IEF 2013: New markets and opportunities in sub-20nm era!

October 15, 2013

Future Horizons hosted the 22nd Annual International Electronics Forum, in association with IDA Ireland, on Oct. 2-4, 2013, at Dublin, Blanchardstown, Ireland. The forum was titled ‘New Markets and Opportunities in the Sub-20nm Era: Business as Usual OR It’s Different This Time.” Here are excerpts from some of the sessions. Those desirous of finding out much more should contact Malcolm Penn, CEO, Future Horizons.

Liam BritnellLiam Britnell, European manager and Research Scientist, Bluestone Global Tech (BGT) Materials spoke on Beyond Graphene: Heterostructures and Other Two-Dimensional Materials.

The global interest in graphene research has facilitated our understanding of this rather unique material. However, the transition from the laboratory to factory has hit some challenging obstacles. In this talk I will review the current state of graphene research, focusing on the techniques which allow large scale production.

I will then discuss various aspects of our research which is based on more complex structures beyond graphene. Firstly, hexagonal boron nitride can be used as a thin dielectric material where electrons can tunnel through. Secondly, graphene-boron nitride stacks can be used as tunnelling transistor devices with promising characteristics. The same devices show interesting physics, for example, negative differential conductivity can be found at higher biases. Finally, graphene stacked with thin semiconducting layers which show promising results in photodetection.

I will conclude by speculating the fields where graphene may realistically find applications and discuss the role of the National Graphene Institute in commercializing graphene.

Jean-Rene Lequepeys, VP Silicon Components, CEA-Leti, spoke on  Advanced Semiconductor Technologies Enabling High-Performance Jean-Rene Lequepeysand Energy Efficient Computing.

The key challenge for future high-end computing chips is energy efficiency in addition to traditional challenges such as yield/cost, static power, data transfer. In 2020, in order to maintain at an acceptable level the overall power consumption of all the computing systems, a gain in term of power efficiency of 1000 will be required.

To reach this objective, we need to work not only at process and technology level, but to propose disruptive multi-processor SoC architecture and to make some major evolutions on software and on the development of
applications. Some key semiconductor technologies will definitely play a key role such as: low power CMOS technologies, 3D stacking, silicon photonics and embedded non-volatile memory.

To reach this goal, the involvement of semiconductor industries will be necessary and a new ecosystem has to be put in place for establishing stronger partnerships between the semiconductor industry (IDM, foundry), IP provider, EDA provider, design house, systems and software industries.

Andile NgcabaAndile Ngcaba, CEO, Convergence Partners, spoke on Semiconductor’s Power and Africa – An African Perspective.

This presentation looks at the development of the semiconductor and electronics industries from an African perspective, both globally and in Africa. Understanding the challenges that are associated with the wide scale adoption of new electronics in the African continent.

Electronics have taken over the world, and it is unthinkable in today’s modern life to operate without utilising some form of electronics on a daily basis. Similarly, in Africa the development and adoption of electronics and utilisation of semiconductors have grown exponentially. This growth on the African continent was due to the rapid uptake of mobile communications. However, this has placed in stark relief the challenges facing increased adoption of electronics in Africa, namely power consumption.

This background is central to the thesis that the industry needs to look at addressing the twin challenges of low powered and low cost devices. In Africa there are limits to the ability to frequently and consistently charge or keep electronics connected to a reliable electricity grid. Therefore, the current advances in electronics has resulted in the power industry being the biggest beneficiary of the growth in the adoption of electronics.

What needs to be done is for the industry to support and foster research on this subject in Africa, working as a global community. The challenge is creating electronics that meet these cost and power challenges. Importantly, the solution needs to be driven by the semiconductor industry not the power industry. Focus is to be placed on operating in an off-grid environment and building sustainable solutions to the continued challenge of the absence of reliable and available power.

It is my contention that Africa, as it has done with the mobile communications industry and adoption of LED lighting, will leapfrog in terms of developing and adopting low powered and cost effective electronics.

Jo De Boeck, senior VP and CTO, IMEC, discussed Game-Changing Technology Roadmaps For Lifescience. Jo De Boeck

Personalized, preventive, predictive and participatory healthcare is on the horizon. Many nano-electronics research groups have entered the quest for more efficient health care in their mission statement. Electronic systems are proposed to assist in ambulatory monitoring of socalled ‘markers’ for wellness and health.

New life science tools deliver the prospect of personal diagnostics and therapy in e.g., the cardiac, neurological and oncology field. Early diagnose, detailed and fast screening technology and companioning devices to deliver the evidence of therapy effectiveness could indeed stir a – desperately needed – healthcare revolution. This talk addresses the exciting trends in ‘PPPP’ health care and relates them to an innovation roadmap in process technology, electronic circuits and system concepts.

