Enterprise News(May 23)
Apple and Broadcom reach a chip deal.
Apple and chipmaker Broadcom reached a multibillion-dollar deal, according to which, Broadcom will develop 5G radio frequency, including FBAR filters, and wireless connectivity components for Apple. The FBAR chips are part of a radio-frequency system that helps iPhones and other Apple devices connect to mobile data networks.
Chipmaker Broadcom has always been a major supplier of wireless components to Apple, with about one-fifth of its revenue coming from Apple in the past two years. Broadcom shares were up 2.2% after the announcement, hitting a record high.
While reaching cooperation agreement with Broadcom, Apple has been diversifying its supply chains, building more products in India and Vietnam and planning to source chips from a new TSMC plant under construction in Arizona. And Apple has never given up its own research on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips.
Broadcom is Apple’s largest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip supplier. Apple always hopes to reduce its dependence on external chips and shift to using its own Wi-Fi chips. However, judging from the agreement renewal, Apple cannot yet adopt its own chips, and Broadcom still masters key chipmaking processes. From news disclosed by now, Apple’s self-developed chips have yet to see the light of day.
Enterprise News(May 21)
Intel accelerates advancing the glass substrate process.
Intel recently stated at the APJ Packaging Roundtable technical event that it planned to launch glass substrate technology in the next decade to further improve semiconductor performance. This move of Intel is an attempt to convert materials to achieve high-performance semiconductors beyond the limits of current plastic substrates. It also plans to develop a technology to boost chip performance by reducing the contact distance between the chip and the board and to expand the technology into the next generation of products.
The company said the glass substrate can not only improve the strength of the substrate but also further reduce power consumption and improve energy utilization. It developed a co-packaged optical component technology for this purpose, using optical transmission through the glass substrate design to increase the available bandwidth during signal exchanges. This design also allows the chip to support the hot-plug usage model.
The company is also developing the hybrid bonding technology at the same time. By far, solder balls are always used for semiconductor stacking or their connection to the board. Hybrid bonding connects chips using direct interconnects of copper with excellent electrical properties to decrease stacking gaps and enhance signal transmission speed. Intel estimates hybrid bonding will reduce bump gaps to below 10 µm and begin to be used in its manufacturing processes as early as the second half of this year.
As industry requirements for semiconductor circuits become increasingly complex, plastic substrates negatively impact the inherent performance of ultra-fine circuits due to their rough surfaces, thus making the need for new substrates more prominent. In contrast, substrates made of glasses have a smoother and thinner surface, due to which its thickness can be reduced by about half compared to the ABF (Ajinomoto Build-up Film). Getting thinner can improve signal transmission speed and power efficiency. They can enhance high-performance chips’ performance and decrease power consumption to a great extent after installation. The commercialization of glass substrates is therefore receiving industry attention and has become one of the new niche tracks.
Enterprise News(May 22)
Japanese semiconductor maker Rapidus seeks to trial produce 2nm chips by 2025.
Japanese semiconductor maker Rapidus announced at its 2nm plant’s engineering brief held on May 22 that it expected to establish a prototype production line for cutting-edge 2nm semiconductors between March and April 2025. Rapidus’ president said they would finish constructing the first prototype for this 2nm semiconductor trial production line by 2025 and start mass production in the late 20s to catch up with TSMC and other world-leading semiconductor makers.
Rapidus was founded in August 2022 by eight Japanese companies, namely Sony, Toyota, NTT, NEC, Softbank, Denso, Kioxia, and Mitsubishi UFJ, with a total investment of 7.3 billion yen, in addition to the Japanese government’s 70 billion yen.
At the same time, the technology needed by 2nm mass production is much more complex than existing technologies, mainly because it requires an architecture completely different from the previous generations of products. For this reason, Rapidus will invest about 2 trillion yen (US$15 billion) to launch the new technology and 3 trillion yen in large-scale production facilities.
Japan has adopted multiple measures to revive the semiconductor industry since 2021, such as the Strategy for Semiconductors and the Digital Industry launched in June 2021, and encouraging overseas semiconductor makers to set up factories in Japan by providing subsidies. Rapidus’ founding was Japan’s most radical attempt in leading-edge semiconductor advanced processes.
Although Japan has certain advantages in equipment, materials and power devices, and MCUs, with its focus on 40nm and larger nodes, it has slightly lagged behind in manufacturing. After having missed opportunities of the times in PC, communication, smartphones, and new energy vehicles, in the face of future digital competitions, Japan inevitably needs to reshape its industry chain and try to make breakthroughs in advanced processes to win the competition in data centers, autonomous driving, and 6G, the new generation of communication standard.
Industry News(May 23)
The global semiconductor packaging materials market to reach US$29.8 billion by 2027.
SEMI, TECHET, and TechSearch International released the up-to-date Global Semiconductor Packaging Materials Outlook on May 23. The report indicates that, driven by the strong demand for electronic innovation, the global semiconductor packaging materials market was expected to reach US$29.8 billion by 2027, with the CAGR reaching 2.7%.
