Industry News - 2017

March 2017

Tessera Holding Corporation announced name change to Xperi Corporation

Tessera Holding Corporation (Nasdaq: TSRA) announced that it changed its name to Xperi Corporation ("Xperi") and its Nasdaq ticker symbol to XPER, effective February 23. The change also included a new corporate logo and brand platform to reflect the company's expanded capabilities, continued technological innovation and refined vision. Xperi and its wholly owned subsidiaries, DTS, FotoNation, Invensas and Tessera, will continue to create and deliver audio and broadcast solutions, computational imaging technology, semiconductor packaging, and intellectual property licensing.

"Changing our name to Xperi is an incredible moment in our history," said Tom Lacey, CEO of Tessera Holding Corporation. "Xperi represents the combination of DTS, FotoNation, Invensas and Tessera - world-class companies dedicated to creating solutions that enable extraordinary experiences for people around the world. Our new logo and brand identity convey the unlimited possibilities of what our team of approximately 700 employees can create to truly impact the human experience. We are constantly inspired by how people use our technologies in their lives, and that drives us to continue generating ideas and innovation. We cannot wait to show the world what's next."

Since 1993, DTS has been dedicated to making the world sound better. Through its audio solutions for mobile devices, home theater systems, cinema, automotive and beyond, DTS provides immersive and engaging audio experiences to listeners everywhere.

FotoNation, founded in 1997, provides computational imaging and computer vision solutions. Its technologies and solutions enhance the digital imaging capabilities in billions of smartphones, digital cameras, drones, activity cameras, tablets, surveillance systems, access control systems and more.

Since its founding in 2011, Invensas has been a provider of advanced semiconductor packaging and interconnect technologies that enable the next-generation of electronics products to be smaller, faster, consume less power and deliver higher levels of functionality.

Founded in 1990, Tessera originally focused on the research and development of semiconductor packaging technology and has been a leader in innovating and licensing technology and intellectual property. Tessera's customers include many of the world's leading semiconductor, smartphone and digital imaging manufacturers.

Smiths Interconnect launches brand transition to simplify customer access to technologies

Smiths Interconnect, a division of Smiths Group plc, recently announced it is unifying its technology brands of EMC Technology, Hypertac, IDI, Lorch, Millitech, RF Labs, Sabritec, TECOM, and TRAK under the single brand identity of “Smiths Interconnect.”

According to the company, the brand transition supports a recent strategic reorganization focused on creating a more agile structure that can better anticipate and respond to customers’ evolving needs. Individually, the technology brands represent state-of-the-art solutions across the connectors, microwave components and microwave subsystems markets. Providing a strong umbrella brand that supports the breadth of these products and technologies will make Smiths Interconnect a more comprehensive solutions provider, improving the customer experience by streamlining access and interactions across multiple applications.

“Over time, interactions among our brands have increased across many of our markets,” said Roland Carter, President of Smiths Interconnect. “Aligning all this activity under the Smiths Interconnect name will make us a more streamlined partner, enhancing our customers’ access to the combined strength of our products, expertise and application knowledge.”

The individual technology brands will continue to be visible in association with the Smiths Interconnect brand during the transition period.

GE Ventures and Samsung Electro-Mechanics (SEMCO) recently announced a multi-year, worldwide patent license agreement

With this partnership, SEMCO will license GE’s microelectronics packaging patent portfolio, covering the fabrication of substrates embedded with electronic circuits.

Developed by GE Global Research and Imbera Electronics Oy (now GE Embedded Electronics Oy) as part of a major GE focus in power electronics research over the last decade, the patent portfolio is of particular value for high-performance communication and mobility products.

“GE is extremely pleased that SEMCO has recognized the significance of GE’s IP in this space,” said Lawrence Davis, VP and MicroElectronics Packaging Program Director at GE Ventures. “As the demand for increased power efficiency and higher performance in mobility products continues to expand, GE is positioned to be a strong partner for embedded electronics technology in the power and consumer electronics space. GE Ventures accelerates innovation and growth for partners by providing access to GE technologies through licensing and joint development partnerships. This advanced microelectronics packaging technology is being licensed to leading global manufacturing partners to provide advanced solutions to businesses worldwide.”

Amkor Technology to acquire NANIUM S.A.

Amkor Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMKR) and NANIUM S.A. have announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for Amkor to acquire NANIUM. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed at the time of the announcement.

