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Monday, May 21, 2018

Fair Trade -The Good War That Wasn’t

In a vocal response to President Trump’s trade diplomacy media outlets have been rife with fears of trade war with China and other global markets. In spite of the doom and gloom forecast by media mavens, the market’s tech sector rallied this morning rising 300 points to put the DOW at 25,000 [1]. The trade war predicted by major media outlets has been put on hold as cooler heads prevail among both Chinese and US negotiators. Agreements have been reached on US agricultural products (and other sectors). President Trump was correct in observing the gross imbalance of trade with China conceding the fault was US based. Prior US administrations have failed to effectively represent US trade interests in the past. The tough Chinese negotiating position was anticipated but was surprisingly tempered when President Trump acknowledged the difficult situation facing Chinese based telecom ZTE.  ZTE has been in the news for violating trade sanctions by shipping technology products to Iran and North Korea. The violation of sanctions resulted in a hefty fine for ZTE but the alleged theft of US intellectual property was also exacerbated by potential network/back door security concerns. 

In a surprise negotiating position, President Trump conceded that the punitive moves placed an extraordinary financial hardship on ZTE, jeopardized the employment of thousands there and threatened ZTE’s viability as a major player in the Chinese technology landscape. Perhaps the Chinese negotiators recognized President Trump’s position; that threats to large scale employment for either the US or China should be avoided. Potential remedies to the ZTE dilemma might include a change in ZTE management and restored access to critical US components with provisions to safeguard intellectual property and resolve network security concerns. With no solution finalized, the ZTE scenario exemplifies the challenges our semiconductor and semi equipment industry will face as Chinese ambitions expand to include a larger scale semiconductor manufacturing economy.

In spite of the constructive overture to ZTE and the Chinese, an unrelenting discussion of President Trump’s trade tactics consumed the weekend.  In a recent discussion on CNBC, many traders expressed their objection to a Trump imposed trade war encompassing a spectrum of consumer and industrial products. Most predicted conflict in the world markets as tariffs are discussed during trade negotiations. I cheered and waved a thumbs up at my TV screen as veteran CNBC commentator Rick Santelli [2] correctly defended President Trump’s position by noting that previous administrations had conceded the trade war years ago and had lost. President Trump is now picking up the pieces, negotiating from the ground up and creating a viable trade platform from which we might establish a fair and equitable balance of international trade.

Comprehensive trade negotiations with China (and the rest of the world) will take time. Preconditioned to operate from an IP Free trade zone (no Intellectual Property protection) without concerns for trade inequities, kleptocrats the world over must accept the new reality of US trade policies. US based corporations and politicians might defer trade discussions as President Trump and his administration do the heavy lifting and negotiate for our economic well being.

In a new world of balanced trade policy US companies should be bolstered by effective new standards protecting intellectual property and best business practices.


Best regards,
Thomas D. Jay

Semiconductor Industry Consultant
Thomas.Dale.Jay@gmail.com
https://ThomasDaleJay.blogspot.com
Thomas D. Jay YouTube Channel

Thomas D. Jay is a member of SPIE and IEEE





Corporate, private entities or publications referenced or linked in this article are the respective owners of their logos, trademarks, service marks, media content and intellectual property. Unless otherwise disclosed, Thomas D. Jay has no financial interest in companies referenced in blog articles or other published media communications. Thomas D. Jay is not a registered financial advisor. No representation is made to either buy or sell securities. Opinions expressed by Thomas D. Jay are his own. Thomas D. Jay does not employ or otherwise utilize/authorize third party agents to express his opinions, represent his interests or conduct business on his behalf except where formally contractually designated. Thomas D. Jay does not agree to indemnify or hold harmless vendors, clients or third parties to related contractual agreements and reserves the right to applicable legal remedies in lieu of arbitration. These terms are subject to change. Concerned parties should check this blog site for periodic updates.



References and acknowledgements:

[1] CNBC News

[2] CNBC News Rick Santelli comments (paraphrased)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

May 15, 2018 - What’s Happening With The US Economy an Update


After President Trump took office economists and market watchers observed the stock market make a steady climb upward. Many pundits were critical of the fanfare as fundamental economic indicators seemed positive but had not yet shown sustained upward momentum. A key economic indicator I’ve been tracking has recently demonstrated three consecutive quarters of upward momentum. The Federal Reserve’s Economic Data as tracked by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (FRED) regularly reports on the M2 Money supply of US Dollars as well as its velocity.

