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Moore’s Law could come to an end within next decade: POET

August 28, 2013 1 comment

Dr. Geoff Taylor

Dr. Geoff Taylor

POET Technologies Inc., based in Storrs Mansfield, Connecticut, USA, and formerly, OPEL Technologies Inc., is the developer of an integrated circuit platform that will power the next wave of innovation in integrated circuits, by combining electronics and optics onto a single chip for massive improvements in size, power, speed and cost.

POET’s current IP portfolio includes more than 34 patents and seven pending. POET’s core principles have been in development by director and chief scientist, Dr. Geoff Taylor, and his team at the University of Connecticut for the past 18 years, and are now nearing readiness for commercialization opportunities. It recently managed to successfully integrate optics and electronics onto one monolithic chip.

Elaborating, Dr. Geoff Taylor, said: “POET stands for Planar Opto Electronic Technology. The POET platform is a patented semiconductor fabrication process, which provides integrated circuit devices containing both electronic and optical elements on a single chip. This has significant advantages over today’s solutions in terms of density, reliability and power, at a lower cost.

“POET removes the need for retooling, while providing lower costs, power savings and increased reliability. For example, an optoelectronic device using POET technology can achieve estimated cost savings back to the manufacturer of 80 percent compared to the hybrid silicon devices that are widely used today.

“The POET platform is a flexible one that can be applied to virtually any market, including memory, digital/mobile, sensor/laser and electro-optical, among many others. The platform uses two compounds – gallium and arsenide – that will allow semiconductor manufacturers to make microchips that are faster and more energy efficient than current silicon devices, and less expensive to produce.

“The core POET research and development team has spent more than 20 years on components of the platform, including 32 patents (and six patents pending).”

Moore’s Law to end next decade?
Is silicon dead and how much more there is to Moore’s Law?

According to Dr. Taylor, POET Technologies’ view is that Moore’s Law could come to an end within the next decade, particularly as semiconductor companies have recently highlighted difficulties in transitioning to the next generation of chipsets, or can only see two to three generations ahead.

Transistor density and its impact on product cost has been the traditional guideline for advancing computer technology because density has been accomplished by device shrinkage translating to performance improvement. Moore’s Law begins to fail when performance improvement translates less and less to device shrinkage – and this is occurring now at an increasing rate.

He added: “For POET Technologies, however, the question to answer is not when Moore’s Law will end – but what next. Rather than focus on how many more years we can expect Moore’s Law to last – or pinpoint a specific stumbling block to achieving the next generation of chipsets, POET looks at the opportunities for new developments and solutions to continue advancements in computing.

“So, for POET Technologies, we’re focusing less on existing integrated circuit materials and processes and more towards a different track with significant future runway. Our platform is a patented semiconductor fabrication process, which concentrates on delivering increases in performance at lower cost – and meets ongoing consumer appetites for faster, smaller and more power efficient computing.”
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Will global semicon industry see growth in 2013?

February 2, 2013 14 comments

How will the global semiconductor industry perform in 2013? After a contrasting spell of predictions for 2012, I see no change in 2013! So, what’s the answer to the million-dollar question posed as my headline? 🙂

Global electronics industry.

Global electronics industry.

After a disappointing and challenging 2012, global semiconductor executives believe that the worst is nearly behind them, and they are making investments to position their companies for a sustained, broad-based, multi-year recovery in 2013, as per a KPMG global semiconductor survey.

On Feb. 3, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) announced that worldwide semiconductor sales for 2012 reached $291.6 billion, the industry’s third-highest yearly total, ever but a decrease of 2.7 percent from the record total of $299.5 billion set in 2011. Total sales for the year narrowly beat expectations from the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization’s industry forecast.

The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) estimated that the global semiconductor market in 2012 will be $290 billion, down 3.2 percent from 2011, followed by a recovery of positive 4.5 percent growth to $303 billion in 2013.

