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STATS ChipPAC Ltd has announced that it is expanding its 300mm through silicon via (TSV) offering with the addition of mid-end manufacturing capabilities.
TSV is an important developing technology that utilizes short vertical interconnections through a silicon wafer to achieve greater space efficiencies and higher interconnected densities than wire bonding and flip chip stacking. When combined with microbump bonding and advanced flip chip technology, TSV technology enables a higher level of functional integration and performance in a smaller form factor. STATS ChipPAC was one of the first Outsourced Semiconductor Assembly and Test (OSAT) providers to invest in TSV technology with a 51,000 square foot research and development facility dedicated to the development of next generation wafer level integration with TSV technology.
One of the first implementations of TSV technology is in the form of silicon interposers used to bridge 2D silicon designs into more advanced and efficient 3D configurations. Often referred to as the 2.5D technology, TSV interposers are an immediate and practical approach to die level integration using the capabilities of TSV technology. TSV interposers provide flexibility for the integration of die from different technology nodes and deliver advantages in miniaturization, thermal performance, and fine line/width spacing in a semiconductor package.
"The driving demand behind 3D integration is the need to scale semiconductor devices to smaller and smaller geometries with higher I/O requirements. STATS ChipPAC is enabling advancements in 3D packaging with the development and qualification of key technologies that support TSV solutions," says Dr. Han Byung Joon, executive vice president and chief technology officer at STATS ChipPAC. "We have had the capability to fabricate, assemble, and test TSV interposers for four years and believe the timing is right to invest in 300mm mid-end TSV manufacturing for our customers."
STATS ChipPAC has complete front- to back-end manufacturing capabilities for 200mm wafers and currently handles both chip-to-chip and chip-to-wafer assembly for TSV technology. This includes high-density microbump capabilities in both solder and copper column materials, microbump bonding down to 40µm pitch, thin wafer handling, wafer level underfill, thin wafer dicing, and microbumps for flip chip interconnection. Microbump technology is critical to delivering fine pitch, low profile solutions for high-performance devices.
The latest TSV investment that STATS ChipPAC has made is the addition of a 300mm "mid-end" process flow that occurs between the wafer fabrication and back-end assembly process. Mid-end processes support the advanced manufacturing requirements of 2.5D and 3D TSV as well as wafer level packaging, flip chip, and embedded die technology.
Dr. Han continues, "Flip chip and wafer level packaging are important drivers of mid-end processing in addition to the anticipated growth in 3D solutions utilizing TSV technology, particularly with the integration of memory and logic devices at advanced technology nodes. The initial markets that are expected to embrace 2.5D and 3D TSV technology are mobile applications and high-performance processors for the computing segment. STATS ChipPAC will continue to invest and innovate in TSV technology to offer the next generation of 3D packages to our customers."
Chinese silicon wafer producer Jiangsu Huantai Group, a joint venture partner of MEMC Electronic Materials, aims to go public in 2012, Chairman Wang Lubao told Forbes.
Huantai would use funds from the offering for production expansion, Wang said. He didn’t say where he expects the company to list.
The outlook for the solar industry globally has improved with an increase in oil prices and concern about the safety of nuclear energy in the wake of last month’s disastrous earthquake in Japan. GE said that it plans to invest in a thin-film solar panel factory in the U.S. and hopes to turn solar into a major business.
Huantai expects revenues in 2012 to climb to about 10 billion yuan, or $1.5 billion, Wang said. That would be a big increase from about 3.3 billion yuan in 2010. It expects sales of about 6 billion yuan this year.
Huantai and MEMC jointly invest in Jiangsu Meike Silicon Energy, a wafer supplier in China.
Huantai until last year was a joint venture partner of U.S.-listed Chinese solar panel supplier Suntech Power in wafer supplier Glory Silicon. Suntech said last month that it had purchased the shares in a spinoff of Glory, Rietech Solar, that it didn’t already own.
Huantai, based in Yangzhong in China’s eastern Jiangsu Province, expects to begin manufacturing LED materials later this year.
Seven-year-old Zhenjiang Huantai Silicon Science and Technology, a subsidiary of Jiangsu Huantai Group, is China’s earliest wafer producer, according to the company’s website.
Lattice Semiconductor Corp. expands its presence in India with the official inauguration of Lattice India offering a complete sales and support centre.