As defined by FRED:

“ [1]The velocity of money is the frequency at which one unit of currency is used to purchase domestically produced goods and services within a given time period. In other words, it is the number of times one dollar is spent to buy goods and services per unit of time. If the velocity of money is increasing, then more transactions are occurring between individuals in an economy. The frequency of currency exchange can be used to determine the velocity of a given component of the money supply, providing some insight into whether consumers and businesses are saving or spending their money. There are several components of the money supply,: M1, M2, and MZM (M3 is no longer tracked by the Federal Reserve); these components are arranged on a spectrum of narrowest to broadest. Consider M1, the narrowest component. M1 is the money supply of currency in circulation (notes and coins, traveler’s checks [non-bank issuers], demand deposits, and checkable deposits). A decreasing velocity of M1 might indicate fewer short term consumption transactions are taking place. We can think of shorter term transactions as consumption we might make on an everyday basis. The broader M2 component includes M1 in addition to saving deposits, certificates of deposit (less than $100,000), and money market deposits for individuals. Comparing the velocities of M1 and M2 provides some insight into how quickly the economy is spending and how quickly it is saving.”

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Velocity of M2 Money Stock [M2V], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/M2V, November 8, 2016.

On November 6, 2016, I reviewed the FRED M2 Velocity graph which illustrated a sustained and worrysome downward trend (see my previous blog post from November 6, 2016).

https://thomasdalejay.blogspot.com/2016/11/pre-election-special-whats-really.html

That year we continued to see news stories about Wall Street gains along with monthly cheers for small, incremental increases in the employment rate while still puzzling over our economic stagnation. The Obama administration had ceased the larger publication of the complete scale of unemployment data publishing only the U3 component (although table A15 citing tables U1–U6 is still published). With almost 10% of our nation unemployed we had a serious problem. Then Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen correctly observed and reported the unemployment dilemma immediately after taking office. As the inflation rate was in single digits, Yellen continued economic stimulus of the M2 money supply but was reluctant to raise interest rates for fear of stalling the M2 velocity further and crashing our still fragile consumer economy. Obama Care and regulatory policies had crippled the US economy, placing greater financial burdens on employers and individuals by discouraging the hire of new, full time employees.

The current May 15, 2018 Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Velocity of M2 Money Stock chart is displayed below. Note the recovery since Q2 2017 and sustained upward trajectory of the M2 velocity through Q1 2018. Although data can be collected and displayed rapidly many factors reported by FRED are trends reflecting time constants inherent in a complex economy. Improvement in economic trend lines as expressed by consumer spending can sometimes manifest itself in a slow upward ramp as a large population builds its confidence in market conditions over time.


The May 2018 Federal Reserve M2 Velocity Chart Shows 3 Consecutive Quarters of Growth











Jerome H. Powell was sworn in as Federal Reserve Chairman on February 5, 2018. Appointed by President Trump he succeeds Janet Yellon. As the economy improves Chairman Powell has resumed Yellon’s watch on interest rates as spending increases and business expands.

Three major factors restored the M2 velocity and broader economic trends:

1. The Obama Care tax penalty mandate was recently recinded by congress (tax penalties for those who couldn’t afford the premium payments).

2. President Trump’s tax cut passed by congress was a major boon to employers resulting in large scale bonuses and wage hikes for many hourly employees.

3. President Trump removed many of the regulations imposed on business during the Obama years. The coal industry was almost completely destroyed by zealous regulators who championed solar power as an alternative rather than complementary asset to our traditional coal energy resources.

President Trump continues to champion US business by addressing unfair trade deficit issues with the international community. In addition, President Trump plans to pursue additional tax cuts which should further stimulate the economy. The repatriation of $Trillions in US business cash assets from overseas banks and the return of outsourced manufacturing to the US mainland should help sustain US job growth.

