CEVA Announces CEO Transition Plan

Above: Amir Panush (left) and Gideon Wertheizer

CEVA announced that CEO Gideon Wertheizer has chosen to retire at the end of 2022. The board of directors has unanimously appointed Amir Panush as CEO effective January 1, 2023. Wertheizer will continue to serve as an active member of board of directors and will be employed in an advisory role, to ensure a smooth leadership transition.

Wertheizer had joined CEVA since the company’s inception 20 years ago and served as its CEO for the last 17 years. Amir Panush was selected following an extensive search. He joins CEVA from InvenSense, a TDK group company, where he served as CEO and General Manager of TDK Corporation’s MEMS Sensors Business Group and where he led the company through revenue growth of over 100% since 2020. Previously he had held various leadership positions at TDK, following TDK’s acquisition of InvenSense in 2017.

Prior to InvenSense, Panush held several leadership roles at Qualcomm and led strategic marketing and partnerships at Atheros Communications (acquired by Qualcomm). Panush said: “CEVA is uniquely positioned to leverage its deep portfolio of wireless connectivity and smart sensing IPs at a time when the market opportunity for these technologies has never been greater.”

$15.7 million write-off

CEVA license wireless connectivity and smart sensing technologies such as Digital Signal Processors, AI engines, wireless platforms, cryptography cores and complementary software. Its total revenue for the third quarter of 2022 was $33.7 million, a 3% increase compared to $32.8 million for the third quarter of 2021.

GAAP net loss for the third quarter of 2022 was $22.3 million, as compared to a $0.2 million reported for the same period in 2021.  This is primarily attributable to a $15.7 million write-off of deferred tax assets, , (b) a $5.0 impairment charge with respect to  an investment in Immervision and $3.5 million of which was recorded in operating expenses.

Memory Market “Is currently in a free-fall”

IC Insights reduced its worldwide IC market growth forecast for 2022 from 11% to 7%. The downgraded expectation is almost entirely due to the collapse of the memory market in the second half of 2022.  In a recent report, the company writes: “It was as though someone flipped a switch to the off position for the memory market beginning in June.”

In early September, Kyung Kye-hyun, Samsung’s co-CEO and head of its semiconductor unit said, “The second half of this year looks bad, and as of now, next year doesn’t really seem to show a clear momentum for much improvement.”

Many memory companies have attributed the swift downturn to a massive inventory adjustment currently underway by their customers, and expect this inventory adjustment period to extend into 2023. For example, when Micron’s fiscal 3Q ended in May, the company gave an early warning of the coming developments in the memory market: It presented 4Q (ending in August) sales guidance of -17%, and later revised this figure to at least a 21% drop in sales.

Western Digital, a major NAND flash memory supplier, commented in its 2Q conference call, that the inventory adjustment currently underway is “definitely very, very sharp in the quarter we are in (3Q22).”  Western Digital’s outlook is for a company-wide sales decline of 18% this quarter.  With hard disk drives (HDDs) making up about half of the company’s sales and expected to show only a modest decline in 3Q, IC Insights believes that its NAND flash business is likely to register a drop of at least 20% this quarter.

Taiwan-based Nanya is a relatively minor player in the global DRAM market, but its monthly sales data provides some insight into how swiftly the DRAM market can shift gears from boom to bust.  The company’s August 2022 DRAM sales were 39% of what they were in August 2021 – and down 53% from March 2022 sales – just five months ago!

With the memory market currently in a free-fall, IC Insights expects foundry giant TSMC to surpass Samsung and take over the top spot in the semiconductor company sales ranking in 3Q22: Intel is expected to move to the third position (beneath Samsung) in the ranking, with 3Q22 sales that are 26% less than TSMC’s.

Intel Names Shlomit Weiss GM of Design Engineering

Intel announced that Shlomit Weiss, senior vice president and co-general manager (GM) of the Design Engineering Group (DEG), will replace senior vice president Sunil Shenoy, who will retire at the end of the year. Weiss will lead the company’s design, development, validation and manufacturing support of intellectual properties (IPs) and system-on-chips (SoCs), reporting directly to Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger and joining the company’s executive leadership team.

Weiss has spent 28 years at Intel in engineering and leadership roles, including as leader of cross-site teams responsible for IP and discrete data center products, and general manager of data center group silicon development. She played a major role in the development of some of Intel’s most successful processors, including Sandy Bridge (2006) and Sky Lake (2015). In 2017 she joined Mellanox, now part of Nvidia, as Senior VP for Silicon Engineering.

Last year Shlomit had returned to Intel as co-GM of DEG with Shenoy, specifically leading client product design engineering and the Intel architecture core portfolio used across client, data center and other segments. “The design engineering organization requires a leader with deep technical expertise and passion for engineering excellence, and Shlomit has that in spades,” Gelsinger said.

Nova to Unveil a New Strategy Aimed to Reach $1B Sales

Nova Ltd. is planning to introduce a growth initiative planned to achieve $1 billion annual sales within a few years. According to Eitan Oppenhaim, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nova, the plan will be introduced during during upcoming Virtual Analyst Day on September 21. “With the company revenues exceeding $500 million in the last four quarters, we mark the realization of our Nova 500 strategic plan. As we aspire to continue our strong momentum in the market, we will announce a new strategic plan, charting a course towards the $1 billion company in annual revenues.”

