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Posts Tagged ‘Semicon West’

Test Protocols for the IoT

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016


By Ed Korczynski, Sr. Technical Editor

The Internet-of-Things (IoT) will require components that can sense the world, process and store data, and communicate autonomously within a secured environment. Consequently, IoT devices must incorporate sensors, wireless communication at Radio Frequencies (RF), logic, and embedded memory. Integrated circuit (IC) chips for IoT applications will have to be created at low cost in High Volume Manufacturing (HVM) lines, for which there are unique challenges with design and test. Presto Engineering’s founder and president, Michel Villemain, spoke with the Show Daily about how his company’s test services can accelerate the time-to-market and reduce risk in creating new IoT chip products.

“We started 10 years ago, and were differentiated on RF,” explained Villemain. “We now have a good view on what test costs are in production for different chip functionalities. We focus on specific segments of the industry that are not the traditional ‘drivers’ such as SoCs and large digital chips.” Since most IoT devices are expected to use Over The Air (OTA, a.k.a. “wireless”) links, Presto’s expertise in RF test helps create a low-cost solution for customers.

“We see some general trends in this area,” said Villemain. “The first one in IoT is there is a lot of activity in determining proper protocols for communications, as the industry moves from using short-range private area networks to low-power wide-area-networks with range beyond 300 feet. The second trend which is not technical, is that more and more non-semiconductor companies such as ‘system houses’ will be designing chips to reduce costs and increase security.

“The need for security has been reported as one of the main issues in peoples’ minds preventing deployment of the IoT. When security has to be hardware related and implemented in the chip, the only easy way to enable it is with test,” confided Villemain. “Remember that security is not binary. There is a return-on-investment decision based on how easy would it be to break something and how much would it cost to prevent that breakage. There is somewhat of a consensus that hardware-based solutions provide more security for data traveling over a link, so what we are trying to do is lower the cost of adding security at the hardware level.”

For the test of a very large and complex device, all of the digital instructions are generated by the design tools. However, for a primarily analog device the digital is not the core of the design and not the core expertise of the design team. The Figure shows the workflow used by Presto to methodically manage the establishment of rigorous engineering and production flows for IoT ICs.

test protocols

“Provisioning” is defined as the use of embedded Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) such as Flash within a chip to be able to customize the functionality. If you need to test Flash cells and bake, then program the Flash and bake again before final test it calls for up to three probe insertions, so the type of NVM chosen can alter the text protocol needed.

At end end of last month, Presto announced a multi-year supply agreement with NAGRA—a Kudelski Group company in secure digital TV access and management systems—to provide supply chain management and production services for several of NAGRA’s key products in the Pay TV market. “We are delighted that NAGRA has placed trust in Presto to be its production partner for volume products,” said Michel Villemain, CEO, Presto Engineering. “Leveraging team and expertise acquired from INSIDE Secure in 2015, this is a natural complement to our strategy of deploying an independent subcontract back-end manufacturing and supply chain service for the secure card industry and IoT markets.”

Interview with Kevin McLaughlin, SACHEM

Monday, August 24th, 2015
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Interview with Paul Alers, Busch

Monday, August 24th, 2015
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Interview with Paul Rawlings, Edwards

Monday, August 24th, 2015
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Tanaka Precious Metals Is Big in Bonding Wires, Other Products

Friday, July 17th, 2015

By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

There’s gold in them thar wires. Also, aluminum, copper, palladium, and various alloys.

Tanaka Precious Metals, a company dating back to 1885, is a leading supplier of gold bonding wire and other types of bonding wire for semiconductor packaging. It also specializes in electroplating equipment, unveiling a new system for research and development applications at SEMICON West 2015.

Tanaka’s industrial products business accounts for 70 percent of its annual revenue, which was $70.78 million in fiscal 2014, producing net income of $1.13 million. The remainder of its revenue is evenly divided between gold and platinum bullion for asset use, and jewelry.

Noriaka Hara, the deputy general manager of the marketing department in the R&D/Marketing Division of Tanaka Precious Metals, notes that the company trades in eight metals from the periodic table of elements: ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, silver, osmium, iridium, platinum, and gold.

The industrial business may be best known for its bonding wire used in the semiconductor, hard-disk drive, and electronics industries, yet it also addresses automotive manufacturing, mobile devices and PCs, fuel cells, light-emitting diodes, and medical diagnostic kits.

According to SEMI, gold’s share of bonding wire shipments has steadily declined in this decade, from 77 percent in 2011 to a forecast of 40 percent this year. Palladium-clad copper, copper and silver have steadily gained in market share over the last five years.

Tanaka Precious Metals claims to have 43 percent of the U.S. gold bonding wire market. Its leading competitors include Heraeus, California Fine Wire, and MK Electron.

At SEMICON West, Electroplating Engineers of Japan (a company within Tanaka Precious Metals) showed its RAD-Plater, a compact laboratory system for working with semiconductor wafers of 2 inches to 8 inches. Tanaka Precious Metals is targeting annual sales of the RAD-Plater of 500 million yen (about $4 million) by 2017.