The worldwide semiconductor revenue is projected to total $311 billion in 2013, a 4.5 percent increase from 2012 revenue, according to Gartner Inc. The worldwide semiconductor revenue totaled $298 billion in 2012, a 3 percent decline from 2011 revenue of $307 billion, according to preliminary results by Gartner.

The outlook for the global semiconductor industry in 2013 will likely be 7.9 percent, according to Future Horizons. It means, the industry will likely grow to $315.4 billion in 2013. The Cowan LRA foreasting model put out the following sales and year-on-year sales growth numbers for 2012 and 2013: $292.992 billion (-2.2 percent) and $309.244 billion (+5.5 percent), respectively.

Databeans expects 2013 will see a rebound, with the semiconductor industry growing by 7 percent from 2012 totals to reach $313.04 billion. IDC forecasted that the worldwide semiconductor revenues will grow 4.9 percent and reach $319 billion in 2013.

IHS iSuppli claimed that the semiconductor silicon revenue will close 2012 at $303 billion, down 2.3 percent from $310 billion in 2011. The projected decline comes in contrast to the 1.3 percent gain made last year.

IC Insights forecasted 6 percent IC unit growth for 2013 based on expectations of global GDP to rise to 3.2 percent. According to IC

Source: VLSI Research, USA.

Source: VLSI Research, USA.

Insights, in 2017, China is expected to represent 38 percent of the worldwide IC market, up from 23 percent, 10 years earlier in 2007. Does this mean the USA and Europe are loosing their sheen?

The global semiconductor industry may record only 1.5 percent growth In 2013, as per The Infornation Network. There is, however, the possibility for a snap-back in revenues for 2013, irrespective of macroeconomic factors, such as what occurred in 2010.

Over the next three years, industry analysts estimate the global industry will grow approximately 6 percent 2013-2016 CAGR, according to Somshubro Pal Choudhury, managing director, Analog Devices India Pvt. Ltd.

Late 2012, I was speaking with Dr. Wally Rhines, chairman and CEO, Mentor Graphics. He said: “After almost no growth in 2012, most of the analysts are expecting improvement in semiconductor market growth in the coming year. Currently, the analyst forecasts for the semiconductor industry in 2013 range from 4.2 percent on the low side to 16.6 percent on the high side, with most firms coming in between 6 percent and 10 percent. The average of forecasts among the major semiconductor analyst firms is approximately 8.2 percent.”

WSTS also anticipates the world market to grow 5.2 percent to $319 billion in 2014, with healthy mid single digit growth across most of geographical regions and semiconductor product categories, supported by the healthier economy of the world.

Lastly, Forbes said that 2013 will be a turning point for the global semiconductor market.
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Ph.D candidates in VLSI industry! Is enough being done?


“Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together.” – John Ruskin.

“Great men’s honor ought always to be measured by the methods they made use of in attaining it.” – François Duc De La Rochefoucauld.

The 26th International Conference on VLSI Design 2013 is starting tomorrow at Hyatt Regency, Pune. Over the years, it has served as a forum for VLSI folks to discuss topics related to VLSI design, EDA, embedded systems, etc. The theme for the VLSI and embedded systems conference is green technology.

That brings me to a point raised by one reader of this blog- what’s the future of  Ph.D candidates in the VLSI industry! First, do not believe when you are told that you can only join academics in case you are a Ph.D. You can certainly switch over to R&D at the various VLSI companies! Or, you can start on your own, by developing something noteworthy!!

As for the current scenario, especially in India, students, or well, Ph.D holders should seriously consider developing useful projects for  use in India, and globally. It seems all too very easy for folks to join some large MNC in India or overseas, as according to such people: their jobs are done!

For some strange reason, semiconductor/VLSI development seems to have remained in the backburner in India! I was surprised on visiting a center in Bangalore to find students – actually, some Ph.D. holders – working on projects that may never even see the light of the day! That leads to the question: are the tutors guiding them enough? Do we even have systems in place that backs development?

