Samsung Electronics signaled that it is focused on volume production of chips with 10-nanometer features, while working on prototypes of 7nm ICs. The company reported operating profit of $7.19 billion for the second quarter, an increase of slightly more than 18% from a year earlier, as revenue rose just under 5% on strong sales of the Galaxy S7 smartphone.
IC Insights forecasts China will grow its share of domestic chip consumption from about 13% last year to 21% by 2020. The country is investing billions of dollars in its domestic semiconductor industry under the 13th Five Year Plan, funding existing chipmakers such as HuaHong Grace Semiconductor and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., while also supporting new chip companies such as Fujian Jin Hua and Sino King Technology, the market research firm notes.
United Microelectronics Corp. posted a net profit of $8.05 million for the second quarter ended June 30, more than 10 times that of the first quarter, as demand surged for production of 28-nanometer chips going into mobile phones.
Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix are devoting more financial resources to chips for autonomous vehicles as growth slows for PCs and other traditional markets. SK Hynix estimates that more than 10% of its DRAM sales go into automotive electronics, while Samsung bought a 1.92% equity stake in BYD, a Chinese manufacturer of electric vehicles.
New demands in testing chips are drawing attention to the concepts of built-in self-test and design-for-test technology. "Chips are operating in increasingly demanding scenarios using lower voltage, higher temperatures, and doing more work more often," said Anne Gattiker of IBM.
Researchers in the US, Europe and Singapore report finding a phonon bandgap in spider silk, a discovery that could have implications for semiconductor materials. "Being able to make heat flow this way and not that way, or make it so it can't flow at all, means you're turning a material into a thermal insulator that wasn't one before," said Edwin Thomas, a dean at Rice University's engineering school.
Researchers at Wayne State University report being able to deposit tantalum metal with sub-nanometer control at a low temperature without using plasma. The Wayne State team is also set to disclose a new process for depositing cobalt metal at a conference in Ireland.
Analog Devices will buy Linear Technology for about $14.8 billion in cash and stock, creating a combined company that could better rival Texas Instruments, the industry's leading supplier of analog chips. The transaction is set to close in the first half of next year.
Tsinghua Unigroup has taken control of Wuhan Xinxin Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp., with the two chipmakers merging their memory-chip production facilities under a deal reportedly brokered by China's National Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund. The merged company is called Changjiang Storage Co. and is led by Zhao Weiguo, Tsinghua's chairman.
ARM Holdings reported pretax profit of $171 million on revenue of $387.6 million for the second quarter ended June 30, up 9% from a year earlier. Net income rose 17% for ARM, which agreed last week to be acquired by SoftBank Group for about $32 billion.
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