Posts Tagged ‘ Samsung ’

Apple reportedly to hand processor orders to TSMC

Apple is reportedly looking to outsource the production of its A4 processor as well as the next-generation ARM Cortex-A9-based A5 processor to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), according to industry sources. The Apple A4 processor is currently exclusively produced by Samsung Electronics, and the previous S5PC100 used in the iPhone 3GS was also developed and manufactured by the Korean company.

TSMC declined to comment on the report.

With Samsung now competing directly with Apple with its own smartphones and tablet PC, Apple is reportedly concerned about leakage of its processor technology to a major rival in the end-use market.

In fact, Apple already began handling some A4 orders to TSMC in 2010 when Samsung’s capacity was unable to fulfill strong demand of Apple devices, the sources said, adding that the move at the time was perhaps to test TSMC’s capability.

According to Digitimes Research, the iPad 2 will support an enhanced version of the A4 and the A5 will power the iPhone 5. TSMC will initially produce the improved A4, and could likely become the exclusive manufacturer of the A5.

via Apple reportedly to hand processor orders to TSMC.


Toshibas logic unit goes fab lite

Toshibas logic unit goes fab lite.

Toshiba Corp.’s logic IC unit is going fab lite. SAN JOSE, Calif. – Toshiba Corp.’s logic IC unit is going fab lite.

The company’s so-called Logic LSI Division will expand its outsourcing of cutting-edge products, including 40-nm chips, to multiple foundries from fiscal year 2011, according to Toshiba. This has been in the works for some time.

As part of the strategy for transforming its system LSI business and ”securing an asset light business model,” Toshiba has signed a memorandum of understanding with Sony Corp., expressing the intent to dissolve Nagasaki Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. (NSM) and to transfer 300-mm wafer fabrication lines
there from Toshiba to Sony. The move was expected.

Toshiba will continue to keep and maintain its NAND flash fabs. There appears to be no change on that front.

However, Toshiba is implementing a series of measures to transform its System LSI  business, with the goal of boosting profitability by allocating resources to focus product areas. Towards this, the company will restructure its current System LSI Division on Jan. 1, 2011.

In other words, it will go fab lite or asset lite on the logic front. Other Japanese chip makers-including Fujitsu, Renesas, and, to some degree, Elpida-have moved in a similar chip outsourcing direction for good reason: It is simply too expensive to have and maintain a leading-edge fab. And they are embracing foundries after years’ of avoiding them.

Toshiba’s non-memory unit will will be reorganized into two parts: the Logic LSI Division, responsible for cutting-edge SoC (system-on-chip) fabricated on 300-mm wafer fabrication lines; and the Analog and Imaging IC Division, which supplies key components for a wide range of products.

The Analog and Imaging IC Division will concentrate on analog ICs and imaging ICs, particularly CMOS image sensors, and use existing production lines at Oita Operations, including 300mm wafer lines, and Iwate Toshiba Electronics Co. Ltd. The main focus will be general-purpose products, allowing the division to streamline its production lines.

As part of the plans, the Logic LSI Division will promote a flexible manufacturing strategy responsive to demand volatility by combining use of its own production line with outsourcing.

Meanwhile, as reported this week, Sony plans to re-acquire a semiconductor fab in Nagasaki, Japan, that it sold to Toshiba in 2008. Sony will buy the fab for about $597.2 million in order to double its capacity to produce CMOS sensors. The acquisition will double Sony’s image sensor output to about 40,000 wafers per month, according to the report.

Sony transferred its Fab 2 in Nagasaki to Toshiba in March 2008 as part of a complex $835 million deal between the two companies that included the establishment of a joint venture.

NSM, which was established in March 2008 and is located in the Nagasaki Technology Center of Sony Semiconductor Kyushu Corp. (SCK), has been manufacturing the “Cell Broadband Engine™” processor, the graphics engine “RSX” and other high-performance semiconductors and leading-edge SoCs.

