Chipmakers that are producing ICs with 7-nanometer features are confronting costs much higher than previous process nodes, a development that caused GlobalFoundries and United Microelectronics Corp. to stick with 14nm FinFET processes, at least for now, this analysis notes. Also complicating the industry transition is the greater emphasis on safety-critical applications, such as automotive and industrial use cases, and the advent of advanced packaging technologies.
STMicroelectronics CEO Jean-Marc Chery is aware that his company faces "very intense" competition in supplying semiconductors for advanced automotive electronics, and in addressing the China market. The chipmaker collaborates with Mobileye for chips going into advanced driver-assistance systems, he notes, adding, "Mobileye designs complex [vision, safety] software, but Mobileye needs a strong semiconductor company like ST."
While digital circuit design is mostly automated, with extensive reuse of IC building blocks, the same cannot be said for analog design, this analysis notes. "Analog automation will never be at the same level of digital, and that is OK," says Magdy Abadir of Helic.
Yangtze Memory Technology is sampling its 64-layer 3D NAND flash memory devices, scheduling volume production of the chips for the third quarter of next year, industry sources say. The Chinese chipmaker will move on to 128-layer 3D NAND flash with volume production in 2020, skipping over 96-layer flash memory chips, those sources note.
GlobalFoundries is fabricating custom microcontrollers designed by indie Semiconductor with its 55-nanometer Low Power Extended platform, qualified for automotive electronics. The chips are based on Arm's Cortex-M4 MCU cores and are in volume production at the foundry's 300-millimeter wafer fabrication line in Singapore.
The Audi A8 next year will feature six cameras, five radar devices, one lidar chip and a dozen ultrasonic sensors, providing the vehicle with Level 3 autonomy. The complexity of automated driving presents a number of challenges in design and testing advanced automotive electronic systems, this analysis notes.
Intel brought out its XMM 8160 5G modem chipset, which will ship during the latter half of next year, fueling speculation that Apple's first 5G iPhone will use the Intel device. The XMM 8160 will support stand-alone and non-stand-alone specifications for the 5G New Radio standard, while also providing legacy support for 4G, 3G and 2G cellular communications.
Samsung Electronics is forecast to reach $83.26 billion in semiconductor sales this year, a 26% increase from 2017, while Intel is expected to total $70.15 billion, a 14% gain over last year, IC Insights says. Nine of the top 15 chip vendors, measured by annual sales, will post double-digit growth in 2018, the market research firm predicts.
Spin Memory, a supplier of magnetoresistive random-access memory devices formerly known as Spin Transfer Technologies, raised $52 million in Series B funding led by Arm and Applied Ventures, the venture capital unit of Applied Materials. Founded in 2007, Spin Memory also said that Arm licensed its Endurance Engine architecture to provide embedded MRAM technology to its customers.
National University of Singapore researchers report there is a way to determine whether high-grade graphene is counterfeit, as some suppliers are palming off poor-quality carbon material. "It is alarming to uncover that producers are labeling black powders as graphene and selling them for top dollar, while in reality, they contain mostly cheap graphite," said Antonio Castro Neto, a professor at NUS.