Lattice has had a presence in India through distributors for over 15 years, and established a direct sales office in 2006. As a complete sales and support centre, however, Lattice India intends both an expanded presence as well as a new level of commitment to the India market. It aims to provide customers with comprehensive support for Lattice's programmable logic devices, including FPGAs and CPLDs, as well as mixed signal devices for power and platform management.
"The programmable logic market, including FPGAs, is growing rapidly in India, and we are fully committed to providing our customers with world-class sales and support," said Darin G. Billerbeck, Lattice president and CEO. "The establishment of Lattice India demonstrates our commitment, and we will be looking at additional opportunities to expand our presence."
To accommodate its expanded role, Lattice India now occupies new facilities that will allow room for future expansion. Lattice India currently provides the following dedicated personnel: 1) Applications Engineers; 2) Technical Support Engineers; 3) Applications Development Engineers; 4) Direct and indirect sales force; 5) Field Applications Engineers for technical support; and 6) Local distribution team.
"The increase in OEM activity in India, as well as the increase in outsourced hardware and system designs to India, has led to rapid growth in the number of programmable logic designs being developed," said Mohanty. "Lattice directly addresses the requirements of the market with our strong product portfolio of programmable logic devices, including our award winning LatticeECP3 FPGA family and our MachXO2 PLD family. Lattice also provides CPLDs that are ideal for portable consumer products, as well as programmable mixed signal devices for clock and power management. Our focus markets will be telecommunications, industrial, consumer and medical applications
Freescale Semiconductor Inc. announced that it has decided not to re-open a 6-inch fab in Sendai, Japan, which was seriously damaged in the great earthquake on March 11.
Calling its Sendai facility the “semiconductor fab located closest to the epicenter,” Rich Beyer, Freescale’s chairman and CEO, said that the company has “come to a conclusion that it is not feasible to re-open.”
Noting that “we couldn’t even get inside the fab until 10 days ago,” Beyer said that “we discovered a lot of equipment and machinery was severely damaged and moved, ducts and pipes were broken, and gasses and chemicals were leaked.”
While Freescale had already announced plans in 2009 to close the Sendai fab late this year, the recent earthquake appears to have left the U.S. company no choice but to accelerate its closing. The decision will have serious impact on people working for Freescale in Sendai and Freescale’s customers in the global automotive, networking and industrial markets. The Sendai fab, before the earthquake, was in full production, as Freescale was trying to build inventory before the planned shutdown.
Clearly, coping with a massive earthquake and losing their jobs at the same time literally doubles the hardship for Freescale employees. Beyer made it clear that Freescale will extend to all of its 600 employees and 175 contractors working at the Sendai fab compensation, in addition to the severance package the company had previously negotiated in lieu of the planned closing. “We understand that this is a very painful time for all of them. We hope to help them reconstruct their lives,” said Beyer.
Potentially even more problematic for Freescale is to devise an effective plan to take care of customers affected by the lack of qualified parts and components coming out of Freescale’s Sendai fab.
Freescale produced at its Sendai fab 8-bit microcontrollers, analog parts and sensors (i.e. pressure sensors), according to Beyer. Customers for such parts and components are “pretty much across the board” (not only those based in Japan, but North America and Europe) in the automotive market, and some networking and industrial segments, said Beyer. “Very few parts were produced for the consumer market.”
Since immediately after the shutdown of the Sendai fab, Beyer stressed that Freescale has undertaken various actions in the effort to find alternative components for customers.
First, “We had been already building inventories – more than usual – to extend the period of time” for our customers to use specific components, said Beyer.
Second, “We have been going through part by part to find viable alternatives” to those produced and qualified at Sendai, he said. “And there are some of those.”
Third, “We have been already immediately ramping up the production of alternative parts” at Freecale’s 8-inch wafer fabs including the Chandler and Oak Hill fabs, in addition to TSMC’s lines.
Fourth, Freescale is rapidly accelerating the qualification processes for additional parts.
Automotive customers, in particular, are known to be sticklers to the rule, using only parts they have qualified, sourced from their chosen qualified suppliers. Asked if Freescale has thus far lost any of customers because of the Sendai fab shutdown, Beyer made it very clear: “We are not seeing that.”
