European silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafer producer Soitec is in the process
of accepting the complete tool set needed to produce 300mm wafers at its
Bernin II facility in France. The toolset includes ion-implantation,
bonding, chemical-mechanical planarization (CMP) and metrology tools. Twelve
production lines with a capacity of 1.2mn wafer starts per year are planned
for installation at the new facility. These will be used for the production
of 300mm and 200mm SOI wafers. Production in this new, state-of-the-art
facility is expected to commence before the end of the year, with the first
line due for qualification in November.
KVH Industries has signed an agreement with ABB's High Voltage business to
cooperate in the development of a new fibreoptic current sensor. The
agreement follows a series of joint research projects during which the
companies explored the feasibility of using fibreoptics to measure current
in high-voltage power lines. The new fibreoptic sensors have been designed
for more accurate energy metering and wider bandwidth and improved safety
over conventional technologies.
DuPont has signed a definitive agreement to acquire ChemFirst for $408mn.
ChemFirst supplies electronic chemicals and materials to the semiconductor
industry. The company has 480 employees and primary manufacturing facilities
in Mississippi, Texas, Ohio, California, Scotland and Japan.
The semiconductor fabrication materials businesses include EKC Technologies
and ChemFirst Electronic Materials. ChemFirst's electronic materials
business segments will become a part of DuPont Electronic Technologies in
the DuPont Electronic & Communication Technologies sector.
EV Group (EVG) has completed installation and qualification of its automated
EVG 850 SOI production wafer bonding system at Analog Devices' SOI
(silicon-on-insulator) fab in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Analog Devices is
expanding its SOI wafer production capacity to meet demand for thick film
SOI wafers. Applications of the substrates include MEMS and power devices.
Vishay Intertechnology's Siliconix subsidiary and Fairchild Semiconductor
International have settled a US patent infringement lawsuit brought by
Siliconix against Fairchild.
The suit alleged that certain Fairchild products infringe two Siliconix
patents that relate generally to power trench metal-oxide-semiconductor
field-effect transistor (MOSFET) products. As part of the settlement,
Siliconix granted Fairchild a license to the two patents.
SEMI announced its preliminary book-to-bill ratio of 1.28 for the North
American semiconductor equipment industry in June. Bookings of $1.16bn were
up 59% up on June 2001. Billings were $906mn, down 33%. May's final
book-to-bill is 1.28.
The figures are now compiled by David Powell Inc, an
AMD, Infineon Technologies, and UMC plan to collaborate on the development
of common high-volume 65/45nm logic manufacturing platforms for 300mm
wafers. Initial work for the joint development program will take place at a
UMC facility in Hsinchu, Taiwan. With this initiative, Infineon expands upon
an existing agreement they have with UMC to develop 130/90nm process
technology and will join the process development programme AMD and UMC
announced earlier this year targeted for the 65nm and 45nm nodes.
Texas Instruments has a new silicon-germanium (SiGe) complementary
bipolar-CMOS manufacturing process (BiCom-III) that increases speeds up to
3x over other currently available complementary bipolar processes.
The new SiGe process is claimed as the industry's first to integrate both
NPN- and PNP-type bipolar transistors. This reduces noise by 50% noise for
operational amplifiers and other high-performance mixed signal products. The
process also used silicon-on-insulator (SOI) and deep trench isolation. The
0.4micron emitter NPN and PNP transistors are rated at 30kV and 10kV,
US magnetic memory developer Micromem has been approved for funding by a
non-profit research funding agency to support a proposed research
collaboration with a university.
The funding is conditional upon signing of a collaboration agreement among
Micromem, the agency and a university. Further, Micromem will have to match
the external funding. No shares will be issued.
IBM's 300mm semiconductor facility in New York state (East Fishkill) has
been opened. The $2.5bn investment will house both development and
manufacturing. Work on prototype customer designs has begun and the facility
is on-schedule to begin volume manufacturing later this year. The new
facility covers an area of 12,000m2 and is designed to support the creation
of chips with circuits smaller than 100nm.
MEMSCAP has agreed to buy substantially all of the business and assets of
JDS Uniphase's Cronos MEMS business unit. The French microsystems company
will be JDS Uniphase's exclusive supplier of MEMS-based products.
As part of the agreement, JDS Uniphase has provided MEMSCAP with initial
purchase commitments for products and services.
AMD, Fujitsu and Saifun Semiconductors have agreed to cross-license patents
and technology, settle all pending litigation and collaborate in the
development of future generations of non-volatile memory (NVM) technology.