The adoption of technologies such as high-performance applications, 5G, AI, heterogeneous integration, and System-in-Package (SiP) is increasing the demand for advanced packaging solutions. Developing new materials and processes gives chips higher transistor density and reliability and contributes to market growth.
The rising tendency in packaging materials prices completely reversed the downward trend in over a decade, largely caused by the pressures of device makers and OSAT. “Reducing the cost” became a catchphrase limiting materials suppliers’ investment in production capacity. The price increase driven by such demands pushed the packaging materials revenues to grow over 15% in 2020 and over 20% in 2021. As long as raw material and energy costs remain high, and the suppliers can stay prudent in their capacity expansion plans, current prices are expected to hold.
As new technologies and applications push demands for more advanced and diversified materials, the semiconductor packaging materials industry is experimenting with significant changes. Drives to the rapid growth of the advanced packaging industry mainly benefit from the boosting of various new technologies, including big data, high-performance computing (HPC), AI, edge computing, front access memories, expansion of 5G infrastructures, adoption of 5G smartphones, increased usage of electric vehicles, and enhanced vehicle safety features. All parties in the industry chain should pay sufficient attention to and inject sufficient investment in the technological development of advanced packaging.
Some Chinese Industry News
1.Aion and LynkVertx Technology reach strategic cooperation.
GAC Energy Technology and LynkVertx Technology recently signed a strategic cooperation agreement at GAC Aion to carry out deep cooperation oriented to transportation energy Internet of Things (IoT) and power, grid, load, and energy storage in product technology applications, energy management systems, and demonstration scenarios construction.
The National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration issued the Implementation Opinions on Accelerating Advancing the Construction of Charging Infrastructures and Better Supporting the Popularization of New Energy Vehicles in Rural Areas and Rural Revitalization on May 17 to encourage fundamental technology research such as Vehicle to Grid (V2G) and coordinated control of PV-ESS-EV charging. The strategic cooperation between Aion and LynkVertx Technology is a powerful innovation to actively respond to the Chinese government’s appeal and vigorously promote the popularization of V2G technology.
The strategic cooperation between Aion and LynkVertx Technology will advance the high-quality development of the new energy industry intensely. Aion is the only automaker with scale effect and the closed-loop layout of the energy industry chain in the new energy industry. LynkVertx Technology has over ten years of R&D experience in V2G, microgrid management, and energy IoT solutions. The two will lead the development of the new energy industry through collaboration focusing on cutting-edge advanced vehicle-network interaction technologies.
2.Quanta to invest US$1 billion in Mexico to build a factory.
The governor of the Nuevo León state, Mexico, said on May 23 that Quanta from Taiwan, China, would invest US$1 billion to build a super factory. This move will create about 2.500 local jobs.
As Tesla’s supplier, Quanta’s move to build a factory in Mexico is mainly to increase the production capacity of the electric car maker’s plant in Texas, aiming to satisfy North America’s growing demands for electric cars and servers. To ensure Tesla’s material supply, Quanta will build a super factory to produce in-vehicle computers and electric control unit systems. It will build plants, production lines, and supporting facilities. Quanta also helped Apple and Google develop autonomous driving systems, opening the gate for cooperation with other first-class European and American automakers.
Meantime, multiple large Taiwanese technology companies, such as Compal, Pegatron, and Inventec, plan to expand their production businesses in Mexico this year. These companies are all primary vendors of products related to servers and data centers. They are devoting more resources to Mexico, showing a new trend of supply chain diversification.
3.Huzhou implements the “Taihu Chip” plan.
Huzhou People’s Government Office recently issued the Industry Development Plan of “Taihu Chip” (2023-2030) to kick off the “Taihu Chip” plan. The plan spent 60 billion yuan to gather talents from all walks of life, aiming to build a semiconductor and optoelectronics industry innovation cluster with national influence and strive to become a new growth pole of Zhejiang Province’s semiconductor and optoelectronics industry.
Take the industrial scale as an example. By 2025, the overall scale of the semiconductor and optoelectronics industry will double; the total revenues will exceed 35 billion yuan, and 35 enterprises with revenues over 100 million yuan will be cultivated. By 2030, the total revenues will exceed 100 billion yuan; 100 enterprises with over 100 million yuan will be cultivated; and the construction of the provincial “Ten Thousand Mu Hundred Billion” industry platform will be completed.
Meantime, to accelerate advancing the implementation of the “Taihu Chip” plan and promote the high-quality leapfrog development of Huazhou’s semiconductor and optoelectronics industry, Huzhou People’s Government Office also promulgated the notice on several policies on accelerating advancing the “Taihu Chip” plan. Eight policies were formulated in five areas, namely, funding support, investment subsidies, talent introduction and cultivation, elements guarantee, and investment attraction rewards, to achieve industrial development.