Having spent a long time in the Far East, I have seen young Chinese and Taiwanese, Korean and Japanese men and women take to VLSI earnestly. How did they manage to do that? Mainly, by starting their own companies and developing some product!

Now, this is something not yet evident in India! Has anyone else asked this question? And, can the Indian VLSI community make this happen? It should not be very difficult, if the head, hand and heart are there in the deed!

As John Ruskin says, “Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together.”

François Duc De La Rochefoucauld. says, “Great men’s honor ought always to be measured by the methods they made use of in attaining it.”

Hope these words make sense! Developing and designing solutions is a fine art where the hand, the head and the heart must be in sync. And, if you have really developed a solution or a product, what were the methods you used to attain that! Answering these two questions are tough, but the answers really lie within us!

My question remains: do students (in India) really spend time for developing projects, or do they simply copy or buy projects?

Coming back to the VLSI conference, this year’s program will play host to the 4th IEEE International Workshop on Reliability Aware System Design and Test (RASDAT) as well. There will be discussions around topics such as design-for-test, fault-tolerant micro architecture, low power test, reliability of CMOS circuits, design for reliability, dependability and verifiability, etc.

A semiconductor company will likely be introducing a portable and affordable analog design kit. Students will no longer be required to go to expensive labs for developing projects. There should be lot of simulation tools, online course materials, community support, lab materials, etc. to use using the analog design kit. There should be a string of announcements too, so let’s wait for the event to start!

IMEC’s 450mm R&D initiative for nanoelectronics ecosystem

November 1, 2012 Comments off

Roger de Keersmaecker, IMEC, Belgium, presented on IMEC’s 450mm R&D initiative in support of the nanoelectronics ecosystem at the Semicon Europa event in Dresden, Germany. IMEC has prepared an integrated 450mm R&D initiative. This will present an innovation engine supporting the global nanoelectronics ecosystem.

IMEC will play a key role in the acceleration of 450mm equipment development by timely installation of alpha/beta-demo tools for early learning, in an industry-relevant technology flow and ensuring patterning capability by early 2016. The 450mm R&D pilot line will enable full 450mm process capability for advanced nodes by early 2017.

Source: IMEC, Belgium.

Source: IMEC, Belgium.

Scaling
Logic device scaling slows down and ‘interim’ nodes are likely to be introduced. Disruptive devices are needed beyond 10nm. NAND flash is migrating from 2D floating gate to 3D SONOS device architecture.

Emerging memories are being introduced at 1x nm node. The parallel system scaling path done using 3D TSV technology is established and slowly gaining in momentum. Die cost is also exploding. There is an increasing need for an innovation pipeline, early design/technology co-optimization and cost reduction.

IMEC announced the opening of 300mm CR expansion on June 8, 2010. The cleanroom expansion is 450mm ready. There is 1,200m2 extra clean room space, and ready for EUV. Fab 1 is a 200mm pilot line and 5200 m2 CR (1750 m2 Class 1), with 24/7 continuous operation. Fab 2 is a 300mm pilot line with ball room, clean sub-fab, and 3200 m2 + 1200 m2 CR, also in 24/7 continuous operation.

IMEC started engineering new 450mm clean room in 2012. It has plans to stat constructing the clean room in 2013 and complete by 2015. The Flemish Minister of Innovation, Ingrid Lieten, announced to invest in the building of imec’s 450mm clean room facilities.

With the combination of a state-of-the-art 300mm clean room and the transition to 450mm, imec will be able to keep on delivering its partners topnotch research on (sub)-10nm devices enabling the future growth of the global nanoelectronics industry.
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Cowan LRA model’s updated forecast for global semicon sales 2012


This is a continuation of my coverage of the fortunes of the global semiconductor industry. I would like to acknowledge and thank Mike Cowan, an independent semiconductor analyst and developer of the Cowan LRA model, who has provided me the latest numbers.