Solid State Watch: July 10-16, 2015

Friday, July 17th, 2015
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CoorsTek Increases its Business with Covalent Acquisition, Organic Growth

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

By Jeff Dorsch, Contributing Editor

CoorsTek made one of the biggest acquisitions of its century-long history late last year in purchasing Covalent Materials, formerly known as Toshiba Ceramics.

Jonathan Coors, CEO of the company’s Semiconductor and Medical Group, said Tuesday the Covalent acquisition was “really strategic for us. It enhanced the company as a whole.”

CoorsTek’s Japan market share in engineered ceramics  was “relatively small prior to Covalent,” Coors noted. Covalent broadened CoorsTek’s product portfolio in carbons, quartz, and silicon products, according to Coors.

CoorsTek plans to pursue both organic growth in its business and acquisition opportunities as they present themselves, the CoorsTek executive said.

Asked whether privately held CoorsTek may pursue a public offering, Coors said, “We enjoy being private.” That status offers some “regulatory ease,” he noted.

As a private company, CoorsTek is able to engage in a “long-term thought process, while maintaining focus on quarterly performance,” Coors added.

CoorsTek also provides orthopedic implants, such as hip and knee replacements. Medical products present “a demand on quality that is as high (as semiconductor products), if not higher,” Coors noted. There is a “similar supply chain” in the two product lines, he stated.

Coors and other CoorsTek executives are meeting this week with customers to learn “where the market is heading,” Coors said. Such information gleaned at SEMICON West 2015 can point to “the next generation of growth,” he said.

Micron Technology, in the news this week on reports of a rumored takeover bid by Tsinghua Unigroup, is a customer of CoorsTek, according to Coors.

From SEMICON West 2013: Luc Van den hove of imec

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
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Key Trends at Semicon West 2013

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

By Pete Singer

At Semicon West last week (and at The ConFab a few weeks ago) some key trends were clearly evident in the semiconductor industry.

It’s apparent that the world’s appetite for electronics has never been greater. That has increasingly taken the form of mobile electronics, including smartphones, tablets and tablets and the new “phablets.” People want to watch movies and live sports on their phones. They want their mobile devices to be “situationally aware” and even capable of monitoring their health through sensors. That drives higher bandwidth (6G is on the drawing board), faster data rates and a demand for reduced power consumption to conserve battery life. At the same time, “big data” and the internet of things (IoT) are here, which drives the demand for server networks and high performance semiconductors, as well as integrated sensors and inventive gadgets such as flexible displays and human biosensor networks.

It’s also pushing the semiconductor manufacturing industry in new directions. Chip makers typically face tradeoffs between power, performance, area and cost/complexity (PPAC). For mobile devices, the push is to low power, high performance, small area and low cost.

For me, one of the main themes of Semicon West was the demand for mobile devices and how they might impact what has become standard thinking in the semiconductor industry in terms of scaling, performance, power and cost.

At Semicon West 2013, Karen Savala, president of SEMI Americas, kicked things off, noting that it was the 43rd year of Semicon West (32nd consecutive one for me personally). “While much has changed over the years, the one that has been constant is the power of our industry to continually drive innovation, to overcome technical challenges and economic challenges, and develop new processes, new materials and technologies that continue to move Moore’s Law forward,” Savala said. “2013 is no different. The industry finds itself at a critical juncture where multiple technology developments, including 450mm, FinFETs, 3D ICs, advanced materials and processes, and EUV just to name a few, promise to move Moore’s Law ahead. But as we have done before, we will address these challenges, bring new technologies to market, and continue to amaze the world with the power of our collective innovation.”

Karen then introducde the keynote, Ajit Monacha, CEO of Global Foundries, who expanded on his Foundry 2.0 concept, and talked about how the requirements of mobile devices were, in fact, changing the entire semiconductor industry. He noted that the mobile business is forecast to be double the size of the PC market in 2016. The mobile business drives many new requirements, said Manocha, including power, performance and features, higher data rates, high resolution multicore processors and thinner form factors.

This incredible growth is driving new dynamics, said Manocha, and pushing the industry to the new technology node each year, which is presenting the industry with what Manocha deems the Big Five Challenges. Manocha believes these challenges are: cost, device architectures, lithography and EUV, packaging and the 450mm wafer transition. I don’t recall when cost wasn’t an issue, but an audience poll revealed that most people believe economic challenges will be the main factor limiting industry growth, not technical challenges, so cost moves to the top of the list.

After his talk, Ajit was presented with the “SEMI Outstanding EHS Achievement Award — Inspired by Akira Inoue” by Denny McGuirk, president and CEO of SEMI. During Semicon West, SEMI also honored 14 industry leaders for their outstanding accomplishments in developing standards for the microelectronics and related industries

Part of “the buzz” at the show was the rosy prediction issued by SEMI about growth in capital equipment for next year. SEMI forecasts semiconductor equipment sales will reach $43.98 billion in 2014, a 21 percent increase over estimated 2013 equipment spending, according to the mid-year edition of the SEMI Capital Equipment Forecast, released during the show.

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