At the annual International Electron Devices Meeting in San Francisco, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and the alliance of GlobalFoundries, IBM and Samsung Electronics, are detailing their development of 7-nanometer semiconductor manufacturing processes. TSMC says it will put 10nm chips into volume production during this quarter, with 7nm IC fabrication to follow by the end of next year; GlobalFoundries is skipping the 10nm process node and going directly to risk production of 7nm chips in early 2018.
Menlo Micro, a spinout from General Electric's Global Research Center, has introduced the Digital Micro Switch, a microelectromechanical system device that it says could replace existing electronic switches and electromechanical relays. The MEMS chip is meant for applications in battery management, electric vehicles, home automation, medical instrumentation and wireless base stations.
Sources in the supply chain say this year's shipments of iPads may be 40 million or fewer units, which in turn will lessen demand for chips going into the Apple tablets. Shipments of iPads are expected to regain growth in 2018 when Apple may update the organic light-emitting diode display panels in the product, those sources note.
Twenty-two members of Congress have signed a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, recommending that he oppose the $1.3 billion acquisition of Lattice Semiconductor by Canyon Bridge Capital Partners, an investment firm with ties to China's government. The proposed transaction would "distort the market and undermine the innovation system," they wrote.
Researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology say scaling silicon-based insulated-gate bipolar transistors could yield significant energy savings. The energy efficiency of IGBTs may prove to be better than power semiconductors made with gallium nitride or silicon carbide.
Western Digital is shipping a 14-terabyte hard-disk drive to customers for testing, and it plans to sell the helium-infused drive to data centers next year. Pricing is not yet set for the 14TB drive, which will be available in mid-2017.
Chips designed with 10-nanometer and 7nm features are offering challenges in timing closure. "You need to design and configure changes to meet timing, but at each new node you crank the voltage down, speed everything up, and add more functionality," said Bill Neifert of ARM.
TrendForce forecasts MediaTek's revenue will increase 17.6% this year to $8.9 billion, up from $7.59 billion in 2015. The chip design firm counts Xiaomi, Oppo Mobile Telecommunications and Vivo Electronics among its smartphone IC customers.
GlobalWafers has completed its $683 million acquisition of SunEdison Semiconductor. The purchase puts GlobalWafers in the position of being the third-largest supplier of silicon wafers in the world, with a 17% market share, trailing Shin-Etsu Chemical and Sumco Techxiv.
The Semiconductor Industry Association forecasts worldwide chip sales will reach $346.1 billion in 2017, a 3.3% increase from this year's $335 billion. Chip sales will grow another 2.3% in 2018 to $354 billion, the SIA reports.
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