He added: “They continue to work with Freescale, because we do understand their requirements. If we have to make parts in our Chandler fab, for example, those parts need to be re-qualified, but it’s not like we need to redesign them.”
Asked how long it takes their customers to qualify parts, Beyer said this is usually a 30 days to 60 day process.
Asked if the proximity of Freescale’s Sendai fab to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants was a factor in the decision, Beyer said the radiation level in the area has been safe and is not a problem. “Hopefully, it will never become a problem,” he added.
The Sendai fab is 70 miles away from the Fukushima nuke plant.
A spokesperson for Freescale said the company does have earthquake insurance on the Sendai fab. The spokesperson said he did not have specific information about the amount Freescale might receive as a result and said it would be premature to speculate on those details.
Infineon Technologies has announced it will invest $160 million this year to expand its production capacity, research & development and to upgrade its manufacturing facilities in Malacca, Malaysia. The investment will mainly increase the capacity to produce power semiconductors for energy efficiency applications and will add 350 jobs in Malacca in 2011. Today, Infineon employs nearly 7,000 employees in Malacca.
This investment is another step by Infineon to expand its presence in Asia and to integrate more tightly into local market structures. In the fiscal year 2010, Infineon generated 42 percent of its revenues in the Asia region including Japan, thus being the front-runner in that category among all big German companies listed on the DAX stock exchange index. "In order to be successful in Asia you have to do more than just business. It is about recognizing the culture and becoming a part of society. We aim to create local value added, contribute know-how and employ and groom talents," says Peter Bauer, CEO of Infineon Technologies AG.
In recent years, Asia has developed into a key market for global semiconductor sales and Infineon has continuously expanded its Asian business. In January, Infineon opened a new entity in Beijing, China, called Infineon Integrated Circuits (Beijing) Co., Ltd. In addition to sales and marketing, application R&D and central functions, the new entity houses a technical center for automotive solutions and an IGBT stacks manufacturing facility. IGBTs (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors) are power semiconductors used for instance to drive electric motors in cars or high-speed trains and in renewable energy generation systems.
ERS electronic announced plans to open a new competence centre by the end of March at its headquarters near Munich, Germany. With its competence based on 40 years of experience in designing and manufacturing semiconductor production tools, ERS is a provider of thermal technologies in the semiconductor industry. For more than six years, ERS is committed to eWLB packaging technology through the development of innovative production tools for this promising technology.
Being a fan-out manufacturing technology, eWLB offers a number of decisive advantages over traditional wafer-level packaging technologies. While in conventional WLP the number of chip contacts is limited by the die area, this is not the case in eWLB. In contrast, the technology allows chip manufacturers to implement a virtually unlimited number of external connections and thus provide the extremely complex chips required for tomorrow’s markets.
Against the background of growing substrate sizes throughout the semiconductor industry, the ability of stringent warpage control for the re-constituted wafers is indispensable to achieve high production yields. The procedure of separating the substrate from the temporary carrier in fan-out WLP is a key step in the eWLB manufacturing process. Both aspects are core competencies of ERS, covered by patent-pending technology.
In its new competence center, the company offers customers access to its latest eWLB development tools, flexible and highly innovative to cover the predicted tendency for ever larger re-constituted wafer and panels, enabling them to design and test their own eWLB-related projects and thus securing their market success.
“Thanks to our good contacts, ERS already participated in the development of eWLB technology. This know-how allows us now to take that step and Munich will not be the last Competence Center of its kind,” says Klemens Reitinger, Managing Director of ERS electronic GmbH.
Japan’s Renesas Electronics Corp. will sell its semiconductor wafer fabrication facility in Roseville, Calif. to Germany’s Telefunken Semiconductors International LLC for approximately $53 million.
Telefunken intends to utilize the 200-mm fab in Roseville to manufacture its own analog/mixed-signal, high-voltage products and the products for its strategic foundry partners.
The company also will enter into a supply agreement with Renesas Electronics for manufacturing services at the Roseville factory. Under this agreement, it will focus on Renesas Electronics’ current customers without interruption.
The Roseville fab was once owned by NEC Electronics. Renesas assumed control of the fab when it merged with NEC Electronics.
