The new year is underway, and the excitement has already begun. In this month’s semiconductor news update, we’ll look at vertical transistor technology, Wi-Fi 6E chipsets, and other tech innovations on the immediate horizon. Meanwhile, manufacturers are searching urgently for ways to combat counterfeit ICs and cumbersome Section 301 tariffs. Stay up-to-date on these developments with Sensible Micro.
IBM Vertical Transistors to Keep Moore's Law Alive
The “Vertical-Transport Field-Effect Transistor” (VTFET) from IBM, first announced on December 14th 2021, is set to double the speed of the longstanding industry-standard FinFET designs by stacking the transistors perpendicular to the plane of a chip.
IBM will profit from VTFET technology by licensing it to other firms. This is the second major innovation IBM has brought to semiconductors in the past few months, following the company’s recent introduction of the world’s first 2-nm chips, with 50 billion transistors (and over 330 million per square millimeter).
Gray Market Counterfeit ICs Demand a Solution
Manufacturers are scrambling to mitigate the worst effects of the worldwide chip shortage by turning to the “gray market” of non-authorized suppliers, primarily of obsolete and excess component stocks. This quick-fix strategy has led to a major increase in the distribution of counterfeit integrated circuits (ICs). These hard-to-detect and insidious “fake” chips have made it into products from cell phones to nuclear submarines.
Anti-counterfeiting solutions can range from electronically testing or x-raying incoming batches to decapsulation and visual inspection of the IC die. Manufacturers are turning to specialized test facilities for access to a full battery of advanced detection methods including (but not limited to):
- High-Power Microscopy for surface and leads inspections
- Marking Permanency tests for surface, markings, blacktopping, and mold cavity anomalies
- X-Ray Signature Analysis to assess internal structure, die frame, die size, and wire bonds
- Decapsulation/Delidding to confirm internal die markings, bond integrity and layout
- Heated Solvents Analysis to identify remarking that withstood marking permanency testing
- Solderability Screening to spot soldering or wetting anomalies and identify resurfaced leads
- XRF Analysis to find differences in material/elemental composition vs. authentic parts
- Programming to check whether programming has been installed previously
- 3D Imaging to identify deviations in dimensions, orientation, and thickness vs. known data
Anti-counterfeit testing helps component buyers avoid installing bad batches of chips.
Semiconductor Group Asks for Repeal of Section 301 Tariffs
Tariffs on Chinese-imported goods are starting to take a serious toll on the semiconductor industry. The U.S. has imposed burdensome “Section 301” tariffs on roughly $550 billion of Chinese goods since July of 2018 to fight back against behavior deemed unreasonable and discriminatory to owners of intellectual property.
The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) urged the U.S. Trade Representative to eliminate semiconductor tariffs in December 2021, arguing that the Section 301 tariffs “are contributing to the current global chip shortage leading to higher prices, and worsening damage to U.S. consumers and manufacturers.” Whether their request will be heeded remains to be seen.
Rohde & Schwarz Collab With Broadcom on Wi-Fi 6E Chipsets
The Rohde & Schwarz and Broadcom teams have verified a test platform for the industry’s first 6-GHz Wi-Fi 6E chipsets from Broadcom. It’s been a mad rush since the FCC voted back in April 2021 to open up a plot of spectrum in the 6GHz band — the largest spectrum addition since 1989. Rhode & Schwarz showcased a Wi-Fi 6E test setup at CES 2022 in Las Vegas from January 5 to January 8, 2022, featuring the R&S CMP180 and the BCM4389 Wi-Fi 6E device from Broadcom.
Stay Up-to-Date on Semiconductor News With Sensible Micro
The Sensible team always keeps an ear to the ground for valuable industry insights and electronic component news. Our robust global network often enables us to access critical insights early, even before many OEMs and manufacturers.
Stay informed with Sensible Micro and get the tips you need to keep one step ahead of shifting regulations and new innovations set to roll out in 2022.