As part of the collaboration, AMD and Fujitsu will also take an equity stake
Filtronic has closed the 75mm compound semiconductor fab at its US Filtronic
Solid State subsidiary in California. The operation will now run fablessly
using Filtronic's UK facility in Newton Aycliffe to produce devices. The UK
group is hoping the UK fab will break even by May 2003, dependent on the
success of its customer M/A-COM in the wireless handset switch market. The
failure of this opportunity would see Newton Aycliffe lose more than GBP1mn
a month for the rest of the financial year (to May 31, 2003).
Korean epiwafer company EPIPLUS has started high volume GaN-LED production
using a 19x50mm close-coupled showerhead (CCS) MOCVD system from UK
equipment supplier Thomas Swan Scientific Equipment. EPIPLUS was set up in
May 2000 and is a lead company in an epiwafer technology development
programme sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy.
The Korean company moved to new buildings in early 2001, and started
commercial production of epiwafers in the second half of that year. EPIPLUS
now manufactures a product range including 100mm and 150mm InGaP/GaAs and
AlGaAs/GaAs HBT epiwafers and blue and green GaN-based LED epitaxial wafers.
The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics organisation reports world IC sales
at $11.351bn in June 2002 (three-month moving average). The European share
was $2.145bn, down 14.3% on last year. Asia Pacific managed year-on-year
growth of 29.5% to $4.169bn. The Americas market shrank 10.9% to $2.585bn
and Japan was 25.9% down at $2.452bn.
UMC reports Q2 net sales of TWD18.58bn resulting in net income of TWD4.45bn.
These compare with net sales of TWD15.00bn and a net loss of TWD1.85bn in Q2
2001. The capital spending budget is to be cut from $1.6bn to $1.3bn
Actel and Infineon Technologies are to jointly develop Flash memory
field-programmable gate array (FPGA) solutions for production in a
0.13micron process. The work will build on Actel's Flash-based ProASIC FPGA
family and Infineon's process technology. New market segments will be
investigated such as smartcards, automotive, industrial controls and mobile
communications. The deal expands on a 1997 Flash process development and
manufacturing agreement between the companies.
Scientists at IBM and Nion R&D have improved the resolution to the
sub-Anstrom level in electron microscopes by reducing aberration effects.
The resolution performance is about 20 times the wavelength of the 120keV
The team combined seven new sets of magnetic lens designed by computers to
correct for spherical aberrations. The work was based on a VG Microscopes'
HB501 STEM with the addition of a quadrupole-octupole aberration corrector.
The four quadrupoles are separated by three octupoles.
The researchers believe this is the smallest resolution achieved so far for
direct electron imaging, although a posteriori processing of high energy
electron scattering has resulted in higher resolution. High energy can
result in beam damage of the target.
The new microscope assembly was used to image gold atoms on a carbon
The cornerstone for the Communicant Semiconductor Technologies fab
development is to be laid this week (August 14) in Frankfurt (Oder),
Germany. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is to attend. The company plans to be
at the leading edge of the development of mixed-signal foundries with
technology for truly modular carbon-doped silicon germanium and BiCMOS
processing (Bulletins 372, February 12, 2001; 411, December 3, 2001; 423,
March 11, 2002; 427, April 8, 2002; 437, June 17, 2002).
Novellus Systems has agreed to buy all outstanding shares of SpeedFam-IPEC
in a stock-for-stock merger. Novellus will also assume all of
SpeedFam-IPEC's 6.25% Convertible Subordinated Notes due 2004, totaling
$115mn. The transaction is valued at $220mn. Speedfam-IPEC produces chemical
mechanical planarisation (CMP) systems. The acquired company will become a
new product group for Novellus. SpeedFam-IPEC has worked with Novellus on
copper interconnect processing as part of the Damascus Alliance. The
transaction has been approved by the board of directors of both companies
and is expected to formally close in Q4 2002 following SpeedFam-IPEC
shareholder approval. Novellus shareholder approval is not required.
Novellus Systems has won an appeal court decision upholding its position in
a lawsuit filed by Semitool on August 10, 1998, alleging patent
infringement. Semitool claimed that Novellus' SABRE and SABRE xT copper
deposition systems infringed its US patent Nos.5,222,310 and 5,337,708. The
appeal court upheld a 2000 ruling that Novellus Systems had not violated the
Semitool patents (Bulletin 329, April 3, 2000).
Metron Technology and Cabot Microelectronics have modified their
distribution agreement. Cabot Microelectronics will assume direct
distribution of its products in Europe, Singapore and Malaysia effective
from June 1, 2003. Metron will continue to distribute Cabot's products in