Toshiba and Sony aim to execute definitive agreements as soon as possible before the end of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011. Thereafter, Toshiba and Sony aim to complete the transfer early in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012, subject to any necessary government approvals.

Samsung lengthens lead as DRAM market surges in Q2

Samsung lengthens lead as DRAM market surges in Q2.

Samsung expanded its lead in the second quarter as overall DRAM revenue surged 14.4 percent compared to the first quarter, according to iSuppli.

SAN FRANCISCO — Top-ranked DRAM vendor Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. expanded its lead in the second quarter as overall DRAM revenue surged 14.4 percent compared to the first quarter, reaching $10.8 billion, according to market research firm iSuppli.

Second quarter DRAM growth was driven by a nearly 5 percent increase in bit shipments and 9 percent growth in average selling prices (ASPs), according to iSuppli (El Segundo, Calif.).

Second quarter DRAM was the highest the industry has seen since 1995 and bit shipments, at 3.56 billion 1Gbit-equivalent units, reached the highest level ever, iSuppli said. The $3.03 ASP for all DRAM parts was the highest it has been since the third quarter of 2008, according to the firm.

The expansion across multiple fronts is setting the stage for 2010 to possibly generate the highest annual growth in the history of the DRAM industry, iSuppli said.

Samsung (Seoul, South Korea) increased its DRAM market share to 35.4 percent in the second quarter from 32.6 percent in the first quarter, iSuppli said. Samsung’s DRAM revenue increased by 24.3 percent sequentially to reach $3.8 billion, the highest growth rate among the top five suppliers, iSuppli said.

ISuppli (El Segundo, Calif.) credited aggressive investment in advanced manufacturing technology for Samsung’s growth.

“The company’s aggressive push into 40-nm semiconductor lithography for DRAM manufacturing boosted the volume of its bit production dramatically,” said said Howard, senior analyst for DRAM technology at iSuppli, in a statement. Howard said Samsung’s broad DRAM portfolio enabled the company to achieve a better-than-average overall ASP, $3.13 per part.

Samsung in the second quarter produced 1.2 billion 1Gbit-density-equivalent DRAM units, up 13 percent from 1.1 billion in the first quarter, iSuppli said.

Japan’s Elpida Memory Inc. posted a 17.7 percent increase in DRAM revenue, reaching $1.9 billion in the second quarter, iSuppli said. The firm achieved the second strongest growth among the top five DRAM suppliers due to its higher-than-average shipment growth of 8 percent as well as an improved product mix, iSuppli said.

Micron Technology Inc.’s DRAM revenue grew to $1.43 billion in the second quarter, up 4.1 percent from the first quarter, the lowest rate among the top five suppliers, according to iSuppli. Micron’s market share slipped slightly to 13.3 percent, though the firm enjoyed the highest ASPs in the industry by a sizable margin, according to iSuppli.

Howard said Micron’s comparatively low growth rate was likely due to manufacturing challenges at its Inotera joint venture with Nanya Technology Corp.

“Inotera has had the daunting task over the past few quarters of not only transitioning to the 50-nm process node but also of migrating from Qimonda’s trench technology to Micron’s stack technology,” Howard said. “Once it is past this challenge—which appears to be the case—Inotera should be able to achieve outstanding bit growth for the duration of 2010.”

ISuppli is offering for sale through its website Howard’s latest report on the second quarter DRAM market.

Is Samsung on path to succeed Intel as top semiconductor firm?

Is Samsung on path to succeed Intel as top semiconductor firm?.

The latest semiconductor company rankings from IC insights for the first-half of 2010 show that with the strong performance from memory manufacturers and in particular segment leader Samsung, the gap between number one ranked, Intel and number 2 ranked Samsung has shrunk rapidly.

IC Insights noted that in 2009, Intel’s semiconductor sales were 52% larger than Samsung’s. However, in 2Q10, Intel’s sales margin over Samsung was reduced by more than half, to only 21%!

