeon R 300 Series of graphics cards. The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X GPU utilizes UMC's TSV process technology and die-stacking to fuse HBM DRAM with AMD's GPU on a silicon interposer, enabling the GPU to deliver unmatched memory bandwidth of 4096-bit and quadruple the performance-per-watt over the current GDDR5 industry standard.

"AMD has a successful history of delivering cutting-edge GPU products to market," said S.C. Chien, vice president of Corporate Marketing and co-chair of the TSV committee at UMC. "This volume production milestone is the culmination of UMC's close TSV collaboration with AMD, and we are happy to bring the performance benefits of this technology to help power their new generation of GPU products. We look forward to continuing this fruitful partnership with AMD for years to come."

UMC joins IBM chip alliance for 10 nm process development

IBM (NYSE: IBM) and United Microelectronics Corporation (NYSE: UMC; TWSE: 2303) ("UMC"), a leading global semiconductor foundry, today announced that UMC will join the IBM Technology Development Alliances as a participant in the group's development of 10nm CMOS process technology.

"Established over a decade ago, the IBM alliance allows the partners to leverage our combined expertise and collaborative research and innovative technology development to address the demanding needs for advanced semiconductor applications," said Gary Patton, VP, IBM Semiconductor Research & Development. "UMC is a strong addition to the alliance."

NVIDIA Approaching Other Foundries than TSMC for 28 nm Production

NVIDIA, along with Qualcomm, is reportedly in talks with foundries other than TSMC, for manufacturing of its new 28 nm chips. Despite the fact that TSMC is ramping up its 28 nm capacity at a breakneck pace, NVIDIA is seeing a shortage of production that could affect its competitiveness. An interesting revelation here is that NVIDIA has begun sampling its GPUs on Samsung's 28 nanometer fab process. Samsung uses this process for contract-manufacturing of ARM application processors. Other foundries with proven 28 nm manufacturing capability include UMC.

TSMC Expanding 28 nm Manufacturing Facility

With the advent of highly-complex 28 nm discrete PC graphics processors, and ARM designers lined up with their increasingly powerful SoCs, TSMC is bound to see a pile up of orders for chips built on its newest bulk manufacturing process. In view of this, the "messiah of the fabless" is planning an expansion of its 28 nm manufacturing facility. This expansion is set to occur a little later in 2012. TSMC reportedly is running at full capacity at its 12-inch fabs because of strong demand for 28 nm as well as 40 nm and 65 nm. Due to this, some designers are approaching TSMC's competitors UMC and Samsung for 28 nm bulk manufacturing, according to sources. The expansion will follow a revision of TSMC's capex target for 2012, up from US $6 billion.

SandForce Closes $25 Million Series D Funding

SandForce Inc., the pioneer of SSD (Solid State Drive) Processors that enable standard NAND Flash deployment in enterprise, client and industrial computing applications, today announced that it has closed $25 million in Series D funding, led by Canaan Partners. Existing investors who also participated include DCM, Storm Ventures, Translink Capital, LSI Corporation & UMC Capital.

"We are increasing volume shipments of our Enterprise and Client SSD Processors to leading drive manufacturers around the globe and continue to receive exceptional market acceptance of our DuraClass technology in I/O intensive storage applications," said Michael Raam, president and CEO of SandForce. "This new funding will help us bring our next-generation products to market, expand our customer and partner support infrastructure, and accelerate our core technology development that will extend our market leadership."

AMD to Switch to GlobalFoundries with 28 nm GPUs

With AMD's next generation of graphics processors, the company plans to, at one point, switch its GPU manufacturing from its present Taiwan-based foundry partners such as TSMC and UMC, to GlobalFoundaries, its erstwhile own manufacturing division. From 40 nm, graphics processors are expected to jump to 28 nm as the next manufacturing process standard. GlobalFoundries will be ready with a 28 nm High-K metal gate (HKMG) node for making AMD products which are now bulk-manufactured in Taiwan.

During a quarterly conference call with financial analysts, chief executive officer of AMD, Dirk Meyer said "The first intersection of our AMD GPUs and GlobalFoundries are on the 28nm. We haven't been public with respect to any timing there." GlobalFoundries is said to have two principal kinds of 28 nm nodes, the 28nm-HP (High Performance) node makes complex chips such as GPUs, game console chips, storage controllers, networking and media encoding, while the 28nm-SLP (Super Low Power) is used for less complex devices, particularly intended to be low-power, for portable devices, such as baseband, application processors, and other handheld functions. In 2011, AMD is expected to release its next-generation of GPUs in a series codenamed "Northern Islands".

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Appoints VP of Marketing

GLOBALFOUNDRIES today announced the appointment of Jim Ballingall as vice president of marketing. In this role, Ballingall will be responsible for developing and implementing marketing solutions and strategies to support the growth of GLOBALFOUNDRIES as it aims to reshape the landscape of the foundry industry.

"The core of the GLOBALFOUNDRIES brand comprises the sum of the unique value propositions that we create, promise, and deliver to our customers," said Jim Kupec, senior vice president of sales and marketing at GLOBALFOUNDRIES. "As we strive to deliver on our vision and become the world's first truly global foundry, Jim's proven foundry industry leadership and experience will help us develop and convey our unique value propositions to customers and stakeholders and position the company for optimal success, as we unlock our customers' potential to innovate and win."