Based on the WSTS’s June (posted August 5th, 2012) global semiconductor sales of $26.329 billion, actual sales number, the latest monthly forecast expectation for total global semiconductor sales calculated by the Cowan LRA forecasting model came in at $297 billion.

This represents a 2012 year-on-year sales growth forecast expectation of minus 0.85 percent, which declined from the previous month’s year-over-year sales growth forecast estimate of plus 0.1 percent. It is also lower than the joint WSTS/SIA Spring 2012 sales growth forecast of 0.45 percent, which corresponds to a global sales forecast estimate of $300.9 billion.

Consequently, the latest model’s forecast output is presently (based on June 2012’s actual sales) predicting negative sales growth for 2012 compared to 2011.

It should be pointed out that the model’s previous month’s forecast expectation for June was $27.65 billion. This forecasted sales (published last month) was much higher than the actual June sales result of $26.33 billion (lower by $1.32 billion or down 4.8 percent) resulting in an M.I. (Momentum Indictor) of minus 4.8, implying that the sales growth trend will be ‘mildly’ down over the near term.

Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

Inserting June’s actual sales number into the Cowan LRA forecasting model also yields the latest updated sales forecast expectations for the remaining two quarters of 2012 and the first two quarters of 2013. These results are summarized in the table below. Also included in the table are previous month’s sales and sales growth forecast results for comparative purposes.

As displayed in Table 1, the latest projected full year 2012 global semiconductor sales forecast estimate fell to $297 billion from last month’s sales forecast expectation of $299.8 billion, a decrease of $2.8 billion.

Correspondingly, the updated 2012 sales growth forecast estimate went negative, dropping to minus 0.85 percent from last month’s slightly positive sales growth forecast estimate of plus 0.11 percent, a decrease of almost a full percentage point.

Also note that July’s actual sales estimate is forecasted to come in at $23.2 billion. Thus, July’s actual sales forecast estimate equates to a July 3MMA sales expectation of $24.15 billion, which is down slightly from June’s 3MMA sales result of $24.4 billion. It should be highlighted that this forecasted July 3MMA sales number assumes no (or very minimal) sales revisions to either May or June’s just published sales results by the WSTS.

Additionally with the ‘wrap up’ of the second quarter sales results, year-to-date sales for 2012 (cumulative sales through June) came in at $143 billion compared to last year’s year-to-date sales of $150.6 billion. This coincides to a 2012 year-to-date sales growth of minus 5.1 percent.

This implies that global semiconductor sales for the second half of 2012 must demonstrate some significant strength to reach last year’s sales result of $299.52 billion in order that the full year’s 2012 sales growth is to break even with last year’s sales, let alone show a mildly positive sales growth for the year. Read more…

Is Europe ready for 450mm fabs?


Friends, it has been extremely difficult for me to stay away from my blog! 😉 Not to speak of the thousands of requests! 😉

Malcolm Penn

Malcolm Penn

Well, I’ve been chatting up with Malcolm Penn, chairman and CEO, Future Horizons, lately, on the 450mm fab! In fact, at the  IFS2012-MT mid-term semiconductor industry forecast seminar, he proclaimed that 450mm presented a unique opportunity for Europe!

First, 450mm will allow Europe’s indigenous chip firms to catch up their lost leadership position in advanced CMOS manufacturing, and place them at the forefront of technology in ‘More Moore’ (MM) and ‘More Than Moore’ (MtM). Embracing 450mm will ensure a clear migration path for all future silicon-based chip processing into the foreseeable future. Should Europe’s indigenous chip firms choose to ignore the 450mm paradigm shift, focusing instead on just MtM, and not MM, they will end up in a technology dead end!

Europe’s MtM expertise will get slowly cannibalised by more advanced technology-based firms looking to re-use their depreciated (n-1) MM platforms and shrinking remaining markets squeezed by ever-increasing over-crowding amongst their similar technology peers. Embracing MtM without MM will undermine Europe’s long-term KET aspirations and advanced manufacturing needs by 2025. By the way, a 450mm fab is already in TSMC’s roadmap!