With continued strong demand for memory IC’s and tight capacity ASP’s have remained at very profitable levels and could be several quarters or more before either demand softens or capacity increases that could see a meaningful impact on ASP’s.

Granted there have been some price declines, NAND flash has dipped about 10% in the second quarter but that is less than expected and before the peak sales quarter. Manufacturing cost reductions are also higher than these declines.

Intel on the other hand may have posted record quarterly results recently, but Q-on-Q revenue growth was only 4% and compared to Samsung’s 14% growth shows a rapid erosion of Intel’s once dominant position.

Therefore it has to be asked, could Samsung actually become the worlds largest semiconductor firm by revenue? Is this only a matter of when not if?

Analysts’ take: Samsung incites “foundry wars” with 32nm HKMG volley – Solid State Technology

Analysts’ take: Samsung incites “foundry wars” with 32nm HKMG volley – Solid State Technology.

by James Montgomery, news editor

June 14, 2010 – Samsung’s announcement that it has completed testing of its 32nm high-k/metal gate architecture, ramping to volume possibly by year’s end — and following quickly with a 28nm version — has the industry buzzing about a possible reshaping of leading-edge semiconductor foundry manufacturing.

Ana Hunter, VP foundry at Samsung Semiconductors, filled in some of the details for SST. The Samsung 32nm process is a gate-first HKMG structure based on the IBM common platform. An SoC application processor “designed for maximum testability” — the same one used by Samsung for its 45nm low-power process, for an apples-to-apples comparison — improves dynamic power reduction by 30% and leakage power by 55% (thanks to things like power gating, multi-threshold voltages, multi-channel lengths and adaptive body biasing techniques). It incorporates an ARM 1176 core, with physical core library, cells, memory compilers, etc. designed by ARM. Also included is a Synopsys IP macro, plus other Samsung-designed IP basically used to qualify the ecosystem process; Samsung also is working with EDA partners (e.g. Synopsys, Cadence, Mentor) to make sure everything works with design kits and tools that its customers already use. Everything at 32nm HKMG can be migrated to 28nm, Hunter said; design rules are shrinkable with recharacterization and timing.

Gate-first HKMG is easier to implement as a transition from a traditional poly/SION structure, Hunter explained. The construction of the gate and transistor remain the same, though the materials are different (i.e., a high-k gate oxide instead of oxynitride); a metal gate is inserted, and then poly on top of that — and the rest of the flow is “basically the same as previous generation structures,” she said. Compared with gate-last HKMG, gate-first also is “much simpler” to implement from a process migration standpoint in terms of IP implementation, and fewer restrictive design rules (gate-last requires CMP around the gate structure). Gate-first enables good logic density shrinking — “we can maintain 50% shrink from 45nm to 32nm because there’s not as many restrictive design rules,” Hunter said. This makes the process particularly good for mobile applications, as it’s cost-effective and “very good on gate leakage — >100× improvement from 45nm to 32nm.”

After early process development w/ the alliance, Samsung installed the technology in its S line in Korea (on which the company also does LSI work), completed qualification and reliability testing (wafer-level, package-level, 1000 hour stress testing) with materials manufactured on the S line, to improve yield and manufacturability, noted Hunter. Tape-out will be in the next few months. with primarily prototyping and customer sampling in 2H10, and production in early 2011 (or possibly pulled into the very end of 2010). “The process is frozen,” Hunter said; what remains is “getting yield up, getting more tools qualified, bringing up the manufacturability side of things.” She also confirmed that the 28nm HKMG version “is still on schedule to be production-ready in 1H11.” (That’s about in line with what Samsung said late in 2009, and Hunter reiterated in April in a podcast with SST‘s Debra Vogler, that 32nm/28nm HKMG was in “preparation” for volume production with tapeouts later in the year and moving “very quickly to 28nm.”)