NVIDIA GT300 Already Taped Out

NVIDIA's upcoming next-generation graphics processor, codenamed GT300 is on course for launch later this year. Its development seems to have crossed an important milestone, with news emerging that the company has already taped out some of the first engineering samples of the GPU, under the A1 batch. The development of the GPU is significant since it is the first high-end GPU to be designed on the 40 nm silicon process. Both NVIDIA and AMD however, are facing issues with the 40 nm manufacturing node of TSMC, the principal foundry-partner for the two. Due to this reason, the chip might be built by another foundry partner (yet to be known) the two are reaching out to. UMC could be a possibility, as it has recently announced its 40 nm node that is ready for "real, high-performance" designs.

The GT300 comes in three basic forms, which perhaps are differentiated by batch quality processing: G300 (that make it to consumer graphics, GeForce series), GT300 (that make it to high-performance computing products, Tesla series), and G200GL (that make it to professional/enterprise graphics, Quadro series). From what we know so far, the core features 512 shader processors, a revamped data processing model in the form of MIMD, and will feature a 512-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface to churn out around 256 GB/s of memory bandwidth. The GPU is compliant with DirectX 11, which makes its entry with Microsoft Windows 7 later this year, and can be found in release candidate versions of the OS already.

NVIDIA Outsources 40 nm to Foundry Partners in Q2

With rival AMD having a production-grade 40 nm graphics processor, and UMC's recent announcement of being ready with a high-performance 40 nm manufacturing node, the conditions are increasingly favourable for NVIDIA to flag-off large-scale production of 40 nm GPUs. According to Chinese print-media Commercial Times, the company set its foundry outsourcing schedule for within Q2 2009, with TSMC and UMC being the regular foundry-partners.

Within this quarter, NVIDIA will start mass-production of the entry-level GT218, high-end mobile GT215 and mainstream desktop GT214 and GT216 GPUs. Additionally, the company may also expand its output for the 55 nm G200b high-end GPU.

UMC Becomes the First Company Ready for Real, High-Performance 40 nm Manufacturing

UMC, a leading global semiconductor foundry, today announced that it has delivered customer ICs produced on its High Performance (HP) 40 nm process technology. The products were manufactured with excellent cycle time and yields for the large die-size programmable logic chips, which leveraged the foundry's triple-gate oxide, 12 metal layers and copper/low-k technology to enable 65% reduced power consumption and more than twice the density improvement over previous 65nm generation products. The advanced 40 nm ICs have already begun shipping in volume to the customer's end users for product sampling.

S.C. Chien, vice president of advanced technology development at UMC, said, "UMC continues to remain at the forefront of semiconductor foundry technology through the timely delivery of leading-edge processes that meet the demanding requirements of today's advanced applications. The delivery of these 40 nm customer products underscores this technology commitment, we look forward to bringing the performance advantages of our proven 40 nm technology to even more UMC customers."

AMD 32 nm CPU Conquest to Begin in 2010

After spinning off its manufacturing division to The Foundry Co., AMD is left with all the engineering resources it needs to make processors. Contradicting older roadmap slides by the company predicting it would start selling 32 nm processors in 2011, Dirk Meyer, CEO of AMD in an interview with Information Week said that the company is on-track to ship smaller, more powerful processors built on the 32 nm manufacturing process by 2010.

The new manufacturing process would allow the chip maker to step up transistor counts to add more features and computational power. Tomorrow, on March 2, the AMD is expected to close the deal with Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC) of Abu Dhabi to form The Foundry Company (TFC). This would render AMD fabless. The company will then, like other fabless market heavyweights such as NVIDIA and VIA, will focus on designing processors, while TFC, its largest foundry partner will manufacture the processors. Currently AMD is tied up with foundry companies such as TSMC and UMC for manufacturing products of its Graphics Products Group, products such as GPUs and chipset.

AMD will be an year behind larger market rival Intel in selling processors built on the 32 nm technology. Intel plans to roll out 32 nm processors by Q4 2009. AMD's designs will be ready by mid-2010, following which volume production of its 32 nm chips will commence by Q4 2010.

The Foundry Company to Make GPUs, To Accept Designs from Other Manufacturers Soon

At the AMD Analyst Day event, AMD indicated in its presentations that The Foundry Company, a manufacturing company formed from the assets of AMD with the intestments of ATIC under the AssetSmart program, would in the future become an independent foundry company accepting foundry partnerships from companies apart from its one largest customer, AMD. The move would keep the newly formed company profitable and competitive with other Asian foundry companies.

In the same presentation, AMD also indicated that eventually it would assign manufacturing of its ATI Radeon GPUs and chipsets, to The Foundry Company (TFC). Currently GPUs and chipsets are being manufacuted by foundry companies such as TSMC and UMC in Taiwan. This move would send a significant chunk of manufacturing to TFC. Sources tell ATI Forum.de that at FAB38 Dresden, a major manufacturing facility, installations of the 40nm bulk manufacturing node is in full-swing (not to be confused with 45nm SOI, on which K10.5 processors are built). Also there are indications of the facility accepting orders for manufacturing chips on the new node from other fab-less companies, an attempt to bring in profitability right from the start.

NVIDIA Increases Foundry Outsourcing to TSMC and UMC

According to the Taiwanese Economic News site, NVIDIA is planning to increase production in Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) and United Microelectronics (UMC), in order to keep up with the strong demand for its graphics chips. Throughout the last quarter NVIDIA had contracted TSMC to make a record 50,000 wafers of 65nm chips and UMC to make 7,000-9,000 wafers of the same chips. Now industry watchers forecast TSMC will produce up to 60,000 wafers for NVIDIA, while the volume production of UMC will rise to 10,000-12,000 wafers over the next quarter. With the strong demand for NVIDIA cards growing, the company's executives estimate to beat the record revenue of $935.3 million achieved for the same period of last year.
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