Semiconductor manufacturing technology needs "a breakthrough innovation" as Moore's Law sputters to its inevitable end, Infineon Technologies CEO Reinhard Ploss said Thursday at imec's ITF2016 conference in Brussels. "The semiconductor industry has evolved from providing integrated circuits to integrating systems," he said, adding, "It is part of the drive towards progressive integration."
Advanced Semiconductor Engineering and Siliconware Precision Industries agreed to merge their operations through a new holding company, creating what will be the world's largest provider of chip assembly and testing services. ASE will pay $3.6 billion to acquire the 67.71% of SPIL's shares that it does not own.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. will complete customer qualifications for chips with 7-nanometer dimensions in the first quarter of 2017, followed a year later by volume production of 7nm ICs, according to Mark Liu, president and co-CEO of the foundry. TSMC said it has 20 customers involved in "intensive design engagement" for 7nm chips.
Researchers in China and the UK report the accidental discovery of how an ionic additive can boost the charge-carrier mobility in conjugated polymer thin films. This advance could potentially affect the development of organic field-effect transistors, organic light-emitting diodes and organic photovoltaics for Internet of Things devices, wearable electronics and other applications.
Quantum dots could replace organic light-emitting diodes in displays, and may prove useful in memory chips and solar batteries, according to Samsung Electronics. "I believe that the quantum dot is the company's new growth engine," Samsung's Chang Hyuk said Thursday at a conference in South Korea.
STMicroelectronics brought out a variety of development boards for its STM32F7 line of microcontrollers. The chipmaker also offers the STM32CubeF7 embedded software package and STM32CubeMX initialization tool.
Microcontrollers are gaining in complexity and processing power, yet are still unable to run the Linux and Windows operating systems, industry executives note. "There is more and more complexity in MCUs. We saw that beginning with the introduction of 32-bit microcontrollers. Then people began asking what else could you do with them," said Bill Neifert of ARM.
Qualcomm's $280 million joint venture with the government of Guizhou province to develop server chips for the Chinese market is a sign of the company's long-term commitment to China, Qualcomm President Derek Aberle said. "The server chip business is very investment-intensive. In the next five years, we have to invest a lot of money before we see our return," he said in an interview.
GlobalFoundries wants to seize industry leadership in fabricating semiconductors with 7-nanometer features, given its deep bench of process technologists, according to Gary Patton, the foundry's chief technology officer. "The IBM acquisition gave us people experienced in leading-edge development," he said. "The people who developed 45nm, 32nm, 22nm and 14nm are the same people who are working on 7nm."
Microelectromechanical system devices present a number of challenges, particularly in design and manufacturing, and average selling prices for MEMS are falling. "If you look at gyroscopes and accelerometers, price erosion has been 3% to 5% per quarter," said Mike Rosa of Applied Materials.
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