Nova provides material, optical and chemical metrology solutions for advanced process control in semiconductor manufacturing. The company announced record quarterly revenue of $141.6 million in Q2 2022. Up 45% year over year, and a total of $510 million in revenues during the last 4 consecutive quarters.

Oppenhaim said during the Earnings Conference Call last week that the new growth plan is based on the company’s own backlog levels, and general industry trends: “If we can see the process control growth this year versus process tools, we can see the process control is growing in a higher pace because of the complex transition in the technology nodes. The logic intensity grows at around 80% to 100% from node to node and memory is around 50%. So definitely when customers are moving to new node, we see a growth in intensity.”

US China Trade War Effect

“Regarding the U.S. deliveries and the CHIPS Act programs, I think that we started to see the development lines for those fabs already this year. And we expect that next year we’ll probably see more of those deliveries happening in both Arizona and Austin and maybe later on in the East as well. And definitely, we see also the other CHIPS Act programs that were established in other places like Europe, mainly for the automotive in Germany with some of the new joint venture that’s starting to invest in chip manufacturing, also in Japan, in Korea, Taiwan and definitely in China.

“Regarding the political issue – Nova is an Israeli company. So therefore, we are – continue to ship regularly to China. The only effect that we have is by the XPS tools (X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy) that has been shipped from the U.S. Over there, we are working to get the export license for new products. We got the licenses for services. And if we want to talk about impact, it’s just limited to SMIC in Shanghai, which, in any case, is not large volume of the business for the XPS.”

Nova is Aiming the Emerging Market of GAA Transistors

Nova from Rehovot, Israel, announced a series of updates to its metrology solutions for semiconductor fabrication, that prepares them for the production of the newly gate-all-around (GAA) technology. “To address GAA needs, process control solutions must be more accurate and applicable for complex 3D structures and new materials, applied to more layers and utilized to more physical and chemical inline parameters.”

Gate-all-around, or GAA transistors, are a modified transistor structure where the gate contacts the channel from all sides and enables continued scaling. Unlike finFETs, where higher current requires multiple side-by-side fins, the current-carrying capacity of GAA transistors is increased by stacking several nanosheets vertically, while the gate is wrapped around these channels. GAA transistors are generally considered as successors to FinFETs, because they can be scaled to the specific performance required, and allows the creation on 3nm transistors.

The updates were added to all its mainstream systems: spectral interferometry system Nova PRISM, the integrated metrology platform Nova i570, providing high-volume profiles of the materials composition through Nova METRION system, the Raman spectroscopy system Nova ELIPSON and the in-die X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy system Nova VERAFLEX IV. Above all Nova announced that all these systems are are unified by the new machine learning software suite, Nova FIT 2.0.

As part of its GAA strategy, Nova recently added chemical metrology capability by acquiring ancosys GmbH, a privately held company headquartered in Germany. The transaction is valued at approximately $90 million, which is paid in cash, and includes a performance-based earnout of approximately $10 million. “Nova’s portfolio is built to meet the challenges of next-generation device fabrication,” said Eitan Oppenhaim, President and CEO.

Tower and Juniper Announced SiPho with III-V Lasers

Tower Semiconductor and Juniper Networks announced the first silicon photonics (SiPho) foundry-ready process with integrated III-V lasers, amplifiers modulators and detectors. Th process addresses optical connectivity in datacenters and telecom networks, and new emerging applications such as artificial intelligence and LiDAR sensors.  The new platform co-integrates III-V lasers, semiconductor optical amplifiers (SOA), electro-absorption modulators (EAM) and photodetectors with silicon photonics devices, on a single chip.

“Our mutual development work with Tower has been extraordinarily successful in qualifying this innovative silicon photonics technology in a high-volume manufacturing facility,” said Rami Rahim, CEO of Juniper Networks. The new process will be available to customers via Tower’s foundry services. Process design kits (PDK) are expected to be available by year end and the first open multi-project wafer (MPW) run are expected to be offered early next year.

Tower’s Multi-Project Wafer (MPW) Shuttle Program enables customers to tape-out their designs for rapid prototyping and helps reduce costs by sharing the expense of masks and wafers with other MPW shuttle program participants. This can all be done using Tower Semiconductor’s standard manufacturing process technologies. First samples of full 400Gb/s and 800Gb/s PICs reference designs with integrated laser are expected to be available in Q2 of 2022.

Nova to acquire ancosys GmbH for $100 million

Nova has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire ancosys GmbH in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $100 million, including a performance-based earnout of $10 million. The acquisition is expected to close within the first quarter of 2022. ancosys provides chemical analysis and metrology solutions for semiconductor manufacturing. Based in Rehovot, Isreal, Nova provides X-ray and optical metrology solutions for semiconductor’s advanced process control. Among its costumers: TSMC, GlobalFoundries, Micron, Samsung, Hynix and Huali.

“Acquiring ancosys will support our long-term strategy to broaden our portfolio of key technologies for a wider range of process control applications in different semiconductor markets,” said Eitan Oppenhaim (photo above), President and CEO of Nova. Based in Pliezhausen, Germany, ancosys provides modular systems to measure physical, chemical, and electrochemical properties of materials, based on its open architecture.

According to Oppenhaim, “The next-generation devices require a better approach to control different materials’ properties, along with the ambitious architectural design”. Lately, Nova reported record quarterly revenue of $112.7 million, up 62% compared with Q3 2020. “We now forecast the company revenue for the year to surpass $412 million in revenues. This forecast indicates growth of more than 50% year-over-year.”