For the most part, Telefunken was an analog and mixed-signal foundry. Last year, it announced a re-entry into merchant integrated circuits market with a focus on power management and high performance Interface. The newly released products are fabricated at Telefunken’s specialty analog fabrication facility in Heilbronn Germany. Proprietary processes such as silicon-on-insulator, a 700 volt high-voltage process and a high-speed silicon-germanium process enable the new devices to meet the highest performance standards at the lowest power consumption.
As reported, Renesas is moving to cut costs. As part of the strategies outlined through its 100-Day Project announced on July 29, 2010, Renesas Electronics ‘’has been considering and implementing various measures to improve manufacturing efficiency by promoting larger wafers, finer process node, and production concentration.’
Renesas planned to cut nearly 10 percent of its workforce, or about 4,000 jobs, by the end of 2010. It is also moving towards a fab-lite strategy. It will use foundries for devices at 28-nm and below. And it will no longer invest in new fabs.
It also spun out its mobile chip group. More recently, the company has been hit hard by the earthquake in Japan.
After halting production at eight facilities following the powerful March 11 earthquake, Renesas Electronics Corp. has decided to resume "limited production" at two of its five affected wafer fabs.
The Tsugaru wafer fab in Aomori restarted part of its manufacturing on March 20 with "limited production capacity" while the Tsuruoka wafer fab in Yamagata resumed part of its manufacturing on March 22, also with limited production capacity, Renesas said in a status update.
The company did not indicate the nature of the production—whether it is commercial or just test wafers at present, if it is commercial output, or at what percentage of previous manufacturing capacity the fabs are running. Rolling electricity blackouts may prevent the re-commissioning of some fabs affected by the earthquake, but intermittent power should allow engineers to begin testing and recalibrating equipment in preparation for resumption of commercial production.
Renesas also announced that a third back-end facility at Tsuruta-cho, Aomori restarted manufacturing on March 19 but only during times when there are no scheduled blackouts.
Out of the eight Renesas facilities affected by the earthquake, three wafer fabs have yet to resume some sort of operational activity.
The Naka wafer fab in Hitachinaka-shi, Ibaraki appears worst affected. So far it only has electricity for lighting while its clean room for 300mm wafer production is still being assessed for damage, Renesas said. Meanwhile, at its wafer fabs in Gunma and Yamanashi, the company plans to "begin startup procedures to restart its manufacturing after the planned blackout is terminated."
First Solar Inc. broke ground on its four-line photovoltaic module manufacturing plant in the Dong Nam Industrial Park near Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh attended a ceremony at the site to mark the occasion.
The $300 million manufacturing plant is scheduled to begin commercial production in the second half of 2012 and employ around 600 associates. Up to 2,000 people will be involved in the construction. The plant will produce more than 250MW of First Solar's advanced, thin-film solar modules per year on four manufacturing lines, with the flexibility for future expansion. First Solar plans to install some 3MW of its modules on the factory roof.
The factory will use First Solar's continuous manufacturing process, which transforms a sheet of glass into a complete solar module in less than 2.5 hours. The factory is designed to maximize energy efficiency. It will include a recycling plant, which currently recovers up to 90% of a module's semiconductor materials and glass, by weight, for use in new solar modules and glass products.
"Our Dong Nam factory will play a key role in our plan to nearly double First Solar's capacity by 2012," said Bruce Sohn, president of First Solar. All of First Solar's factories worldwide are certified under the ISO14001 system for environmental standards, ISO9001 for quality and OHSAS 18001 for occupational safety and health.
The Dong Nam Industrial Park is a 342 hectare business development zone around 25 kilometers north of Ho Chi Minh City.
First Solar manufactures solar modules with an advanced semiconductor technology and is a provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) system solutions.
There are over 100 production semiconductor fab lines in 53 locations in Japan, say analyst groups IHS iSuppli and Semico. Over a week after the crippling earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan, analysts consider the next business step, with power outages and aftershocks still disrupting production in areas not directly hit by the crisis.
Semiconductor facilities in Japan that had suspended manufacturing activities after the earthquake cannot truly commence full production again until the aftershocks cease, notes IHS iSuppli. Earthquakes ranging from 4 to 7 on the Richter scale will make it impossible to fully restart these fabs until the earthquakes stop happening with such frequency, IHS iSuppli research indicates. Every time a quake tops 5, the equipment automatically shuts down.