Dr. Wally RhinesDr. Walden C. Rhines (Wally), chairman and CEO, Mentor Graphics, spoke about The Big Squeeze.

For decades, we’ve known it was coming and now it’s here. Moore’s Law—which is really just a special case of the “learning curve”—can no longer drive the 30 percent per year reduction in cost per transistor, beginning with the 20/16/14 nm generation. Either we find innovations beyond just shrinking feature sizes and increasing wafer diameter or we slow our progress down the learning curve, introducing innovative new electronic capabilities at a slower rate than in the past.

There are lots of alternatives, including a reduction in profitability of the members of the supply chain, to keep the progress continuing at the same rate as the last fifty years. Dr. Rhines provided a roadmap of possibilities for the decade ahead.

Mike Legoff, CEO, Plessey Semiconductors, spoke about the Challenge For The Semiconductor Industry In Burgeoning Solid State Lighting Mike Legoff Markets.

Utilising its strengths in sensor and mixed-signal semiconductor manufacturing Plessey has taken on the challenge of building low cost light emitting diodes (LEDs) as part of its products strategy. Together with some growth technology acquired from a University of Cambridge spin-out the challenge for Plessey is to make LED manufacture as high yielding and efficient as a simple diode.

LeGoff explained the technical and market challenges in moving into a completely new field which is dominated by non-technical manufacturing and low sophistication of end user applications into a market that currently consumes 20 percent of the global energy supply.

Could lighting be the next application to be digitized? LeGoff discussed his experiences with the Chinese market and technology in SSL and gives his opinion as to why only a handful of technology companies are attempting to move LED manufacture into the sub-20nm era.

Dr. Yee-Chaung SeeDr. Yee-Chaung See, senior director, R&D, TSMC, discussed the Collaborative Innovation Opportunities for the European Commission in Mobile Nanoeletronics Era.

We have entered the new mobile era. In 2010, smartphone shipment tripled and surpassed total PC shipment. Projected CAGR of 89 percent from 2012 to 2017 presents great opportunities for innovation. Tomorrow’s smartphones and tablets will integrate functions into a more portable form factor which bring challenges of integration.

A new paradigm of system scaling is proposed by combining Si wafer based chip scaling and Cu-TSV 3D chip stacking to provide the ultimate energy-efficient scaling for system integration to realize a “Green System in a Si superchip”.

In this mobile nanoeletronics era, the industry also faces major economic challenges. The wafer cost parity of node-to-node increases dramatically beyond 32nm technologies. Innovations on shrinking technology with low cost are essential. There are tremendous opportunities for collaborative innovation in this new era of system scaling for the continued growth of the nano-electronic industry.

TSMC’s OIP is a thriving ecosystem that cultivates concurrent design and technology development. Propelled by the largest R&D investment in the industry, TSMC’s OIP ecosystem fosters and unleashes innovations by shrinking design time and time-to-market as well as fast productization. And now by expanding the OIP ecosystem to include equipment vendors and academia, we have forged a grand alliance of collaboration with our customers, our key equipment providers and the OIP ecosystem partners to the benefit of our industry.

Europe plays a key role in the research and development of the semiconductor industry and now through collaborative innovation can build on the opportunities of the mobile nanoelectronics era. The European Commission (EC) is encouraging this innovation through its Horizon 2020 program which is bringing together key industry innovators to overcome the hurdles of chip scaling. Examples, such as equipment development for 450mm wafer processing, and next generation lithographic solutions, such as the EUV and Direct Write Multi-ebeam are leading the industry to meet challenges of the mobile nanoelectronics era.

Wayne Dai, chairman, VeriSilicon Holdings, spoke about Design Lite: New Era Of Fabless. Wayne Dai

The R&D expenditures of semiconductor industry as a percentage of revenue exceeds 17 percent, the highest among all industries including pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Semiconductor revenue grows 1.5-1.6X and R&D grows 2.2-2.5X during 2000-2010.

The R&D expenditures as a percentage of revenue of the semiconductor is expected to reach 23.5 percent by 2020 vs. 15.8 percent in 2006. There is a need for 10X revenues to provide good financial returns. There was significant decrease of A round venture investment to fabless companies, which are critical for the innovations.

While wafer foundries established fabless companies 20 years ago, IP vendors and design foundries will enable a new era for fabless companies: design lite. Design lite is the result of system-on-chip. The processors in an SoC requires specific expertise and the commodity blocks added no value. Design foundries have experts with more implementation experience over a greater number of designs and can aggregate the bargaining power with IP vendors and manufactures, in particular fabs. Design lite makes a significant change in business model for fabless companies and enable them much more capital lite.

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  1. October 15, 2013 at 10:00 am
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