By Mark LaPedus
The European Commission this week announced a collection of five major projects to boost Europe’s manufacturing competitiveness in electronics. The “pilot lines” include a previously announced, fully depleted silicon-on-insulator (FDSOI) project. Other projects involve 450mm, GaN, MEMS and power electronics. In fact, Soitec will lead one consortium, dubbed the French AGATE pilot line. The aim of this proposal is to show that gallium-nitride (GaN) technology can be manufactured in a standard process line, with adapted equipment at a cost-competitive level on 150mm wafers, while keeping open the route to 200mm substrates. GaN is an emerging technology for LEDs, RF and other applications.
Minera El Tesoro (MET), part of one of the largest mining groups in Chile, has built the first pilot plant in South America with Soitec’s Solar technology, installing four of its concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) systems.
At the Cowen & Co. technology event, Bob Halliday, CFO of Applied Materials, addressed the state of the semiconductor and equipment industries. He also outlined Applied’s prospects for the year.
The World Semiconductor Council wants to expand the scope of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), a key trade pact that provides for duty-free treatment of certain information technology products, including semiconductors. The list of covered products has not been updated since ITA’s inception in 1996. The WSC cited two such semiconductor products that should be covered by an expanded ITA—multi-component integrated circuits and multi-chip packages (MCP). Inclusion of these devices in an expanded ITA would result in estimated global tariff savings of between $94 million and $188 million annually. In a statement, Ajit Manocha, SIA chairman and CEO of GlobalFoundries, said: “The consensus reached in the 2013 WSC Joint statement represents a significant step toward enacting sound policies that will open markets, increase consumers’ ability to benefit from semiconductor technology advances, maintain market-based competition, and protect the environment.”
At the 50th Design Automation Conference (DAC) in Austin, Texas, GlobalFoundries will unveil a comprehensive set of certified design flows to support its advanced processes. It will also unveil a set of certified design flows to support 2.5D IC product development.
Mentor Graphics has collaborated with GlobalFoundries to deliver 20nm design kits for the Olympus-SoC netlist-to-GDS platform. In addition, Mentor Graphics announced that its Calibre physical verification platform has achieved version 0.1 of design reference manual (DRM) and SPICE model tool certification for TSMC’s finFET process. And, Mentor Graphics announced the application of its Capital software suite to the development of CaetanoBus’ flagship C5 coach.
Andras Poppe of Mentor Graphics and the Budapest University of Technology has been recognized by the JEDEC international standards organization for his contributions to the JESD51-5x series of thermal testing standards for LEDs.
Cadence announced that several of its system-on-chip development tools have achieved version 0.1 of design rule manual (DRM) and SPICE model tool certification for TSMC’s 16nm finFET process. In addition, PMC has adopted Cadence’s physical verification system as signoff technology for its global design centers.
The Silicon Integration Initiative (Si2) has acquired the Compact Model Council (CMC). The CMC develops and standardizes compact models of electronic devices used within commercial circuit simulators across the electronics industry, including virtually all SPICE-class simulation.
PMC-Sierra has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Integrated Device Technology’s enterprise flash controller business and certain PCI Express (PCIe) switch assets for $100 million.
Using IC Insights’ current worldwide GDP forecast of 3.0%, the most likely range for IC market growth in 2013 is still 3-7%.
In February, Semiconductor Intelligence forecasted 7.5% growth in the semiconductor market in 2013 and 12% growth in 2014. Although 1Q 2013 was weaker than expected, the general trends driving moderate growth are still in place. Still, the research firm has lowered its IC forecast for 2013 to 6%. It is still holding the 2014 forecast at 12% based on continued improvement in the global economy.