The chip industry’s growth is driven by the economy, which is currently weak due to complete loss of confidence, as well as unit demand, fab capacity, which is very tight at the leading technology edge, and ASPs.

At IFS2012 in January, Future Horizons had said that +8 per cent is a safe bet for the global semiconductor industry. The updated outlook for 2012, from Future Horizons, for the global semiconductor industry is +4 per cent! As we all know, the chip fundamentals wait for no man or crisis! The year 2012 has been one of the unresolved Euro crisis. The chip market will likely rebound once business confidence returns!

As SEMI puts it: the key to the implementation of 450mm wafer production will be the ability of key subsystem and component suppliers to support leading tool makers with critical enabling products and technologies vital to 450 pilot lines and high volume production. The role of the  the Global 450 Consortium (G450C) will be watched and followed with great interest.

The key question: Should Europe make a move for 450mm fabs?  What happens to the existing 300mm fabs? Do let me know your thoughts, friends!

P.S.: By the way, what is the Indian semiconductor industry doing?

Why has the semicon equipment bubble really burst? – II

October 27, 2010 Comments off

Here’s the concluding part of my discussion with Dr. Robert Castellano of The Information Network, from New Tripoli, USA.

Repercussions of a deteriorating semiconductor industry
I asked Dr. Castellano regarding the repercussions of a deteriorating semiconductor industry.

He said that the semiconductor equipment industry seems to be in serious trouble. There could possible be little growth in 2011, and the how is that there will be sufficient pushouts in equipment that revenues are moved to 2011 from 2010.

Dr. Castellano said: “We warned two months ago about pushouts, and today, Veeco stated that they “recently experienced rescheduling of tool shipments from the fourth quarter into the first quarter by several customers in Korea and Taiwan.” In other words, pushouts! We will continue to see this more and more.

“Problem is, will the equipment vendors admit it? ASML vehemently denied any customers’ pushouts last quarter, but with tools selling for $35 million each and customers such as Nanya and Inotera announcing losses, there is no way in creation pushouts won’t happen.

“Then, there is the issue of 450mm wafers. The only ones pushing it are the semicons, because they recognized that they could generate twice the number of chips for almost the same capital equipment cost. The equipment industry was dramatically impacted by the 300mm transition, and growth was nearly flat from 2001 to 2009. Not so for the semicons.

“No equipment supplier wants 450mm, it is being pushed by Sematech and Intel, plus a consortium in Europe that feels that perhaps 450mm will knock off competitors and they can make up the vacuum in sales. Only the top 15 equipment suppliers will survive.”

How will pushouts benefit the industry?
On the subject of industry pushouts being highlighted time and again, it is also necessary to see whether and how will these benefit the industry in the long run.

Besides the reasons mentioned above, semiconductor sales are intimately tied to the economy. There is a direct correlation between semiconductor sales and GDP, as well as the PLIs of The Information Network. If the economy is robust, more money is available to purchase electronic items containing semiconductors. The reverse is true, indicative of the present economic climate.

The Information Network has also indicated that firms will announce lower results, and it’d get worse in the following quarter. Why will this happen and which firms could be likely ‘hurt’?

Dr. Castellano said: “This will happen because the crest in the tidal wave was only reached in the past month or so, and it is a long and slippery slope down because it went so high up to begin with.

“The DRAM manufacturers will be hit the hardest. Growth was strongest for them for the first half of the year, where sales grew 135 percent in Q2 2010 compared to Q2 2009.”

Is there a way out? If yes, when?
Finally, when will there be some recovery in the semiconductor equipment sales and why? Surely, as with everything, there has to be a way out!

Dr. Castellano concluded: “We see minimal growth in 2011, again depending on macroeconomic factors. We see two years of downturn in the industry – 2012 and 2013.”

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