The IHS iSuppli table lists the locations engaged in volume production for semiconductor manufacturing operations in Japan. It does not include R&D fabs. There are only a few semiconductor manufacturing fabs that sustained substantial damage (Texas Instruments has moved about 60% of its Japan-based production to other facilities, Seiko Epson is moving wafer production as well), says Semico, noting that power outages are more widely disrupting production than actual damage from the earthquake/tsunami. Consistent and reliable electric power supply is still a major issue in Japan's return to normalcy. Semico believes that high tech and other key industrial facilities, as power hogs, will get high priority.
Japan is facing rolling power outages, with frequent electricity supply interruptions in some areas, as several of the country's nuclear power plants and storage facilities are dangerously damaged. This represents a particular hazard in the production of raw materials for semiconductor manufacturing. Japan's electrical grid system includes ten utility companies. Semico's research indicates that extra-high voltage transmission lines link the entire country from Hokkaido in the north to Kyushu in the south. The companies work together to exchange electricity to provide power in the most efficient manner possible in order to cope with emergency situations. These companies also take part in the cooperative development of electric power technology and the sharing of resources. Semico is promoting the use of sand, boric acid, and concrete to encase and seal off the damaged nuclear power facilities, much like Russia's actions in the Chernobyl disaster.
Japan is the world's leading producer of the main raw material used in semiconductor manufacturing: silicon. The Japanese earthquake has resulted in the suspension of one-quarter of the global production of silicon wafers used to make semiconductors, reports iSuppli. Manufacturing operations have stopped at Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Ltd.'s Shirakawa facility. MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. also stopped manufacturing at its Utsunomiya plant. Together, these two facilities account for 25% of the global supply of silicon wafer used to make semiconductors.
Shin-Etsu's Shirakawa plant is responsible for 20% of global silicon semiconductor wafer supply. The plant is located in Nishigo Village, Fukushima Prefecture Shin-Etsu reported that there has been damage to the plant's production facilities and equipment. To compensate for the lost manufacturing, Shin-Etsu said it would set up production systems at other facilities. However, the company warned it was unclear how long it would take to restore the damaged facilities and equipment.
MEMC said it evacuated employees and suspended operations at its Utsunomiya plant after the earthquake. The Utsunomiya facility accounts for 5% of worldwide semiconductor wafer supply. MEMC said it expects that shipments from this facility will be delayed during the near term.
The country is also a major provider of chemicals for semiconductor production. Some of these chemicals are hazardous, and power interruptions could lead to dangerous events, such as explosions or the release of poisonous material. In these cases, semiconductor materials facilities facing power interruptions are likely to suspend some operations until a stable power supply can be restored, says IHS iSuppli. Shortages of these materials could cause bottlenecks in the semiconductor production cycle worldwide, adds Semico. Semico believes that in times of shortage companies will find ways to increase efficiencies and improve productivity per wafer. In addition, alternative sources of supply will be found.
Also read: Japan earthquake hampering package substrate supplies
In another development for the global electronics supply chain, IHS iSuppli reports that two Japanese companies have stopped production that amounts to 70% of the worldwide supply of the main raw material used to make printed circuit boards (PCBs). The companies, Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company Inc. and Hitachi Kasei Polymer Co. Ltd., said they will resume production within two weeks of the raw material called copper-clad laminate (CCL).
Many electronic original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) worldwide could be engaging in panic buying of semiconductors and electronic components, spurred by fears of supply disruptions from Japan, says IHS iSuppli. Electronic distributors are reporting a surge in orders from OEM customers, trying to ensure they have sufficient inventory on hand to ride out any interruption in supply.
While the semiconductor supply disruptions are bad, they could have been worse; the recent buildup in global semiconductor inventory may serve to mitigate the impact of reduced supply from Japan. IHS iSuppli in February warned global semiconductor inventory levels had risen to alarmingly high levels, surging to a two–and-a-half year high in the fourth quarter of 2010. Although not completely compensating for supply disruptions from Japan, these excessive inventories may provide some cushion for global semiconductor supply.
While Japan is a major producer of electronic systems, it is a much smaller consumer of such goods, accounting for only about 5.2% of global PC consumption and 5% of worldwide cell phone consumption in 2010, IHS iSuppli research indicates.
Locations of Japan Semiconductor Manufacturing (not including R&D)
Source: IHS iSuppli
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