A final note: After years of trending downward I saw the M2 Velocity move upward for the first time a few months ago and was eager to report the news. As a former trader on the NYSE and NASDAQ and as a career semiconductor industry executive/strategist, caution tempered my enthusiasm. It seemed prudent to observe a few quarters of sustained upward momentum before reporting what I consider to be a significant inflection point in the US economy.

I add my voice to the many who have already declared our economy is experiencing real recovery which should sustain itself throughout President Trumps term of office and influence.

Best regards,

Thomas D. Jay

Semiconductor Industry Consultant
Thomas.Dale.Jay@gmail.com
https://ThomasDaleJay.blogspot.com
Thomas D. Jay YouTube Channel

Thomas D. Jay is a member of SPIE and IEEE





Corporate, private entities or publications referenced or linked in this article are the respective owners of their logos, trademarks, service marks, media content and intellectual property. Unless otherwise disclosed, Thomas D. Jay has no financial interest in companies referenced in blog articles or other published media communications. Thomas D. Jay is not a registered financial advisor. No representation is made to either buy or sell securities. Opinions expressed by Thomas D. Jay are his own. Thomas D. Jay does not employ or otherwise utilize/authorize third party agents to express his opinions, represent his interests or conduct business on his behalf except where formally contractually designated. Thomas D. Jay does not agree to indemnify or hold harmless vendors, clients or third parties to related contractual agreements and reserves the right to applicable legal remedies in lieu of arbitration. These terms are subject to change. Concerned parties should check this blog site for periodic updates.


References and acknowledgements:

[1] Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Velocity of M2 Money Stock [M2V], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/M2V

[2] Thomas D. Jay blog post November 6, 2016  https://thomasdalejay.blogspot.com/2016/11/pre-election-special-whats-really.html
[3]  US Bureau of Labor Statistics web site

although table A15 citing tables U1–U6 is still published

[4] Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?id=M2V,#0

[5] Jerome H. Powell
https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/pressreleases/other20180205a.htm


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Quantum Assisted Metrology for Semiconductor Lithography


Unfortunately I was unable to attend the 2018 SPIE Advanced Lithography Conference but I continue to follow the subject of EUV Lithography with great interest. Having reviewed the many articles published after the conference, I have summarized my own thoughts and observations.

When I first entered the semiconductor market place, half micron CDs were the state of the art and the world anticipated the arrival of 0.2 micron geometries. Metrology mapping systems rapidly proliferated and provided visualization of critical resistivity, film thickness and lithography parametrics. Equally important, SPC (Statistical Process Control) enabled the effective management of complex multi-layer devices which became ever more challenging over time. Available metrology capabilities captured data collected from up to 625 sites (imagine) on a wafer’s process layer creating mountains of data for SPC analysis. I remember customer sites where process engineers crowded around metrology tools waiting for wafer maps to appear. Given the 286 microprocessor technology at the time, several agonizing minutes were required to compile and display wafer maps. Impatient process engineers were quickly rewarded with more rapid analysis as 386 and 486 microprocessors arrived. One day we were all stunned as a newly installed Pentium equipped work station displayed maps instantly with no wait time. Surplus processor speeds further advanced metrology by enabling statistical enhancement and stochastic analysis on the fly. With idle CPU time it became possible to dwell over a single test site, make multiple measurements and statistically treat the data enhancing accuracy and precision. Wafer maps comprised of such data yielded superior process control and set expectations for future device designs.

Fast forward to ten years ago. Enhancements in CPU speed and metrology went on to enable computational lithography. As it turns out, what you see is not always what you get from a mask design. Unanticipated effects can occur when mask design combined with local physical effects yield distorted images when printed on a wafer. In these instances lithography tool characteristics and mask metrology data can be utilized to compute an optical correction for the mask. Computational lithography can yield an altered mask structure which appears malformed but prints the intended image when corrected for distorting influences.