Ana Hunter, VP foundry, Samsung Semiconductors

Why do both 32nm and 28nm; Samsung’s foundry differentiators; CPA pros/cons

Pros/cons of its HKMG process being based on the IBM Common Platform Alliance: “We develop the process jointly, provide customers the ability to multisource in different factories with competitive business models…Of course we compete for business, but we think the foundry market is a big market, growing all the time.” With another company based on the same technology, and options to do other things (e.g. additional modules, customize processes) — “having that baseline being able to source at both suppliers, working together to ensure GDS compatibility, is a major competitive advantage. There’s plenty of business out there for us both.”

What’s the strategy to compete with TSMC: “Obviously we have not been in the foundry business as long as TSMC has, and we’re nowhere near as big. Our strategy is to be very competitive in advanced technology nodes. To that end, we are very focused on achieving leadership in advanced nodes — not just development but taking it to high-volume manufacturing, because we have the financial capability to do so.”

“Getting into the business to be a second source is not our intention.”

Why strongly pursue both 32nm and 28nm HKMG: The strategy is to be “all-in at 32nm and smooth the way for 28nm,” Hunter explained. “We thought it was important to meet the needs of customers who want 32nm now, an advantage in time-to-market, then follow close with 28nm.” Planting the HKMG flag first at 32nm “makes us a leader…we think that’s important to have competitive position there, to invest in these technologies, to bring to production in high-volume fabs,” she said. And getting HKMG under its belt early and fast, and ramped to volume, is particularly important so that customers are “comfortable with manufacturability and cost savings,” especially for low-power target end-applications like mobile devices, she noted. “Having 32nm in production will help us a lot with the learning curve, making 28nm a much smoother transition,” Hunter said.

Differentiators for Samsung’s foundry business: If a customer needs help with a design, Samsung’s Hunter sees this as a differentiator: “We do that work in silicon and real products, and feed that learning back into design flows that we can provide our foundry customers.” Samsung also has ASIC services for customers who want to have backend design work done. “The line between ‘ASIC backend’ and foundry is becoming fairly gray and fuzzy; customers are more and more seeking help on the design side [which is] getting very complex,” Hunter said. “DFM built into design is something we’re experts in.”

Supporting foundry with capex. Note that Samsung’s recent capex blitz for 2010 included about $1.8B for its system LSI operations, within which the foundry business is a subset. (Hunter offered no definition as to how that’s split up — Gartner’s Dean Freeman suggested the foundry portion could be up to $1B.) Hunter did say that the new investments are “very beneficial for our foundry business,” being in advanced technology nodes and 300mm lines “where our foundry business is concentrated.” Also, Hunter noted that the $1.8B pie is only for manufacturing lines — and suggested there’s another 8T won (almost US $7B) in R&D capex budget that could be tapped as well.

Analysts’ take: Finally, a foundry horse-race!

Samsung isn’t the biggest foundry, and the question of who’s “first” with HKMG is still up for grabs — but certainly its announcement of production-ready 32nm HKMG and a 28nm version soon to follow has complicated the equation for leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing options.

TSMC has been talking about HKMG but has set its bar at what traditionally have been viewed as “half-nodes,” e.g. 40nm and 28nm, notes Joanne Itow with Semico Research. TSMC’s 40nm process offered “a slightly different formula for power and performance” — but there were some openly known yield issues that caused headaches and poor publicity, she added. Gartner’s Freeman suggested no foundry has “completely ditched” 32nm HKMG in favor of 28nm — TSMC is running an abridged version for those who want it, and GF has a 32nm offering as well, but “they don’t talk a lot about it as they are both moving to the half-node where the foundry money is.”

