The current global shortage in microchips is affecting a lot of industries, and all eyes are suddenly on the semiconductor industry.

The shortage was brought about not only by the coronavirus disruptions, but also by a longer structural demand taking shape in emerging industries such as electric vehicles and 5G devices.

For 5G, only 20 per cent of smartphones worldwide had 5G technology in 2020, but that is set to increase markedly in the years to come.

New inventions in IoT and AI devices have also led to more sophisticated electronics being made, and will only accelerate the demand for microchips and seminconductors.

On the ASX, there are quite a few semiconductor players vying for these markets.

Although it was briefly caught in the US-China trade spat last year, the industry has mostly rebounded over the past 12 months.

Revasum (ASX:RVS) is one such company listed on the ASX. The California-based outfit’s shares price jumped 18 per cent after announcing that it received the first purchase order for two 6EZ Silicon Carbide (SiC) polishers from a NASDAQ-listed major global semiconductor manufacturer.

The 6EZ is the company’s flagship polisher, designed to process SiC substrates and polish 150mm-200mm SiC wafers.

Revasum specialises in the design of equipment used in the semiconductor device manufacturing process. Its products include grinding, polishing and CMP equipment used to manufacture substrates and devices for the global semiconductor industry. It recently raised almost $7m to market the 6EZ product range.

But even with yesterday’s bump, it’s not one of the best perfomers in the sectors, with the share price falling by more than 26 per cent over the past year.

There are other semiconductor players on the ASX which have performed better.

 

 

Silex (ASX:SLX)

Silex is the best performer of the bunch. The company’s subsidiary, Translucent Inc, developed a novel set of semiconductor materials known as ‘crystalline Rare Earth Oxides (cREO)’ for application in semiconductor devices.

This includes wireless and optical communications devices which use high performance compound semiconductor materials rather than silicon.

cREO is a potentially enabling platform technology that could create a step change in the integration of various compound semiconductor devices with large scale silicon wafer-based production techniques.

Brainchip (ASX:BRN)

Brainchip has claimed that it is the only publicly listed pure-play AI company.

The company focuses on the development of its Akida Neuromorphic Processor, which powers smart homes, transportations, cities, as well as the health sector.

In April, the company announced that it has begun volume manufacturing of its Akida AKD1000 neuromorphic processor chip for edge AI devices.

The company is yet to make a profit, but is well funded with $20 million in cash at the end of the last quarter.

Weebit Nano (ASX:WBT)

Weebit is the inventor of ReRAM, a faster and lower-power memory chip that was built to power wearables, Internet of Things (ioT) devices, and a host of AI applications.

The ReRAM cell functions similarly to a synapse in the brain, making it an ideal solution for neuromorphic computing, which drives AI.

During the last quarter, the company has come closer to its first commercial agreement, and is targeting one by mid-year.

The company is yet to make any revenue, but its share price has risen by almost 400 per cent over the past 12 months.

4DS Technology (ASX:4DS)

4DS is a pioneer of the Interface Switching ReRAM, a unique area-based ReRAM technology for storage in mobile devices and cloud data centers.

The company has 28 US patents for a bunch of its memory chip technology, which it developed entirely in-house.

It is about to move towards commercialisation of its high-density storage class memory tech products.

With a market cap of $211m and growing, the company was recently added to the MCSI (Morgan Stanley Capital International) Micro Cap Australia Index .

BluGlass (ASX:BLG)

BluGlass develops semiconductor technology called remote plasma chemical vapour deposition (RPCVD), for the production of high efficiency devices such as light emitting diodes, laser diodes and power electronics.

The company says RPCVD has several potential advantages over current manufacturing techniques, promising a cleaner, lower temperature and lower cost method of manufacture.

​It recently appointed Jean-Michel Pelaprat, a renowned laser industry pioneer, to join the BluGlass board.