According to Amkor, the acquisition of NANIUM will strengthen its position in the fast growing market of wafer-level packaging for smartphones, tablets and other applications. NANIUM has developed a high-yielding, reliable WLFO technology, and has successfully ramped that technology to high-volume production. NANIUM has shipped nearly one billion WLFO packages to date utilizing a state-of-the-art 300mm wafer-level packaging (WLP) production line.

"This strategic acquisition will enhance Amkor's position as one of the leading providers of WLP and WLFO packaging solutions," said Steve Kelley, Amkor's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Building on NANIUM's proven technologies, we can expand the manufacturing scale and broaden the customer base for this technology."

"The Amkor transaction is a great fit for us and provides NANIUM and its employees with a strong platform for future growth," said Armando Tavares, President of NANIUM's Executive Board. "Amkor's technology leadership, substantial resources and global presence coupled with NANIUM's best-in-class WLFO packaging solutions will accelerate global acceptance and growth of this technology worldwide."

NANIUM is based in Porto, Portugal, employs approximately 550 people and had annual sales of approximately $40 million for its fiscal year that ended September 30, 2016. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

InvenSense and GLOBALFOUNDRIES collaborate on ultrasonic fingerprint imaging technology

InvenSense, Inc. (NYSE: INVN) and GLOBALFOUNDRIES have announced their collaboration on an ultrasonic fingerprint imaging technology for InvenSense UltraPrint Ultrasound Fingerprint Touch Sensor Solution. InvenSense and GF are enabling, for the first time, commercial manufacturing of aluminum nitride-based piezoelectric Micromachined Ultrasonic Transducers (pMUT). As a result of the close technological collaboration between InvenSense and GF, InvenSense’s CMOS-MEMS Platform can now be extended to pMUT devices and enable a biometric authentication solution for mobile and IoT products.

Mobile OEMs are looking for highly durable, button-free solutions that require fingerprint sensors to be placed behind the cover glass or under metal on the back of the phone. Capacitive sensors, incapable of sensing through metal, can only sense through roughly 0.3mm of glass, which creates durability concerns. InvenSense’s UltraPrint technology enables the use of thicker glass or metal materials without compromising biometric authentication performance. Moreover, the technology enhances fingerprint imaging, enabling the reader to scan even when the user’s skin contains common contaminants such as oils, lotion, or perspiration. These critical factors combined with GF's aluminum-nitride-based manufacturing technology ensure consistent quality for higher-performance devices and can be extended to a secure identification for smartphones, home automation, payment or health-related interactions with wearables.

“We are pleased to have collaborated closely with GF on the proprietary InvenSense CMOS-MEMS platform (ICMP),” said Mo Maghsoudnia, VP of Technology and Worldwide Manufacturing at InvenSense. “This close technology collaboration has enabled us to advance the manufacturing of ultrasonic imaging technology, resulting in production of our fingerprint authentication solution for a myriad of applications. We look forward to expanding our collaboration into multiple pMUT devices and the delivery of best-in-class products to our customers.”

“InvenSense’s entry into pMUT provides testimony to our differentiated capabilities on aluminum nitride-based piezoelectric MEMS fabrication technology,” said Gregg Bartlett, SVP, CMOS Business Unit of GF. “This is particularly notable as we broaden the relationship to now include InvenSense’s ultrasonic fingerprint and other process technologies.”

Imec and EVG demonstrate for the first time 1.8µm pitch overlay accuracy for wafer bonding

At the 2017 European 3D Summit in Grenoble (France, Jan 23-25), imec and EV Group (EVG) announced an extension to their collaboration, achieving excellent wafer-to-wafer overlay accuracy results in both hybrid bonding and dielectric bonding. Expanding this collaboration, EVG will become a partner in imec’s 3D integration program through a joint development agreement to further improve overlay accuracy in wafer-to-wafer bonding.

Wafer-to-wafer bonding is a promising technique for enabling high-density integration of future ICs through three-dimensional (3D) integration. This is achieved by aligning top and bottom wafers that are then bonded, thereby creating a stacked IC. An important advantage is that wafers/ICs with different technologies can be stacked, e.g., memory and processor ICs.

The companies provided additional background information about their work with the news release. Many of the alignment techniques and bonding methods for 3D integration have evolved from microelectromechanical system (MEMS) fabrication methods. The fundamental difference between MEMS and 3D integration is that the alignment or overlay accuracy has to be improved by 5–10 times. Accurate overlay is needed to align the bonding pads of the stacked wafers and it is essential to achieving a high yield with wafer-to-wafer bonding.