So which foundry will be first with 32nm/28nm HKMG, and when? Samsung says it will have 32nm HKMG ready by late 2010 or early 2011 — earlier this year it identified Xilinx as the first customer for 28nm HKMG, and Hunter told SST that “there are others” both existing and new customers (but she wouldn’t name names). Qualcomm is another leading-edge customer for Samsung, and so is Apple (Samsungfabbed a chip for the iPad); “You also might see Infineon with a device or two,” Freeman suggested. Meanwhile, GlobalFoundries will have a 32nm HKMG version ready in 4Q10, which is a MPU for AMD using an SOI process — though it’s unclear if/when a 32nm HKMG foundry process will be available. In January TSMC said Qualcomm would tape out a 28nm process in mid-2010, but wasn’t specific whether that would be HKMG or SION. Almost a year ago it said it would start ramping 28nm HKMG process (first a HP version, then LP) in 3Q/4Q10. TSMC and GF roadmaps are very similar, Freeman said, so rollouts could be separated by only a month or two.

“Due to the way roadmaps are announced it will be difficult to tell who will really be first until someone announces a customer is shipping in some sort of volume,” Freeman said.

The greater message may be that the foundry sector is finally becoming a horse race. Though TSMC will likely ramp its HKMG option first, its lead on others has notably shrunk, says Freeman. “What we have at 32nm/28nm is the real beginning of what I have been calling the foundry wars” — GlobalFoundries and the Common Platform Alliance trying to unseat TSMC, and TSMC firing back. “The differentiation will be who can provide the design service I need, Meet my capacity requirements, and hit my technology roadmap,” Freeman said.

Judging just based on research, “I believe the foundries are neck and neck — and that includes Samsung,” said Itow. For actual deliverables, TSMC would still lead the pack but with GF and Samsung right behind. “I’d compare this to a horse race that requires a photo finish to determine the winner,” she said. “And actually, there probably aren’t any losers in this race — the customers are provided more variety with lots of proven technology.”

Samsung To Quadruple Foundry Capacity By 2011. – 24/05/2010 – Electronics Weekly

Samsung To Quadruple Foundry Capacity By 2011. – 24/05/2010 – Electronics Weekly.

According to Digitimes, Samsung has a plan to aggressively expand its foundry capacity from its current 27,000 eight inch equivalent wafers a month to 40,000 by the end of the year, to 125,000 by the end of next year and to 200,000 by the end of 2012.

This, of course, is a long way behind market leader TSMC’s 10m eight inch wafer equivalent capacity a year. Nor does Samsung appear to have a strategy to build 100,000 wafer a month GigaFabs to acquire the same economies of scale as TSMC.

Recently, Ana Hunter, Samsung’s foundry vice president, told EW: “It’s a very important business for us – a strategic growth engine – we entered it after several years of study about what could provide significant growth for Samsung.”

Asked why Samsung sees foundry as a growth driver at a time when TSMC is finding growth so elusive in the foundry business that it is diversifying into photovoltaic and LED, Hunter replied:

“Samsung is relatively small as a foundry and we see opportunities for growth. We think the market wants choices at advanced technology nodes. There are not many who can provide 32nm, 28nm and 22nm – we see a market for that.”

Samsung’s foundry strategy is to go for the high-priced, high-end, advanced segment of the industry.

“We focus on advanced technology nodes – 45nm and prototyping on 32nm,” said Hunter, “we have customers taping out on 32nm in Q3 on our high k, low power process for mobile applications. Risk production on 32nm will start in a few months.” Samsung has foundry customers taping out on 32nm, said Hunter.

Samsung is looking for more foundry customers. “We’ve started with a handful of companies we want to work with including Qualcomm and Xilinx,” says Hunter, “and we’re looking for additional customers who want advanced technology nodes.” Another customer is Texas Instruments.

With Glofo (Globalfoundries) also building capacity, the current shortage of foundry capacity may not extend beyond the end of next year.

TSMC versus SAMSUNG « Daniel Nenni

TSMC versus SAMSUNG « Daniel Nenni.