The benefits of computational lithography are best obtained in a data rich environment; tool data obtained from focus exposure plots, TIS data, physical interactions of materials and other well understood process variables. The current challenge posed by EUVL is the absence of information required for analysis. Even with advanced computer algorithms smoothing stochastic/random data a sufficiently accurate distribution of process/event related phenomenon are not available in the absence of a photon rich environment.  EUV photon densities which can be counted on one hand yield process uncertainties you can drive a Mack truck through (I hear this is being worked on). These observations have been discussed extensively at prior conferences; CD uniformity, LER (Line Edge Roughness) often thought to be primarily dosimetry related can be caused by other influential factors. Having studied many conference materials published by the eBeam Initiative, it seemed advanced ebeam shot tasking algorithms provided the best pattern generation abilities, providing precise control of beam energy/current, dwell time over target and beam spot size. In spite of precise control of these critical variables, ebeam lithography can still benefit from computational lithography analysis.



Full Circle With Line Edge Roughness

It would seem the 2018 SPIE conference has brought us full circle, resuming prior discussions on available EUV source power and compensation for its absence. We are again discussing resist materials for use with less than optimal EUV power; their sensitivities to secondary emissions and related cause/effect variables. It would seem we must pursue three strategies in the continued quest for EUVL.

1. QAM (Quantum Assisted Metrology). The number of structures resulting from 5 nm design rules in High Volume Manufacturing continue to grow geometrically. Given fifty or more mask levels it will be challenging to fabricate trillions of critical device structures, all of which must be perfectly formed to achieve anticipated process yields. The lithography challenge here remains significant as it is reported that EUV masks are not yet interchangeable among EUV steppers. The metrology required for analysis and SPC of such devices is currently insufficient to the task as any measurement speed improvements are offset by the sheer volume of CDs to be measured. QAM (Quantum Assisted Metrology) providing parallel processing of data distributed among multiple logic states would seem to be a priority pursuit in extending the viability of EUVL.

2. QA-IMF (Quantum Assisted - In-situ Metrology Fabrication). Assuming the successful implementation of QAM, a future EUVL strategy might entail a QAM module providing real time feedback of metrology/process control information to QA-IMF (Quantum Assisted - In-situ Metrology Fabrication tools). Metrology data fed back to optimize fabrication/lithography tool accuracy is not a new concept but when considered for use with EUVL on 5 nm structures we must similarly consider the implementation of Quantum computed data to make the concept viable. E beam systems are being proposed featuring In-situ metrology providing feed back to enhance write accuracy. Similarly implemented in EUVL, such systems could benefit from this design approach and greatly improve speed, accuracy and precision for advanced maufacturing.

3. Continued development of a high power/uptime EUV light source. I will not elaborate here other than to say we are all aware we will need an abundance of EUV photons to adequately address future EUVL requirements.


In conclusion, I continue to follow the EUV program and the contributions of many with great interest. It would seem the application of quantum computing might provide the best approach to any demanding semiconductor problem set inclusive of EUVL.  [1] IBM seems a likely candidate to assist in providing an accelerated path adapting quantum computation to semiconductor applications.

We will see what the future brings.

Regards to all,


Thomas D. Jay
Semiconductor Industry Consultant
Thomas.Dale.Jay@gmail.com
https://ThomasDaleJay.blogspot.com
Thomas D. Jay YouTube Channel

Thomas D. Jay is a member of SPIE and IEEE





Corporate, private entities or publications referenced or linked in this article are the respective owners of their logos, trademarks, service marks, media content and intellectual property. Unless otherwise disclosed, Thomas D. Jay has no financial interest in companies referenced in blog articles or other published media communications. Thomas D. Jay is not a registered financial advisor. No representation is made to either buy or sell securities. Opinions expressed by Thomas D. Jay are his own. Thomas D. Jay does not employ or otherwise utilize/authorize third party agents to express his opinions, represent his interests or conduct business on his behalf except where formally contractually designated. Thomas D. Jay does not agree to indemnify or hold harmless vendors, clients or third parties to related contractual agreements and reserves the right to applicable legal remedies in lieu of arbitration. These terms are subject to change. Concerned parties should check this blog site for periodic updates.


