Silicon value: An overview of the semiconductor market

The manufacturing of semiconductor-based technologies is arguably the most advanced of human endeavours in terms of engineering. 

Semiconductor materials include silicon, which can either act as a conductor of electricity or as an insulator, stopping the flow of electricity.

This strange duality, along with other features, has made semiconductors the most valuable commodity in electronics, and enabled it to form the basis of today’s technological, increasingly computerised machines and gadgets.  Continue reading Silicon value: An overview of the semiconductor market

Market analysis: Semiconductor stocks

 

According to on Global Times, the Taiwan Semiconductor Association estimated that the output value of the global Semiconductor market in 2017 is expected to grow by 9.8 per cent compared to 2016.

In this market analysis, DailyStockTracker.com takes a closer look at four companies in the semiconductor equipment and materials category – Cree, Oclaro, Synopsys, and United Microelectronics.  Continue reading Market analysis: Semiconductor stocks

Nidec to acquire SV Probe in sign that electronics manufacturing is heating up

Industrial technology company Nidec is to acquire SV Probe, which manufactures what are called “probe cards” and testing equipment for semiconductors. 

The deal would give Nidec subsidiary Nidec-Read 100 per cent of SV Probe’s shares.

Nidec-Read’s main business is the development, manufacturing and sales of inspection equipment for semiconductor package substrates and printed circuit boards, as well as inspection fixture.  Continue reading Nidec to acquire SV Probe in sign that electronics manufacturing is heating up

NSK miniature linear guides bring ‘higher dynamics’ to pick-and-place machines

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NSK says its linear guides bring “higher dynamics” to pick-and-place machines.

As machines for the semiconductor industry operate with cycle times of one second or less, pick-and-place units must offer very high dynamic performance.

A case in point can be seen at a manufacturer of chip-mounting systems, where NSK recommended a combination of its ball screw and miniature linear guide technologies to replace the existing linear motor and significantly increase dynamic capability.  Continue reading NSK miniature linear guides bring ‘higher dynamics’ to pick-and-place machines

Bosch to build gigantic semiconductor production plant in Germany

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German industrial giant Bosch is building a massive semiconductor production plant which would represent the single largest investment in the company’s 130-year history. 

The high-tech facility, to be located in Dresden, would employ around 700 staff working on 300-millimeter semiconductor chips which Bosch says has growing applications in the automotive market, smart cities and on the industrial internet, all strong markets for Bosch.

The construction of the high-tech factory is to be completed by the end of 2019, says Bosch, and production is expected to begin at the end of 2021 after a start-up phase. Overall, the investment volume for the site is estimated to be around $1.1 billion.  Continue reading Bosch to build gigantic semiconductor production plant in Germany

Small potatoes: A closer look at chips

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One of the issues with analysing the chip market, as with some others, is that the products are complex and have a huge array of applications. This often makes it difficult to compare one chip with another. 

Moreover, some people might not know the difference between a micro-processor and a micro-controller, or what a semiconductor is… and where microchips fit into all this.

So here’s an attempt at an explanation. Continue reading Small potatoes: A closer look at chips

Qualcomm could become king of the road if it buys NXP

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Mergers and acquisitions happen quite frequently these days, and there’s a lot of interest surrounding them. 

For example, there are currently strong rumours that US smartphone chip giant Qualcomm is about to buy NXP Semiconductor for $40 billion.

NXP itself last year bought Freescale for $12 billion. The deal gave NXP access to the market for micro-controllers, in which Freescale is one of the leading companies.

And in a separate, similarly large deal, Japanese communications colossus SoftBank recently agreed to buy the British chip designer ARM for $32 billion.  Continue reading Qualcomm could become king of the road if it buys NXP

National Instruments upgrades software for semiconductor testing

national instruments

National Instruments has released its TestStand Semiconductor Module, which provides test system engineers with the software tools to develop, deploy and maintain optimized semiconductor test systems.

With the TestStand Semiconductor Module, NI says engineers can now program lab characterization systems using the same programming paradigm they deploy on the factory floor with the Semiconductor Test System (STS), “reducing the time required to correlate measurements”.

Built on TestStand industry standard test management software, which is used by 10,000+ developers worldwide, the TestStand Semiconductor Module also empowers customers to build their own rack-and-stack systems for semiconductor production test using the capability of PXI and TestStand outside of the conventional “test head” architecture of the STS.  Continue reading National Instruments upgrades software for semiconductor testing

Renesas launches new microcontrollers for automotive applications

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Renesas has launched six new microcontrollers targeted toward expanded adoption in high-current load switch applications such as motor and heater control circuits. 

The new intelligent power devices (IPDs) are particularly designed for automotive motor and heater control applications. The devices provide an “extremely reliable, high-performance solution compared with mechanical relays that switch the current flow on and off in electronic control units (ECUs)”, says Renesas.

An IPD is a power IC device that integrates in a single package control circuits that implement protection functions and self-diagnostic functions, in addition to power MosFet (metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor) switching element(s). The IPDs are compact, lightweight, power efficient, and not subject to the contact wear and tear that affects mechanical relays, enabling highly reliable systems with self-protection functions, says Renesas.

Previously, most ECUs used relays as the switching elements in their drive circuits, with the average automobile using around 100 relays. The transition from mechanical relays to semiconductor switching began in applications like lighting control, and the trend is expanding to other automotive systems, such as motor and heater control, driving demand for highly reliable and high-performance semiconductor switching devices.  Continue reading Renesas launches new microcontrollers for automotive applications