Figure 1: Results of the hybrid (via-middle) waferto-wafer bonding achieved by EVG and imec’s collaboration achieving a 1.8μm pitch.
Imec and EVG released results they achieved with respect to overlay accuracy. First, the hybrid (via-middle) wafer-to-wafer bonding technique was improved by using EVG’s bonding system that resulted in a high-yield and a 1.8µm pitch (see Figure 1), which is significantly better compared to recently published results at recognized conferences such as ECTC and 3DIC reporting 3.6µm pad size.

Second, the dielectric (via-last) wafer-to-wafer bonding technique was tackled by the collaborators. This technique requires extremely good overlay accuracy to align the copper pads from both wafers, which are then contacted by through-silicon vias (TSVs). In this case, 300nm overlay across the wafer was achieved.

“By joining forces, we achieved these excellent results on overlay accuracy,” explained Eric Beyne, Fellow at imec. “We are excited that we can expand our collaboration with EVG with a JDP and the installation of EVG’s GEMINI FB XT wafer bonder in our cleanroom. The GEMINI FB XT has the potential to further reduce the wafer-to-wafer overlay errors and therefore allow for the development of sub-micron wafer-to-wafer interconnects technologies.”

“Further improving the overlay accuracy for wafer-to-wafer bonding into the sub-200nm range requires optimization of the interaction between the wafer bonding tool and processes as well as pre-and post-processing and the wafer material,” noted Markus Wimplinger, Corporate Technology Development & IP Director at EVG. “We are excited to partner with imec in an effort to advance overlay accuracies for wafer-to-wafer bonding to meet the needs of future 3D IC designs that rely on high density interconnects”

Imec’s 3D integration program explores technology options to define innovative solutions for cost-effective realization of 3D interconnect with TSVs. Imec’s 3D integration processes are completely executed on 300mm. Imec also explores 3D design to propose methodologies for critical design issues, enabling effective use of 3D interconnection at the system level.

CORWIL Technology invests in portable clean environment for wafer sort

To satisfy demand for ultra-clean environments for wafer sort, CORWIL Technology (CORWIL) has added a Portable Clean Environment for wafer sort that is good to Class 1000. This is a one-stop solution from wafer sort, die prep, assembly, package test and reliability that provides the ability to understand how different pieces of the backend process affect each other in terms of yield.

Joe Foerstel, VP of Test for CORWIL said, “Customers have found that wafer sort in a very clean environment improves yield, especially when using certain RF probe technologies or probing devices with sensitive surface structures, particularly for our customers in the communications and medical industries.”

“We have seen dramatic improvement of yields at Second Optical when customer’s wafers arrive from a cleaner environment, especially when back grind is one of the steps in the process,” added Jonny Corrao, CORWIL’s Director of Die Prep.

Honeywell technology: keeping smartphones cool

Honeywell (NYSE: HON) has announced the availability of a thermal interface materials (TIM) solution to help smartphone manufacturers and designers effectively manage heat dissipation in their phones. Honeywell pointed out that the worldwide smartphone market is expected to reach more than 1.9 billion units by 2020, according to a study from IDC Research. In addition, data needs are growing at unprecedented rates. To meet this challenge, the smartphone industry is leveraging technology that enables phones to provide optimal processing performance without overheating.

Honeywell’s TIM technology is based on phase change materials (PCMs). The technology transfers thermal energy from phone chips to a heat sink or spreader, where it is dissipated into the surrounding environment. This functionality keeps the chips cool, so the phone can perform reliably even during the most data-intense processes or during heat spikes. According to the company, Honeywell’s solution is available worldwide and is already being used by some of the largest smartphone makers to upgrade the thermal designs of its latest phone models.

“Honeywell’s innovative TIM technology provides customers with the ideal solution to optimize their phones’ performances,” said Olivier Biebuyck, VP and GM of Honeywell Electronic Materials. “As demand for smartphones grows around the world, these breakthrough designs help provide optimal user experience throughout the entire lifecycle of their devices.”

The company’s PCM series of thermal management materials are based on sophisticated phase-change chemistry and advanced filler technology that was developed specifically for high-performing electronic devices. TIM products are designed to optimize thermal impedance across the entire thermal path, providing an end-to-end solution for best-in-class thermal performance. The PCM design can be customized to fit diverse product applications and end uses.

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