According to the EETimes – “The leading-edge foundry market is up for grabs, as several vendors have stumbled or been victims of the shakeout “. According to people who actually work with the foundries, like myself, the leading edge foundry market will continue to be dominated by TSMC and GlobalFoundries is the “dark horse”Samsung is now and will always be an IDM, with the foundry business being a diversion at best.

The EETimes also claims that TSMC “stumbled and had yield issues at the 40-nm node.”Again not true. TSMC has more than 80% of the 40nm market with 60+ products in production. TSMC forecasts 40nm accounting for 20% of overall revenues at the end of 2010, compared to 9% in the fourth quarter of 2009. Other foundries would be lucky to stumble into numbers like that!

TSMC Fab 12 is currently capable of producing 80,000 12-inch equivalent wafers on 40nm every quarter and will double that by the end of 2010. TSMC’s other 300-mm GigaFab, Fab 14, can also be used to meet future 40nm demand.

The widely reported TSMC 40nm yield problems were focused on GPUs. GPU products are bleeding edge technologies that drive process development, including half nodes. There are (5) GPU players with market share: Intel,  Nvidia, AMD/ATI, S3, and SiS. Intel is an IDM, the rest manufacture at TSMC. Why TSMC you ask? Because GPUs are the single most difficult product to yield and TSMC is the only foundry that can accommodate the insanely competitive GPU market.

According to Ana Hunter, Samsung Semiconductor Vice President of Foundry Services, after 4+ years of trying “Samsung’s share of the foundry business is not as big as we want, but it takes time to put the pieces in place and ramp designs.” Prior to Samsung, Hunter spent 9+ years at Chartered Semiconductor, which was bought by GlobalFoundries last year for pennies on the invested dollar. Hunter stated that “The foundry business is part of our core strategy” and highlighted 6 reasons why Samsung believes it will succeed:

  1. Capacity – Samsung plans to double its production of chips for outside customers every year until it rivals market leader TSMC. ( Wow, good luck with that!)
  2. Resources – Samsung is one of the few companies that has the resources to compete at the high-end of the foundry market. (Intel, IBM, TSMC, GFI….)
  3. Leading Edge Technology – Samsung is ramping 45-nm technology at a time when TSMC and others are struggling in the arena. (Oh no she di’int!)
  4. Leading Edge Technology part II – Samsung will be one of the first foundries to roll out a high-k/metal-gate solution. The technology will be offered at the 32- and 28-nm nodes, which will be rolled out this year. (TSMC and GFI will go straight to 28nm HKT this year)
  5. Leading Edge Technology part III – Unlike rival TSMC, Samsung is using a gate-first, high-k technology, TSMC is going with gate-last. We think that gate-first is best suited for today’s needs. (I defer to TSMC on this one, they have forgotten more about the foundry business than most will ever know.)
  6. Ecosystem – Samsung has put the EDA pieces in place for the design-for-manufacturing puzzle. (A puzzle analogy, really?)

Now let me highlight 6 reasons why I believe Samsung will not succeed:

  1. Business Model – The Foundry business is services centric, the IDM business is not. This is a serious paradigm shift for Samsung.
  2. Customer Diversity – Supporting a handful of customers/products is a far cry from supporting the 100’s of customers and 1,000′s of products TSMC does.
  3. Ecosystem – An open ecosystem is required which includes supporting commercial EDA,Semiconductor IP, and Design Services companies of all shapes and sizes.
  4. Conflict of Interest – Pure-play foundries will not compete with customers, Not-pure-play foundries (Samsung) will. Would you share sensitive design, yield, and cost data with your competitor?
  5. China – The Chinese market represents the single largest growth opportunity for the foundry business. TSMC has a fab in Shanghai and 10% control of SMIC (#4), UMC (#2) has control of China’s He Jian (#11), and Samsung does not even speak Mandarin.
  6. Competition – The foundry business is ultra competitive, very sticky, and product dumping will not get you from #9 to #1.

Just my opinion of course, feel free to share yours.