References and acknowledgements:

[1] IBM web site
https://youtu.be/yy6TV9Dntlw






Friday, January 12, 2018

Net Neutrality and Cable Broadcasting in the Public Interest



On December 14, 2017 the FCC voted to rescind US Internet access rules termed “Net Neutrality”. Simply stated, Net Neutrality ensured common carrier/equal access to the Internet without regard to infrastructure ownership or incidental third party network traffic. By rescinding net neutrality rules FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai encouraged major network players to invest in new infrastructure without concern for the incidental subsidization of competition carried on their privately owned networks. Network owners can now slow or block competitive traffic on their systems and prioritize their own services or programming. While a controversial move, the ruling removes the on-going inhibitions of key industry players contemplating expansive investment in new Internet/network technologies. Passage of President Trump’s Tax Reform legislation further prompted major industry players AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner to proceed with planned capital investments in their networks. After the tax bill was signed, major cable system providers announced their intentions to invest in new Internet infrastructure. As the affirmation of owner/operator control of the Internet displaces the common carrier philosophy of Barack Obama, Internet capacity should expand at an accelerating rate as new technologies displace aging hardware. With the US government rescinding net neutrality and facilitating capital investment, the Internet’s evolution toward privately owned infrastructure will foment new efficiencies of scale as well as future challenges to the treatment of public interest policy.


Broadcasting in the Public Interest

For the purpose of this discussion we must first consider the current market segmentation of publicly available Internet based communication services (including cell phones), entertainment programming (cable and satellite carriers) along with on-the-air broadcast of TV news and programming.  In the early days of broadcasting the Communications Act of 1934 established rules for the broadcast of radio and TV programming. The FCC assigned radio and TV channels to commercial broadcast operators with the understanding they operate in the public interest. Public interest programming standards ensured family friendly program content, and reinforced established cultural mores (limiting profanity and program content). Network censors monitored commercial broadcasts and “bleeped out” inappropriate content during live programming while recorded programming was subject to censor review and edited as required prior to broadcast. News and information programming was reviewed for accuracy and ethical treatment of subject matter. Today, on-the-air programming is similarly monitored and subject to standards which have evolved over the years. However the emergence of the non-broadcast cable industry has radically changed programming and network news content and requires we rethink the concept of broadcasting in the public interest.

Cable distribution of television programming has evaded broadcast “public interest” regulations as the transmission of content is made on a closed commercially owned system available by encrypted subscription only. Because the programming is not available to the public, the prevailing broadcast rules which set standards for family friendly content may not apply. Hence the popularity and distribution of the racy programs popular on cable networks. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 establishes more current guide lines for programming and media content.


A Possible Solution – Create a Two Tier Public/Private Internet System for the US

That said, we must consider the advantage/necessity of restoring unhindered access to the Internet as per net neutrality rules. Given unhindered access, we must also address concerns and ensure services and programming provide a safe, family friendly environment.  On January 8, 2018 President Trump signed an executive order providing broadband service for rural communities. We should urge President Trump and the FCC to establish standards for two systems; a commercial system owned and operated by private operators such as Comcast and Time Warner as well as a net neutral system sponsored/subsidized by the US government and private/commercial sponsors. Under such an arrangement, paid private cable subscription programming could continue in its current form while a second publicly available net neutral system could provide both public access to the Internet and ensure a trustworthy conduit for family friendly programming operating under the FCC’s "Public Interest” rules. The details of such an arrangement would require a rethink by the FCC and the cable industry and might require new authorizations and funding by congress. It would seem a one size fits all Internet system requires a two tier approach to accommodate a large US based private/public market place.


Best regards,


Thomas D. Jay is a member of SPIE and IEEE









Corporate, private entities or publications referenced or linked in this article are the respective owners of their logos, trademarks, service marks, media content and intellectual property. Unless otherwise disclosed, Thomas D. Jay has no financial interest in companies referenced in blog articles or other published media communications. Thomas D. Jay is not a registered financial advisor. No representation is made to either buy or sell securities. Opinions expressed by Thomas D. Jay are his own. Thomas D. Jay does not employ or otherwise utilize/authorize third party agents to express his opinions, represent his interests or conduct business on his behalf except where formally contractually designated. Thomas D. Jay does not agree to indemnify or hold harmless vendors, clients or third parties to related contractual agreements and reserves the right to applicable legal remedies in lieu of arbitration. These terms are subject to change. Concerned parties should check this blog site for periodic updates.

Acknowledgments and Reference Links

[1] Communications Act of 1934
Wikipedia

[2] Telecommunications Act of 1996
FCC.gov

[3] President Trump Executive Order January 8, 2018
White House.gov